BrainStorm’s business challenges
BrainStorm, a leading training development company that provides interactive web and mobile eLearning solutions through its online, cloud-based QuickHelp platform, encountered new technological challenges as demand for their services started growing at an unprecedented pace.
QuickHelp allows companies to organize corporate trainings using engaging video tutorials, online courses, webinars, interactive templates, and other user-centric content. The platform reinforces learning within organizations and encourages users to acquire and apply new skills to achieve higher work efficiency. Our client’s solution is also aimed at changing employees’ work habits and lifestyles to create a more motivated and dynamic workplace. In addition, the platform’s flexible nature allows for customizations to cater to specific corporate needs and the goals of end customers.
From the very beginning of this eLearning website project, Intellias has been BrainStorm’s strategic engineering partner, providing full-scale, end-to-end product development from research to the marketplace. With the platform rapidly making headway in the market, BrainStorm decided to adopt an entirely new business model that required implementing the most up-to-date practices in the development process. Their new competitive strategy called for advanced technological competencies in Cloud, Big Data, and DevOps. Intellias value-added services naturally fit that need.
Innovative eLearning solution delivered
Consistent successful delivery of platform upgrades and new functionality over the course of many years gave BrainStorm the confidence to pass their entire engineering process to Intellias, leaving only product ownership on their side. Intellias has become BrainStorm’s single development provider for the cloud-based eLearning solution.
Implementation of innovative features
QuickHelp is designed to stir users’ desire to learn by providing a constant stream of targeted learning resources in a variety of formats. It uses machine learning to display the most relevant content to users. The platform delivers personalized learning experiences and measures the impact of training with the help of these engaging and interactive tools:
- Skill paths
Short, easy-to-understand videos united by a shared theme make up a skill path that takes the learner through a productivity-focused program. Training courses are either assigned or recommended to employees based on their job roles, skill sets, and unique professional needs. Once a learner is through a course, they complete a quiz and can share their results with colleagues.
- Gamification badges and ratings
QuickHelp’s gamified approach to learning includes achievement badges, assessments, and company standings to motivate healthy professional competition within the company.
- Communication tools
To keep employees engaged and informed about new assignments and upcoming live events, communications are personalized through a powerful mailing engine. Users receive notifications, reminders, and announcements via consolidated or individual emails and MS Teams chatbots.
- Performance tracking and engagement reports
Companies get deep insights into employee learning behavior, user progress, and training effectiveness through customizable analytics dashboards. Based on the data in these dashboards, employers can further improve the company’s educational processes and incentive mechanisms.
We built a strong development organization for BrainStorm, bringing on over 50 senior engineers — and counting. Our five teams provide end-to-end software development services, from requirements analysis and design to production and database management. Team members work cross-functionally, taking on a variety of on-demand roles as the need arises.
Each end-to-end team is responsible for a specific business domain:
- The engagement team analyzes customer behavior and devises quizzes and email campaigns to encourage users to continue learning.
- Two content teams are responsible for integrating the content consumed by users into the system. The platform includes video sessions, guides, assessments, resources, practice files, and more.
- The people team deals with users, roles, and groups. This team provides services to simplify the onboarding of new customers and to help end users in QuickHelp.
- The account and security team has built a single mechanism for identification and authorization that allows for synchronized access using a single sign-on. The team has also provided a full set of security measures to comply with GDPR requirements.
As we’ve worked on our client’s innovative eLearning platform, our engineers have participated in a series of workshops and brainstorming sessions where each team member can chime in on how the new system should be implemented. Our ideas and suggestions have laid the groundwork for BrainStorm’s brand-new product that’s already in the works.
Overcoming major challenges
We handle the most complicated technological and process challenges brought about by the market, BrainStorm’s business needs, and the rapid growth of the QuickHelp platform.
- Moving from a monolithic architecture to microservices
One of Intellias most significant initiatives was the move from a monolithic to a microservices architecture. With a massive inflow of customers to QuickHelp over the years and a new business model adopted by BrainStorm, there came the need for much greater scalability of the system.
Intellias experts from our digital consulting services suggested a scalable microservices architecture that could provide near-infinite expansion of the platform. We encouraged the use of the latest technologies and approaches to implement this new architecture. Our engineers are now building a new system where each service will have its own database and infrastructure. This will simplify infrastructure maintenance and allow us to scale services separately depending on the specific load on each of them.
- Handling high loads
As the number of QuickHelp users is growing fast, one of our goals is to build a system that can withstand a much higher load. Our client’s new platform uses Microsoft Azure to ensure seamless scaling of the system by automatically growing its resources and thus increasing the load capacity many times over.
- Speeding up production
To keep up with the pace of the eLearning industry, we initiated a transition from biweekly releases to a continuous delivery process, where new features and updates go into production within a day or two. This gives us clear visibility into the product’s current state and reduces the risk of detecting issues far into development.
From the very beginning, our team approached the development of QuickHelp with a DevOps mindset. We helped our client cut infrastructure costs by 20% by reviewing resource utilization, optimizing pricing tiers, and setting up auto-scaling policies for resources. We then continued to establish a set of practices to optimize the implementation of our client’s new SaaS platform and built an entire DevOps culture around that process. From the DevOps perspective, our key achievements include:
- Automated deployment pipeline
Our team transformed the product delivery flow from manual and scheduled deployments to automated and frequent deployments. We refactored the delivery pipeline with built-in Quality Gates: every commit that passes through the gates successfully is automatically deployed to the production environment. This mechanism triggers multiple automated deploys without any manual action on the developer’s part.
As a result, we simplified the process of bringing changes to the environment and improved the development velocity of our teams, who can now support the infrastructure of their services themselves without the assistance of infrastructure engineers.
- Infrastructure as Code (IaC)
We set up the project’s infrastructure according to IaC principles, so the entire infrastructure is written in code and can be built instantly with the push of a button. If there’s a need to build an application from scratch in a new region, using a unified script, we can automatically create an identical environment with all the resources needed to run the platform’s components.
Azure Resource Manager (ARM) templates are used for provisioning environments and are executed with an identical and repeatable process. Any configuration changes to the environment are made automatically in an infrastructure release pipeline, and infrastructure changes are included in the code review process.
- Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery (CI/CD)
By following the CI/CD methodology, where deployment happens based on readiness, our team accelerated the product rollout dozens of times over. Because developers don’t have to wait for the release date and can merge their changes at once, any issues can be quickly spotted and fixed. All new features go through the Quality Gates, which include unit tests, component tests, code inspection, and other types of tests. If all these steps are passed successfully, a feature is automatically launched into production.
Thanks to the introduction of CI/CD automation, we turned such critical events as production releases, infrastructure changes, and disaster recovery into a stress-free routine for our development teams.
After eight years of partnership, Intellias has become the bedrock of BrainStorm’s development. We’ve created a tight bond with our client in working on their flagship product. BrainStorm completely trusts us in all aspects of product development, including in the choice of technologies, delivery, staffing, team structure, and other important decisions.
We’ve developed a productive synergy that has allowed BrainStorm to win such reputable clients as Visa, PepsiCo, and Deloitte. We’ve also implemented necessary customizations to respond to end users’ individual preferences and needs. Today, the QuickHelp training platform allows over two million active users worldwide to access thousands of training videos, track their expertise, get recommendations, organize their personal libraries, upload and share their own videos, and participate in online instructor-led training sessions.
BrainStorm has started naturally expanding their presence in the $200+ billion eLearning market, acquiring new customers in Europe, Asia, and Australia. As more and more organizations start to see tangible ROI as a result of the increased professional skills of their employees, the demand for BrainStorm’s custom training solutions is growing. With Intellias vast engineering capacity at their disposal, BrainStorm will continue to surge ahead with their innovative, on-demand eLearning products.
Intellias is a critical and integral part of our team. I continue to be more and more impressed with the great company Intellias has become. The people we work with are excellent and there has never been a question of integrity or commitment. This truly reflects on the values instilled by owners and management.