A Ukrainian company offers a lesson in IT resilience

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Hopefully few IT managers will need to keep the infrastructure available during wartime. But the case of Keiki, a Ukrainian developer of educational apps, sheds light on how organizations maintain IT resilience even in the worst of circumstances.

Keiki creates iOS, Android, and Web apps for kids ages 2-8. The product company, operating at the intersection of edtech and game development, was launched in Kyiv in 2019 with backing from Genesis, a co-founding company that focuses on building tech businesses in Central and Eastern Europe. .

Since Russian invasion started in February, members of the Keiki team dispersed to safer areas in Ukraine. The distributed workforce uses two main types of network connections, noted Anton Bondarev, chief operations officer at Keiki. Staff who have moved to cities in western Ukraine, living in rented apartments or houses, use high-speed fiber optic networks. Those working in rural areas, or where internet access is poor, use 4G mobile communications. Bondarev said that 3G or 4G mobile Internet covers 90% of Ukrainian territory.

Use remote tools

Unsurprisingly, Keiki has increased his reliance on remote communication and collaboration tools.

“Since the start of the war, we have been using our tools remotely,” Bondarev said. “We’ve used them before, but not that often.”

These tools include Slack, Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Meet, Atlassian’s Jira project tracking software, Trello’s project management tool, and Notion workspace app.

Since the start of the war, we have been using our tools remotely. We’ve used them before, but not that often.

Anton BondarevOperations Manager, Keiki

Bondarev said several of his partners provided rebates, which took some of the load off Keiki’s operations.

The start-up company has also heightened its focus on security, due to the high risk of attacks from Russian hackers, Bondarev said. Keiki launched a password manager, for example. “And we monitor security vulnerabilities on the dark web to keep our VPN more secure when working in public areas,” he added.

Cloud resources for IT resiliency

On the game development and hosting side, all of Keiki’s project infrastructure resides on the AWS cloud. “We use a serverless architecture, which gives us great scalability capabilities with low infrastructure costs,” said Oleksandr Sytnik, CTO at Keiki. The primary programming language is JavaScript and the Node.js JavaScript runtime environment.

The war didn’t affect Keiki’s technical decisions, since everything ran in the cloud, Sytnik said.

Keiki uses the Unity game development platform and may call on in-house specialists in a variety of fields, including Unity developers, Node.js developers, 2D artists, UX/UI designers and curriculum specialists, a noted Sergiy Potapov, Unity Manager at Keiki.

the business game contains a lot of content, some of which ends downloading once the app is installed. Keiki packages content into Unity AssetBundles, which are uploaded to Amazon S3 storage. Printable teaching materials are also stored on S3, Potapov said.

Content updates continue to use remote configurations. A continuous integration system, which uses Jenkins and Fastlane, streamlines development and testing, Potapov noted. Keiki has its own mobile app backend, through which it validates user access. “We managed to block access to all users from Russia within hours and give free access via Ukraine,” Potapov said.

The company’s main product, Keiki World, is free for preschoolers in Ukraine.

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