The iTwin device resembles two flash drives connected in the middle. When the device is split and each half is plugged into an online computer, iTwin creates a secure connection between the two computers. Security and storage concerns are completely assuaged because the iTwin uses AES 256-bit encryption to protect all data in transit and there is no storage capacity limit. In case of loss, there are several ways to disable the connection between the two halves. The innovative iTwin model is a fundamentally simple and secure, completely unique paradigm.
While developing the iTwin device, the company relied on internal servers as test beds. Later, the company began using a Singapore-based local service provider, but this solution was too expensive and too complicated than the company wanted. iTwin Pte. Ltd. began to seek out a solution that addressed the price and complexity issues while also offering a global footprint and greater reliability. iTwin therefore looked to Amazon Web Services (AWS), and in AWS, iTwin found a very satisfactory solution.
Currently, iTwin’s entire backend system runs completely on AWS. AWS is thus responsible for powering iTwin’s core functionality. The iTwin device connects to the backend servers twice. First, to authenticate the iTwin device. If authentication is successful, the iTwin device connects to the server a second time, to transmit encrypted data between the two halves of the iTwin device. Servers are deployed in the AWS US East (Northern Virginia), US West (Northern California), EU (Ireland), and Asia Pacific (Singapore) regions. This ensures that the iTwin device connects to the nearest server globally. To guarantee data security, all communication with AWS servers is completely encrypted by iTwin. The servers also receive and processes disable requests when iTwin users remotely disable their iTwin device due to loss of one half.
A powerful combination of AWS products comprises the iTwin platform, including Amazon EC2, Amazon RDS, Amazon S3, EBS volumes, and Amazon CloudWatch.
Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) Linux instances are primarily used for all of the backend servers. Elastic Load Balancing ensures that the servers scale up or down based on load. To automate the process, iTwin Technology uses instance images, which are pre-loaded with their software. The images are stored in Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) buckets.
The iTwin company’s backend system also uses Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) instances as well as security group options to limit access only to iTwin Amazon EC2 users. To maintain crucial backup copies of the database, iTwin saves weekly snapshots of their Elastic Block Store (EBS) volumes on Amazon S3. Amazon CloudWatch and Java APIs enable the company to retrieve server statistics and monitor the status of the servers, thereby creating its own iTwin internal dashboard.
The final component of the AWS solution is the iTwin Technology Website, which is hosted on Amazon EC2 servers. As a conduit for content delivery, CloudFront reduces load time by ensuring that the Website contents are retrieved from the nearest servers.
Three main reasons led iTwin Pte. Ltd. to choose AWS – first, sheer simplicity of deployment and usability; second, cost-effectiveness; and third, global accessibility. Lux Anantharaman, Co-Founder and CEO explains, “Being able to use AWS as our standard global backend-platform has hugely simplified our operations and reduced technical challenges. Importantly, AWS’s quality also provides us peace of mind with respect to our aim of providing iTwin users the best possible user-experience.”
AWS has exceeded iTwin’s expectations. Anantharaman estimates that the company has saved about four months in time-to-market by using AWS’s offerings instead of alternative offerings. Furthermore, the company has saved at least $20,000-$25,000 in hardware purchase costs and close to $20,000 in physical space and electric power costs. Anantharaman also estimates that AWS costs approximately one sixth of the service his company used previously. And while he did not actively track the man-hours saved due to the simplicity of AWS, Anantharaman notes that this saving was also significant.
Anantharaman describes how the company appreciates the ease with which the iTwin company can set up a scalable backend to support its growing number of users while only having to pay for what the company actually uses: "The whole user experience is refreshingly simple, letting us focus on our core competencies instead of worrying about deploying and maintaining a backend.”
To learn more, visit http://www.itwin.com/.
Added February 11, 2011