ByteSpeed Launches Fully Managed Remote Learning Solution Using Amazon AppStream 2.0
ByteSpeed, an AWS Partner, created and delivered computer lab as a service (CLaaS), a fully managed remote learning solution, using Amazon Web Services (AWS). ByteSpeed, a leading IT solutions provider headquartered in Moorhead, Minnesota, offers customized computer hardware, enterprise networking solutions, and professional IT services with a strategic focus on K–12 education. ByteSpeed’s CLaaS solution uses Amazon AppStream 2.0, a fully managed nonpersistent desktop and application service, to securely provision online remote learning applications to students on any supported device of their choice.
ByteSpeed engaged SynchroNet, an AWS Partner, to obtain help on the project. SynchroNet helped ByteSpeed build the architecture, complete testing, implement automation, and launch a pilot within 8 weeks. Now using the CLaaS solution, ByteSpeed helps reduce the workload of schools’ technical departments and facilitates better student learning
Our CLaaS solution using Amazon AppStream 2.0 has a much simpler, more straightforward adoption than other application virtualizations. For schools, it solves a huge problem."
Sales Director, ByteSpeed
Implementing CLaaS Using Amazon AppStream 2.0
The unprecedented change to remote schooling in 2020 with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic exerted a significant strain on ByteSpeed’s education customers. “I had technology directors across the country who had just been handed a million more laptops than they were supposed to be supporting,” says Anna Hanson, sales director at ByteSpeed. “They had students and teachers logging in remotely, some without good connectivity. Their hands were just so full.”
ByteSpeed set out to build an environment to facilitate virtual access to applications that students would have previously accessed on site in school computer labs or classrooms. “We were looking to solve the problem of content and coursework delivery for schools trying to keep their students learning remotely,” says Hanson. The company originally planned to offer an on-premises virtual desktop infrastructure solution to schools. However, implementing the infrastructure and licensing for this model was complex and not economical. While researching alternate solutions, ByteSpeed came across Amazon AppStream 2.0 through some of its customers that were already using the service. Using Amazon AppStream 2.0, students could get quick and secure online access to application suites such as Adobe Creative Cloud, Autodesk, Project Lead The Way, and the Microsoft Office suite from any web browser.
Making Technology Accessible to Schools and Students
ByteSpeed released the pilot program of its CLaaS solution in the fall of 2020 to around 20 customers. Using Amazon AppStream 2.0, ByteSpeed saved hundreds of thousands of dollars in hardware, licensing, and management costs while reducing the onboarding process for clients to 1 day. ByteSpeed benefits from the pay-as-you-go and concurrent pricing model of Amazon AppStream 2.0 to pay only for the instances it uses. At the same time, ByteSpeed is able to offer its education customers a per-user billing model, which it developed after feedback from the pilot program. Per-user pricing is more familiar for schools and clarifies the technology cost so schools can budget for the solution. “It’s very easy for schools to incorporate the Amazon AppStream 2.0 solution into their environment with this per-student pricing model,” says Hanson. “It’s been really well received and made it a lot easier for people to make larger adoptions.”
ByteSpeed worked with SynchroNet, which has extensive experience in Amazon AppStream 2.0, to develop the CLaaS solution using Amazon AppStream 2.0 capabilities. SynchroNet helped ByteSpeed launch the pilot, create the per-user pricing model, and develop a custom usage dashboard for schools. “SynchroNet understands Amazon AppStream 2.0 inside and out,” says Hanson. “To get to where we were after a few months with SynchroNet would have taken us years alone. Now we are able to manage the environment for hundreds of schools on our own.”
After a successful pilot, ByteSpeed launched CLaaS for its customers in just 4 weeks. Since adopting Amazon AppStream 2.0 in late 2020, ByteSpeed has implemented its CLaaS solution in dozens of schools across the United States. The solution is simple to set up, and the environment is fully managed using Amazon AppStream 2.0, lifting administrative overhead from overburdened school IT departments. ByteSpeed takes care of every aspect of implementing and maintaining the environment, from building licensing servers to authenticating users and managing patching and security. “Our CLaaS solution using Amazon AppStream 2.0 has a much simpler, more straightforward adoption than other application virtualizations,” says Hanson. “For schools, it solves a huge problem, and the headaches are nonexistent.”
Students have more flexible learning opportunities using Amazon AppStream 2.0 than they had in a computer lab setting. They can access applications to complete coursework where and when they need to rather than being restricted to lab or classroom hours. Students who take longer than others to complete work or who have after-school jobs or activities that conflict with working in a physical computer lab can now do their work on their own computers whenever it is best for them. Additionally, schools can monitor student engagement and access organization-level reports to optimize costs using the custom usage dashboard SynchroNet helped ByteSpeed build. “It’s changing when and how students are learning,” says Bryan Luce, general manager of digital workplace at SynchroNet. “The student now has a predictable, consistent experience accessing the learning wherever and whenever they want, from any device.”
Optimizing Amazon AppStream 2.0 and CLaaS
ByteSpeed continues growing its CLaaS solution, bringing in more schools, optimizing the environment, and adding more applications to its offering. In the future, ByteSpeed hopes to look at what other problems it can help solve for its customers using AWS services. “We’re solving a problem in a way that other people are saying can’t be done,” says Hanson. “It’s given us a unique footprint in the market.”
AWS Partner ByteSpeed provides custom computer hardware, enterprise networking solutions, and professional IT services to over 5,000 organizations—schools, hospitals, banks, and public agencies—across all 50 US states, with a focus on K–12 education.
Benefits of AWS
- Created per-user pricing model for schools
- Implements solution in days instead of weeks
- Removes burden from overtaxed school IT departments
- Facilitates flexible learning for students
- Saved hundreds of thousands of dollars in hardware, licensing, and management costs
AWS Services Used
Amazon AppStream 2.0
Amazon AppStream 2.0 is a fully managed nonpersistent desktop and application service, to securely provision online remote learning applications to students on any supported device of their choice.
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