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US Department of State Case Study

2014

The United States Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) fosters mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries to promote friendly, and peaceful relations, according to its website. ECA hosts the ExchangesConnect social network, an international online community that highlights first-person stories about cultures, commonalities, and exchange program experiences.

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CustomerReferences_QuoteMark

Selecting the AWS Cloud was one of the easiest and simplest system architecture decisions."

Johnny Nguyen
Vice President, MetroStar Systems’ New Media Practice

The Challenge

The State Department designed an online video contest to encourage discussion and participation around cultural topics, and to promote membership in the network. Faced with budget constraints and a short implementation timeline, the State Department was looking for a nimble and cost-effective way to accomplish its mission.

Why Amazon Web Services

The State Department and its prime contractor, MetroStar Systems, who built the contest platform, looked to Amazon Web Services (AWS) to power the contest. According to the State Department, AWS provided a “reliable hosting platform capable of supporting any degree of scalability, and a platform that allowed the development team to focus on the software solution rather than the infrastructure.”

The contest was a success and took advantage of AWS’s scalability. The contest drew participants from more than 160 countries, and video uploads from over 50 of them.

MetroStar Systems’ video contest platform made use of several AWS services:

The biggest challenge on this project was time. According to David Keener, a Senior Solutions Architect for MetroStar Systems’ New Media Practice, “We had to implement the entire contest platform in two and a half months, including features such as entry submission, a sophisticated workflow, online comments, voting, moderation, administrative reports, tools to support judging by remote celebrity judges, and numerous other features.”

The Benefits

Keener notes that paying for virtual computers on an as-needed basis is cheaper, easier, and faster than having to procure physical hardware and customize systems one at a time. He says, “The process is indisputably faster and easier than before, and doesn’t involve any support personnel.”

Johnny Nguyen, Vice President of MetroStar Systems’ New Media Practice, added: “Selecting the AWS Cloud was one of the easiest and simplest system architecture decisions. AWS provided us with many key benefits and we will continue to leverage AWS for future solutions here at MetroStar Systems.”

US Department of State Architecture Diagram

About US Department of State

The United States Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) fosters mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries to promote friendly, and peaceful relations, according to its website.


AWS Services Used

Amazon S3

Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) is an object storage service that offers industry-leading scalability, data availability, security, and performance. 

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Amazon EC2

Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) is a web service that provides secure, resizable compute capacity in the cloud.

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Amazon EBS

Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS) is an easy to use, high performance block storage service designed for use with Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2)

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Elastic Load Balancing

Achieve fault tolerance for any application by ensuring scalability, performance, and security.

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