Case Study

By Relying on Pantek and Leveraging AWS Automation, Student Health 101 Improves Performance of Content Management Platform and Reduces Cloud Costs


Compay Name: CampusWell

By Relying on Pantek and Leveraging AWS Automation, Student Health 101 Improves Performance of Content Management Platform and Reduces Cloud Costs

The Challenge: Stabilize Content Management Platform Performance

Student Health 101 publishes custom digital health content for high school and college students. The company’s content platform also enables administrators to measurably engage students through interactive media. Utilizing cutting edge designs, research-based content, and an active peer education approach, Student Health 101 promotes well-being as a lifelong endeavor that impacts every aspect of a person’s life.
The WordPress content management system that Student Health 101 utilizes to deliver information to students and institutions is continuously expanding. Hundreds of colleges and high schools access the platform, and each institution has its own custom website consisting of between 1,000 to 2,000 pages. Over the course of a year, close to three million students rely on the platform to help manage and improve their health.
As the number of web pages in the WordPress content management platform reached critical mass, Student Health 101 began to experience performance issues. The cloud hosting provider kept telling Student Health 101 that to stabilize performance, WordPress required more PHP Workers — the mechanism that handles cached files and requests for back-end processing with the MySQL database that feeds data to WordPress.

“But each time we added more PHP Workers, the problem would eventually come back,” Student Health 101 Founder Tom Piovoso said. “Our hosting provider did not seem to be able to find a working solution to stabilize the performance of the platform.”

After reaching the point where the number of PHP Workers had doubled, the problem continued to persist, and the cloud hosting provider recommended doubling the resources once again.

“At that point, the cost for hosting our content management system would have been cost-prohibitive,” Piovoso said. “And we were not confident that the performance of our platform would stabilize. We needed to find a new cloud environment and a cloud partner who could manage it.”

The Solution: Pantek Migrates WordPress to AWS

To solve this challenge, Student Health 101 met with multiple cloud managed services providers and identified Pantek as the ideal partner.

“Pantek took the time to delve deeply into our needs and designed a custom solution,” Piovoso pointed out. “In contrast, the other providers offered generic, cookie-cutter solutions. We value Pantek’s personal approach and feel comfortable working with their entire team.”

Pantek also impressed Piovoso with its knowledge of the cloud and its technical skills in open source technologies such as WordPress and the PHP scripting language. All these factors gave Piovoso a high level of confidence that Pantek could recommend and design a suitable cloud environ- ment to stabilize the WordPress platform at a reasonable cost.

After conducting an assessment of the computer resource requirements of the WordPress environment, Pantek recommended migrating the platform to the Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud. The Pantek team then matched the WordPress workloads to the necessary CPU, RAM, and stor- age resources.

The Results: Stable Performance with 71% Reduction in IT Infrastructure Costs

Pantek executed the migration to AWS during a long weekend to minimize the disruption to services for Student Health 101 customers. After going live, the content management system was overwhelmed with spider bots that crawled and indexed all the web pages. Pantek made an adjustment to limit which spider bots would be allowed in.

“This may have been the same problem causing our performance issue with our previous environment,” Piovoso said. “The difference in this case was that Pantek quickly identified and corrected the problem.”

Pantek also split the back-end database supporting WordPress onto three server instances to further improve performance for end users. And to strengthen the security posture of the environment, Pantek set up multi-factor authentication. This created an extra layer of authorization to ensure that only legitimate end-users can access the platform.

“Stabilizing the performance of our customer websites was the big reason for making the move to AWS, and that’s exactly what Pantek delivered,” Piovoso said.

The migration to AWS and the partnership with Pantek also paid off in terms of cost savings. The costs with the previous hosting provider was scheduled to increase approximately 2.5 times with the addition of new PHP workers to improve the performance of the content management system. With Pantek and AWS, the monthly infrastructure cost for Student Health 101 is about 71% less than before.

Following the migration, Pantek assisted Student Health 101 with an update to the digital graphics supporting the image themes of the content management platform. This further helped improve performance and was something the previous host provider could not execute. Going forward, Pantek will help make sure the websites for each institution are running up-to-date theme images.

“Pantek provides the expertise to not only design high-performing AWS environments, but also support them on an on-going basis to make sure we can rely on consistent, stable performance,” Piovoso concluded. “They also know how to solve technical issues when they arise and can adapt our environment as new cloud technologies evolve. We view Pantek as an ideal partner to keep our cloud environment running smoothly over the long term.”

Case Study Overview

  • As the number of web pages provisioned by the Student Health 101 WordPress content management system reached critical mass, the performance of the platform began to degrade.
  • The cloud host provider recommended continuing adding PHP Workers to the IT infrastructure supporting WordPress, but the monthly cost would have become exorbitant.
  • To solve the challenge, Student Health 101 turned to Pantek to migrate WordPress to Amazon Web Services (AWS) as a new cloud host provider.

What Pantek Delivered

  • Reliable and stable performance for the WordPress content management system.
  • Increased security through multi-factor authentication.
  • Reduced cloud computing costs — 71% less than the previous cloud host provider.
  • Improved database performance by splitting the database across three server instances.
  • Faster end-user responses by limiting the number of spider bots indexing websites.

Tools and Technologies

  • WordPress content management platform
  • AWS EC2 server instances
  • AWS CloudFront content delivery network
  • AWS Autoscaling and Load Balancing
  • PHP, CSS, and JavaScript programming languages
  • New Relic website performance tracking
  • Cloudflare website performance boosting
  • MySQL database

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