Averail provides secure mobile content solutions to enterprises of all sizes, allowing employees secure and easy access to the information they need to stay productive without compromising enterprise security and control. Averail Access provides mobile access to business content in a way that is IT-controlled, cloud-powered and user-friendly. Today, Averail Access connects mobile devices to Microsoft SharePoint, shared network drives, Salesforce, Dropbox, and other repositories. The service supports large teams of mobile users and industry verticals, such as financial or healthcare, that have strict corporate governance or regulatory requirements. Launched in 2011, Averail is located in San Jose, CA. Averail is venture funded, and the team is comprised of enterprise technology and security software veterans from companies including McAfee, Motorola, Symantec and Microsoft.
In discussions with numerous organizations, the founders of Averail learned of the challenges that IT organizations face when managing content on mobile devices in the workplace. They saw an opportunity and decided to develop a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution that would have the flexibility to connect to any repository or document, whether the information was stored behind a firewall in SharePoint or network drives, or on a cloud repository such as Dropbox or Office 365. Developing on the cloud would keep provisioning and deployments costs low for customers, and help them deploy Averail Access rapidly without requiring costly and hardware or changes to existing infrastructure. After determining the solution’s framework, Averail began to evaluate cloud service providers.
As a start-up, Averail wanted to keep its capital and operating expenses low and be able to scale with customers. Furthermore, Averail Access is a security solution and the company needed to be able to build and deploy on a secure infrastructure. Products such as Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC) and AWS Identity and Access Management (AWS IAM), combined with the ability to encrypt Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) and create security groups on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), as well as compliance and industry certifications convinced Averail that Amazon Web Services would be a solid foundation for their service.
“I’m a big fan of the way that AWS explains shared responsibility between the AWS infrastructure and the applications that run on AWS,” says Rahul Sharma, Founder and VP of Engineering. “AWS security documentation is readily available and this helps us considerably when we are working with customers. Also, we believe that AWS is well-regarded in the market and that we can easily position our solution running on the AWS Cloud.”
Averail committed to using AWS in February 2012, and deployed early versions of Averail Access on AWS by April. The service was commercially available to customers in September. Averail Access is distributed across two parts:
- Averail Cloud Service, which overlays a security control tier over a federated set of document management systems. The service acts as a policy definition and decision point for secure document access from mobile devices, and maintains user, device, policy, and document metadata.
- A set of native mobile applications that provides secure and easy access for document sharing on iOS and Android smartphones and tablets. The mobile application gives the end user an easy-to-use experience while acting as a secure content container that enforces IT policies and permissions for content management on the device.
Averail uses the AWS Cloud to run Averail Cloud Service and the administrative portal that IT organizations use to manage the end-to-end solution. The company deploys Averail Cloud Service on Amazon EC2 and uses Elastic Load Balancing to distribute incoming traffic across instances. The administration portal is a web application on Amazon EC2, also front-ended by Elastic Load Balancing. Averail currently uses multiple Amazon EC2 instances across build, test, and production environments.
Amazon RDS for MySQL gives Averail access to a MySQL database engine, which the company uses with Amazon S3 for core data modeling and storage. Averail set up Amazon CloudWatch for monitoring, alerts with Amazon Simple Notification Service (Amazon SNS) and e-mail, and uses Amazon CloudFront to accelerate delivery of content.
Developers can take advantage of AWS APIs to configure and manage services, enabling continuous integration and deployment. “Every service is programmable through the APIs, which makes it easy to use and build on the AWS platform,” says Sharma. The Averail development environment includes Linux, Apache Tomcat, Java, and MySQL. IAM and Auto Scaling are also key components of the Averail continuous integration and deployment model.
Averail takes advantage of IAM to partition instances with different identities, groups, and permissions and uses AWS Multi-Factor Authentication (AWS MFA) with a hardware token as an additional layer of security. The service uses security groups extensively on Amazon EC2 and configures instances to block ports by default.
The company also uses AWS Support, Business level. “We had immediate phone support, which helped us when we had a deployment problem involving the release process,” says Sharma. Averail also designed in-house components for on-premises content management, Active Directory synchronization, and on-premises secure key management.
With AWS, Averail was able to avoid the upfront capital investment of building infrastructure and hiring operations resources. “We’re able to take advantage of AWS to scale as we bring on new customers and handle variable loads without the expense of physical computing resources,” says Sharma. Averail has a low-cost, agile environment for development, which allows the company to deliver a compelling and secure mobile solution to customers. Sharma comments, “We’re able to deploy releases rapidly with agility, which is a faster rollout of services compared to physical on-premises solutions.”
Averail reports that customers can start the solution with a pilot and quickly scale to thousands of users. Customer on-boarding is easy,” he continues. “Older sync solutions may take users weeks to install and configure infrastructure and migrate content. With our cloud-based solution running on AWS, users can literally start browsing their content in minutes.”
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