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Fortunato Favors the Bold: An Exploration of Enemy Analysis

Jay Myers, SR Software Engineer
June 11, 2024

The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could, but when he ventured upon insult, I vowed revenge…

Written in 1846, The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allen Poe is a short story about a man wronged. Montresor plots his revenge on Fortunato by luring him into his family vault with the promise of a rare wine, which Fortunato cannot resist.

…we will go back; your health is precious … and I cannot be responsible…

At several moments on the journey, Fortunato seems to be shown hints of the plan, though he is unable to piece them together. Had Fortunato been able to pick up on these clues, perhaps his fate would have been different. Alas, though the hints become more and more blatant as the journey progresses, he is ultimately unable to see them even at their most prominent.

…“And the motto?”

“Nemo me impune lacessit.”*

Fortunato’s fate is sealed behind a brick wall within the Montresor family vault, and with it, a warning to us all – never insult a Montresor, and pay attention!


Cloud Native Monitoring

Neel Shah, VP Software Development
June 6, 2024

This blog marks the conclusion of our series on the AICPA Exams Team’s transition to the Azure cloud. Throughout this series, we have outlined our strategic approach to modernizing our core systems using service-oriented architecture principles and transitioning legacy applications to the cloud. We have detailed our carefully planned migration strategies, discussed the deliberate selection of databases, and explored enhancements in data warehousing and business intelligence. Additionally, we examined the crucial role of Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and serverless technologies, such as Azure Functions, Azure App Service, Azure Cognitive Search, and Azure Service Bus, in supporting our distributed system.

In this final installment, we turn our focus to Application Performance Monitoring (APM) and message workflow monitoring. These essential components ensure our newly migrated applications perform optimally in the cloud. We will explore how APM and message workflow monitoring have been seamlessly integrated into the AICPA Exam Team’s cloud environment, the insights they have provided, and their ongoing roles in tuning and maintaining system performance.


Serverless Compute, Messaging, and Search

Neel Shah, VP Software Development
May 23, 2024

At Strasz Assessment Systems, our ongoing cloud migration initiative for the internal systems of the AICPA Exams Team has led us to re-architect our infrastructure using principles aligned with modern service-oriented design. Leveraging Azure Functions, Azure Service Bus, Azure App Service, and Azure Cognitive Search, we aimed to create a scalable, flexible, and resilient system. This post explores this key aspect of our migration, highlighting the challenges we faced, the strategies we employed, and the benefits we’ve realized.


Pro! v4.1 Release

Gary Spivack, Senior Product Manager
May 7, 2024

We’re thrilled to announce our next release! Thanks to Pro!’s agile development approach, we’re able to swiftly assess new feature requests, integrate user feedback, and deliver enhancements. Plus, with our seasoned development and architecture teams at the helm, our clients can trust that Pro! always leverages proven technologies and methodologies. 

Here are some key enhancements in Pro! v4.1.


Databases and Business Intelligence

Neel Shah, VP Software Development
May 9, 2024

At Strasz Assessment Systems, as part of our ongoing cloud migration initiative for the internal systems of the AICPA Exams Team, selecting the right database technology was a critical decision. This post outlines our existing database setup, discusses why Azure Cosmos DB was chosen as the optimal solution for our needs during the migration and introduces our approach to Business Intelligence using Azure Synapse Analytics and Power BI.


Architecture Foundations and Migration Strategy

Neel Shah, VP Software Development
April 22, 2024

At Strasz Assessment Systems, we initiated a cloud migration project for the AICPA Exams Team’s internal systems. Throughout this transition, we focused on using Azure’s cloud-native technologies to revamp our architecture. This post explores the significant architectural changes and highlights our strategies for planning, executing, and optimizing the migration process.


Our Cloud Migration Journey with the AICPA Exams Team

Neel Shah, VP Software Development
April 11, 2024

The AICPA Exams Team (Association of International Certified Professional Accountants) plays a significant role in the Uniform CPA Exam. The Uniform CPA Exam is developed and scored by the AICPA Exams Team. They set the exam’s content and format and ensure that they are relevant to the accounting profession. They also provide a Sample Test and content outlines for candidates studying for the exam.

The migration of the AICPA Exams Team’s internal systems to the cloud represented a seminal step in our journey to operational excellence and technological innovation. This blog post delves into the overarching drivers of cloud migration, the specific motives behind our strategic pivot, the transformation paths we explored, and our embracing of serverless technologies. It also discusses the macro benefits of transitioning to a cloud-native platform.


SetScore!: What technology can bring to your standard-setting process

Rory McCorkle, PhD, VP of Business Development
April 4, 2024

Last week, I discussed key considerations around setting performance standards, facilitation, training, and SME selection for the standard-setting process. As a follow-up to that post, this week, we will discuss how some of these goals can be furthered by Strasz’s standard-setting application for this process, SetScore!. Let’s delve into how this tool can aid in test security, facilitation, data management, and centering the process around the performance standards.


Standard Setting & SetScore! Blog Series: Key Considerations for Standard Setting

Rory McCorkle, PhD, VP of Business Development
March 28, 2024

Over the next couple of weeks, our blog explores the standard-setting process and Strasz’s standard-setting facilitation platform, SetScore!. This week, we will discuss the purpose of standard setting and its unique nature among test development stages, considerations in SME participation, and approaches to standard setting.

At one time, the standard-setting process was described as “the most controversial problem in educational assessment today” (Hambleton, 1998). While issues of equity and AI have likely moved into this position today, the pass rate issues experienced by many programs post-COVID highlight the degree of importance that standard setting still has in certification and licensure programs (PSI, 2023; Firth, 2023). So, discussing the unique place standard setting has in our test development lifecycle is important.


From Office to Cloud: Strasz Assessment Systems Charts a Secure Remote Course

John O’Brien, Director of IT
March 21, 2024

March 2020. The world slammed shut, offices emptied, and businesses scrambled to adapt. At Strasz Assessment Systems, a nimble player in the educational assessment field, we faced a common challenge for the time: migrate our entire team to remote work, fast. Security was paramount, but protecting sensitive data with a geographically dispersed workforce demanded carefully thought-out solutions.


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