Use Case: Delivering Digital Teaching Materials Quickly and Securely

We've been talking a lot about features lately.  Now, how to use some of them in real life.

Say you're a publisher of textbooks or other teaching materials.  You're good at selling to schools, but you need an efficient and secure way to get digital products into the hands of students after the sale.  Tizra gives you a number of ways to get this done (in addition to built-in ecommerce for self-serve credit card sales), but today we'll focus on a new option built around the batch account loader, which makes it as simple as copy and paste.  Note that second and third steps below only need to be done the first time you set up…

1. Add and Tag Users
Use the new batch account loader to load and tag email addresses for the students who should have access (if you don't have emails, there are other options we'll cover in future posts).  Pick a tag that's short and easy to remember.  For example, if you want to arrange access to a book called Knowledge 101 during the upcoming fall term, you could use a tag like "kno101-fa2011."  (Once you create the tag, you'll be able to select it from a picker so it's easy to standardize.)

2. Create an Account Set
Account Sets let you create groups of users based on their tags.  To create one for the users just tagged, go to USERS > Account Sets in the control panel, then click "Create New…"  You'll get a screen like the one below, into which you can enter a name for the set, like "Knowledge 101, Fall 2011."  Then you can define who should be included by using the tag picker to add the "kno101-fa2011" tag in the appropriate filtering field (presumably "Matching All" in this case).  Click "Save" and you'll see the filtered list of users at the bottom of the screen.

Filtering users into an account set.
3. Add a License
By adding one of Tizra's highly flexible content Licenses to the Account Set, you can control what content its members will have access to, and for how long.  Click "Create New…" under the Set Licenses heading, and you'll get a dialog that lets you select from any content Collection or Offer on the site.  Once the License is created, you can just click on it to get the editing dialog shown below, which lets you adjust options including Duration of access (which will automatically begin counting down when the user first views the content), number of Concurrent Sessions (so you can sell group licenses and restrict unauthorized sharing of logins) and whether or not users have access to downloadable versions of the book or supplemental materials.  Once the license is added, members of the set will automatically have appropriate access.

Setting license terms for members of the set.
4. Repeat…skipping steps 2 & 3
Once you've got things set up as above, all you need to do to authorize new users is load and tag them as in Step 1.

More Eggs in More Baskets: How the AWS Outage Made Us Stronger

Like a lot of web companies, we learned some hard lessons from the Amazon Web Services outage of a few weeks ago.   We didn't lose a single byte of data, but we resolved never again to put one service provider—no matter how large and diversified—in a position where its failure could cause a serious interruption in service for our customers.

As promised, we 've now finished setting up automated data backup and redundant server infrastructure in facilities maintained by a completely separate company: Softlayer Technologies.  Like AWS, Softlayer maintains the high security and reliability standards we require, including SAS 70 Type II Certification and PCI DSS Compliance.  And their Texas location adds geographic diversity to the Virginia and California regions Amazon gives us access to.

This is in no way the end of our efforts to improve reliability and security.  We'll keep refining backup, failover and recovery processes to ensure not only that our customers' data is safe but that it remains available to a rapidly growing user base.  Still, we wanted to mark this milestone as a way of making clear that the lesson was not only learned but acted on.