The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the delivery of new and innovative learning solutions from education technology (EdTech) startups globally as classrooms closed and remote learning became the norm. This period of social distancing drove these educators to bridge any gaps in their infrastructure and connectivity using cloud technology. A report by RedSeer and Omidyar Network India predicts that India’s EdTech industry will grow to $3.5B by the end of this year.

upGrad builds on AWS

Powering the global EdTech growth story is the scalability and agility of cloud computing. The flexibility of the cloud’s pay-as-you-go model gives organizations the ability to reduce costs, and the agility of the cloud allows startups to experiment faster and easier, building and testing new models without incurring significant costs. As education increasingly becomes available on-demand, more personalized, and a lifelong choice for workers, EdTechs are relying on Amazon Web Services (AWS) to build innovative solutions that address evolving real-world needs. With AWS, EdTechs can focus on building differentiated value like forecasting student enrolment and churn, planning curricula, running virtual labs, creating personalized learner recommendations, and more. EdTechs in India are building on the innovation, global reach, high availability, and the security posture offered by AWS to scale internationally. Among the largest EdTechs in India is upGrad, Asia’s higher EdTech major that has crossed the mark of over two million registered learners in over 100 countries.

upGrad’s growth aspirations

upGrad started in 2015 with a vision to deliver quality online higher education with a focus on solving the problem of access, affordability, and quality at scale. upGrad launched programs on entrepreneurship, data analytics, and digital marketing in 2016, and began with its first workload on AWS in the same year.

In 2019, upGrad became a member of AWS EdStart, a startup accelerator program designed to support EdTechs to innovate and grow faster. The program offers benefits like equity-free financial support through AWS Promotional Credit, technical training and support, and access to a global community of EdTech experts. Leveraging AWS EdStart, upGrad was able to reduce the initial costs of building on the cloud, and deploy those funds to other strategic areas such as product and curriculum development, and user experience. Building on its success in the India market, upGrad focused on hyper-scale growth and international expansion, leveraging the scale and global availability offered by AWS.

In 2021, upGrad achieved the significant milestone of unicorn status, with a valuation of $1.2 billion. The same year, upGrad decided to go all-in on AWS, moving all of its information technology (IT) workloads to the world’s leading cloud to meet increased global demand for upskilling.

“AWS has helped upGrad meet the rapid growth of their learner base as the company scales to more than 100 countries and provides a secure and personalized experience to learners online,” said Sunil PP, Lead—Education, Space, and Nonprofits, Amazon Internet Services Private Limited, AWS India and South Asia.

With AWS, upGrad doubled its learner base to more than 2 million in just eight months. Learners now spend 4x more time on its platform, and, with a strong set of analytics capabilities to analyze learner data, including demographics and course uptakes, upGrad is delivering personalized career services to drive learner success with a more relevant curriculum.

Leveraging AWS to drive business outcomes

upGrad is using a range of AWS cloud capabilities, including analytics, security, and compute, to power career growth for individuals. To better understand learner journeys and prepare users for a successful career, upGrad is analyzing learners’ usage patterns, preferences, profile information, coursework, job applications, and career progression. Using these insights, upGrad can suggest relevant courses and employment opportunities, match learners’ training journeys with upskilling offerings, and provide personalized learning experiences and tailored career paths.

“AWS’s security services ensure that upGrad can focus on its core, without worrying about data privacy. This has been particularly valuable for us while collaborating with the top international universities from across the globe,” said Yogesh Nehra, President – Technology, upGrad. “With AWS, we are not only providing the best learning experience to help people accelerate their careers and delivering personalized education for learners around the world, we have also saved 28% in our technology infrastructure costs.”

As upGrad grows, it plans to procure software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions for the company and its subsidiaries via AWS Marketplace, a curated digital catalogue that makes it easy for organizations to test, purchase, deploy, and manage third-party software. By purchasing third-party software via AWS Marketplace and deploying these solutions on AWS in as little as one click, upGrad can pay for its software subscriptions through the company’s AWS bill, removing the need to manage vendors and billing processes individually.

“As the demand for quality online learning content grows, we can easily scale our workloads on AWS to reliably and securely deliver rich and uninterrupted educational content, even during very busy periods,” added Yogesh Nehra. “upGrad is now geared towards addressing a market of more than 1.3 billion knowledge workers across Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America, and the US.”