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Firefly Software Struggles with Demand as Kids Study from Home

David Paul

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firefly

Firefly Learning has seen ‘unprecedented demand’ as teachers use the platform to set and mark homework for children studying from their homes due to COVID-19.

Home study app Firefly Learning, designed to allow children to study outside of school, is seeing a huge jump in usage during the coronavirus outbreak, causing its services to run slower than usual and, at times, lose connection entirely.

The London-based firm, which is used in 500 schools around the UK, says that its European service has been most affected by the extra usage, and that it is attempting new steps to try and mitigate the problem.

The company’s chief executive, Simon Hay, told the BBC: “”There will be teething problems as we are dealing with a completely unprecedented situation.

“On Friday (March 20), we were two-and-a-half times busier than we had ever been, and today is much, much busier than that.

“But we are working around the clock to scale everything up as much as we can.”

The company is providing its learning service for free for new sign-ups during the period of the coronavirus, which has fuelled the extra demand.

But Hay said this had not contributed to the problems it is currently experiencing.

“Our infrastructure is segregated so [paying] clients aren’t affected by anyone on that free offer,” he explained.

Firefly provides its service to several countries around the world including China, Australia and North America. The platform is currently most affected in Europe and across the Middle East and Africa.

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The company said that it is attempting to fix the problems. Hay added: “We have been working hard on resolving the issue with our login component that was preventing sites from working. The problem relates to a component called Redis which is typically extremely reliable and experienced no issues yesterday (23 March).

“We are bringing up a completely new instance of the Redis component and making changes to our large number of servers to use this instead.

“We will then need to do some testing of the new infrastructure and will then update again. We have to do this meticulously and carefully to try and ensure we set the infrastructure up for success when we re-open access to the system.

“We are monitoring the situation very closely to ensure that we can continue to provide students, parents and teachers the support they need during this unprecedented time.”

David Paul

Staff Writer, DIGIT

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