An often overlooked privilege of building database technology is the opportunity to team up with companies that are making a positive impact in the world. For Cockroach Labs, EF (Education First) is one of those companies. Since 1965, Education First has offered a range of educational programs including study abroad, student exchange, educational travel courses and language classes; all in an effort to "open the world through education." Currently, Education First has 612 offices and schools in over 50 different countries. In 2019 it launched a digital learning platform to remove the distance between teachers and students in different countries. The services that Education First provides help to grow the work and travel possibilities for people of all ages from all countries.
Today, Cockroach Labs helps to power Education First’s mission by providing their developers with a fully managed relational database that serves as the backbone for the new digital learning platform that's connecting students with teachers across the world.
Comparing Amazon Aurora to CockroachDB
As Education First grew its global footprint, they outgrew their database infrastructure. This is not an uncommon problem for similarly longstanding and successful companies who experience a business expansion over time that exceeds the capabilities of their database. For years, Education First has been cobbling together different databases from MySQL to Cassandra and others in order to try and keep pace with their company’s global needs.
With CockroachCloud, we don’t have to worry about scalability issues or troubleshooting performance. This gives back a lot of time to our developers. --Rocco Donnarumma
Rocco Donnarumma, the CTO of Education First, decided that the company reached a point where it could no longer sustain an efficient software development team while also shouldering the burden of maintaining disparate databases. Donnarumma turned his attention towards migrating to a resilient, consistent, cloud-native database that could guarantee ACID compliance, and remove the operational complexity of manual sharding. His evaluation eventually narrowed to Amazon Aurora and CockroachDB.
The details of Education First’s migration strategy and outcome are available in this case study. The TL;DR version is that Amazon Aurora was disqualified because it cannot deliver synchronous global transactions. This meant that Donnarumma was left with one final decision: To self-host CockroachDB or to go with CockroachCloud, the fully managed version of CockroachDB.
CockroachCloud Saves Time for Developers
In an effort to give time and efficiency back to his developers who were building the digital learning platform, Donnarumma decided to utilize CockroachCloud. "With CockroachCloud, we don’t have to worry about scalability issues or troubleshooting performance. This gives back a lot of time to our developers,” says Donnarumma. The CockroachCloud team removes the operational complexity of setting up and maintaining a distributed database so that application teams can focus on building their business applications. And because CockroachCloud doesn’t require constant maintenance, and all the developers have to do to scale is simply spin up another node and point it at the cluster, there is no need for extensive troubleshooting or downtime.
Developers at Education First have been able to jump right into CockroachCloud to create their new Teachers First application, stating that it’s no different than working in any other database because of CockroachDB’s PostgreSQL wire compatibility. For Donnarumma, that’s the best kind of feedback, because the developers don’t see the underlying complexity and can just get to work.
Read the full case study to learn more about the technical challenges Education First faced as a global company and the ways that they’ve leveraged CockroachCloud to overcome those challenges and create new efficiencies for their developers.
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