AWS Case Study: Torrent Technologies
About Torrent Technologies
Torrent Technologies, Inc. offers business services to insurance companies participating in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The company’s flagship product, TorrentFlood®, is a transaction processing platform that allows agents to accept payments, issue new policies, and process claims all in real-time. Built on a Microsoft platform leveraging Windows Server, .NET and SQL Server, TorrentFlood® provides a user-friendly interface, along with an intense focus on data accuracy and compliance with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) regulations. Torrent has seventy employees and the operations are headquartered in Kalispell, Montana.
In 2006, Torrent launched TorrentFlood® from a Seattle co-location facility. The company’s backup and disaster recovery (DR) environments were situated in an operations center in Kalispell, Montana. Between these two sites, Torrent spent millions of dollars on physical hardware.
Despite this substantial investment, Torrent anticipated the business potential in cloud technology. As such, the company designed the TorrentFlood® architecture to be forward-compatible with emerging virtualization and hosted services. This gave Torrent confidence in its future versatility—and an edge on its competitors still locked into legacy and mainframe systems.
By early 2012, the company was attracting many large clients and Torrent decided the time had arrived to utilize the platform’s native flexibility and utilize the advantages provided by cloud computing solutions. They partnered with 2nd Watch, a Premier Consulting Partner of the AWS Partner Network (APN).
Jeff Aden, President of 2nd Watch, says, “Because Torrent was quickly capturing market share with a robust pipeline for the next few years, they realized it was time to leverage the power of their software architecture to avoid the escalating capital investment in physical environments and to more elegantly and seamlessly accommodate the large scale growth eminent in their business. This also empowers their technologists to focus on continued product innovation rather than being bogged down with a commodity service such as hardware support.”
Why Amazon Web Services
2nd Watch helped Torrent jump start this transition by creating a new DR system within Amazon Web Services (AWS). The DR, entitled Pilot Light, replaces the backup datacenter in Montana with scalable features from AWS, wide-ranging functionally, support for the Windows Server and .NET platform, and usage-based pricing. AWS also delivers convenient portability for existing Microsoft licenses, through the Microsoft License Mobility program, which allows Microsoft volume license customers to use their existing Windows Server applications licenses on AWS without paying any additional Microsoft licensing fees.
Once Pilot Light is entirely in place, Torrent will create a full production site within AWS, and extend the capabilities of its remaining physical infrastructure through Amazon VPC. Torrent linked their corporate headquarters and colocation environment directly to their Amazon VPC. This flexibility allows them to provision an unlimited pool of resources within minutes, all seamlessly linked to their existing private environment. The ease of connecting hardware appliances with a VPN Gateway allowed their network operations group to deal with more interesting challenges. By offloading work into the cloud, the company is able to offer its unused machines to clients who prefer dedicated hardware.
Because Torrent generates terabytes of data, and is required to hold it for long periods of time, 2nd Watch implemented Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3). The combination of durability and affordability provided by Amazon S3 allows Torrent to archive data while keeping it readily accessible.
In addition, Torrent leveraged Elastic Load Balancing to load balance between multiple physical data centers, costing the company only pennies per month for redundant traffic distribution. Because of the complexity of their DNS needs, Torrent was running their own redundant DNS servers. These servers were beginning to age, so instead of investing in new hardware, they simply moved all their records to Amazon Route 53. This eliminated a large capital expenditure and reduced management overhead for their network operations team.
Although flood events are unpredictable, the TorrentFlood® platform can now scale to meet usage spikes without adding IT staff or local resources. 2nd Watch estimates that use of AWS will save Torrent 30 to 40 percent over the cost of upgrading its datacenters, as well as open the platform to even larger clients.
Blake Stout, Torrent’s Vice President of Technology, explains, “From the beginning, Torrent’s goal has always been to focus on being the best at what we do: providing fresh technology, innovative solutions, and customized services for insurance companies, lending institutions, and the U.S. government. Migrating our disaster recovery site and eventually our production environment to the cloud simply makes sense for us. It is just the next step in providing the additional scalability, security, and flexibility our customers are looking for.”
Stout continues, “We have made a habit of partnering with companies that are also the best at what they do, so when we started looking for a cloud solution, partnering with 2nd Watch and AWS was a no-brainer. I look forward to our continued collaboration so we can all focus on what we do best.”
To learn more about how AWS can help support your Disaster Recovery needs, visit our Disaster Recovery details page: http://aws.amazon.com/disaster-recovery/.
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