IT Era Helps Peruvian Environmental Agency Gain Agility, Make Informed Decisions Using AWS

Executive Summary

By moving to the AWS Cloud, INAIGEM has substantially improved its overall agility and accelerated its ability to make informed decisions. INAIGEM is the Peruvian Ministry of the Environment’s agency tasked with monitoring and creating early warning systems for glaciers. It uses Amazon CloudFront for website content delivery, Amazon EC2 for running its applications, and AWS Auto Scaling to swiftly react to demand.

Glacier Data Management

In recent years, climate change has had a huge impact on the glaciers and mountain ecosystems that cover nearly 50 percent of Peru as well as on their surrounding populations. This environmental challenge, combined with actions that the government set in motion in the aftermath of the devastating 1970 Ancash earthquake and landslide, was the impetus for the creation of the National Glacier and Mountain Ecosystems Investigation Institute (INAIGEM) five years ago. The agency has grown rapidly since, monitoring the country’s glaciers and high mountain lakes and setting up early warning systems for landslides. The institute also researches mountain ecosystem resources for use by local populations.

Hernando Tavera, Director of INAIGEM, emphasizes the important role that modern technology plays in the institute’s research. Before, he recalls, “You camped out on the mountain near the glacier for days or weeks to get the data. Now, technology brings us closer to our object of study and you can collect data from miles away.”

How quickly INAIGEM can collect, send, and process this data directly affects the quality of decisions that can sometimes have life or death consequences. The faster alerts can be assessed and sent to the population, the faster evasive action can be taken in the event of a landslide or avalanche.

Migration in Times of COVID-19

There is a standing government-wide push toward digitization and reducing paper use to zero in order to streamline operations. This spring, the institute needed to decide whether to create an on-premises data center for its growing data management needs or to move its entire system to the cloud. Decision making shifted into high gear in spring 2020, when the lockdown due to the onset of the pandemic required all INAIGEM employees to work from home. Earlier data management problems were compounded by increased online communication.  

INAIGEM engaged with IT Era Process Consulting (IT Era)—a local AWS Advanced Consulting Partner with expertise in migration, the public sector, and education—to discuss its pressing needs and possible AWS solutions. “AWS offers flexibility at the commercial as well as the technological level,” points out Alex Han Tejada Lozada, the IT Era Cloud Architect who supported the implementation of the project architecture for INAIGEM.

After a month-long proof of concept guided by IT Era’s support and training, INAIGEM decided to migrate to the AWS Cloud. David Lezcano, Head of the Information and Technology Office at INAIGEM, says, “We couldn’t keep adding data storage units, weaving spider webs that take up more and more physical space. And we felt that AWS was the most reliable cloud provider.” 

“The best thing about working with IT Era and AWS is the possibility of continuing to innovate. The cloud gives us the flexibility to run a lot of tests, innovate, and keep making progress in the digital transformation of the public sector and at INAIGEM.”

- Axel Echevarría Piérola, Solutions Architect, INAIGEM

Taking the Secure Leap to the Cloud

IT Era helped INAIGEM to initially implement the AWS solution after deciding on the service provider. The institute uses Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances to run its applications, and it relies on Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) to store and help safeguard its growing data resources. In addition, it takes advantage of Amazon CloudFront for highly secure content delivery and AWS CloudFormation to quickly provision resources.

INAIGEM is also leveraging Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) with Amazon Aurora. “For the database, we’re working with the native Amazon RDS with Amazon Aurora to be able to independently scale the database,” says Axel Echevarría Piérola, Solutions Architect at INAIGEM. “And when there’s no activity, like at night, the database automatically shuts down and we save money for the institution.” To handle high demand, the institute relies on AWS Auto Scaling and Elastic Load Balancing for automatic scaling.

The institute’s cloud solution became operational in record time, just under six weeks after first raising the issue. INAIGEM is the first Peruvian government body to make use of cloud technology.

Streamlining Operations and Costs

According to Lezcano, “Paperwork at the institute used to take days to send from headquarters in Huaraz to Lima or Cuzco and more days to get back to us.” Tavera recalls, “Before the migration, you might get 80 documents to sign and you’d have to put a brace on your wrist by the end of the day.” Now, by taking advantage of AWS services, those documents are signed and sent in seconds. 

INAIGEM was working with a strained centralized governmental system. “You’d send out a thousand emails at once and trigger problems in other departments, like they were getting a busy signal,” says Tavera. “Now you can send a message to the cloud, and the cloud takes care of the rest.”

The institute has also become more agile and faster in terms of internal and external communication and, consequently, in decision making. In addition, Lezcano calculates there have been savings of 80 percent on items that are no longer needed, like couriers, office supplies, and printers. Because of the success of IT Era’s rollout of the AWS solution, other agencies have shown interest in moving to the cloud as well.

INAIGEM is currently working on migrating other applications to the cloud to improve security, flexibility, data backup, and performance. Echevarría concludes, “The best thing about working with IT Era and AWS is the possibility of continuing to innovate. The cloud gives us the flexibility to run a lot of tests, innovate, and keep making progress in the digital transformation of the public sector and at INAIGEM.” Being able to learn more and move faster on the information INAIGEM collects, when disaster happens the government can act quickly to save Peruvian lives.

“You’d send out a thousand emails at once and trigger problems in other departments, like they were getting a busy signal. Now you can send a message to the cloud, and the cloud takes care of the rest.”

- Hernando Tavera, Director, INAIGEM

INAIGEM

About INAIGEM

INAIGEM was founded in 2015 under the Peruvian Ministry of the Environment and has offices in Huaraz, Lima, and Cuzco. It carries out research in the field of glaciology and mountain ecosystems with a special focus on glacier and glacial-environment risk management. Its work makes local populations safer and more prosperous and adds critical knowledge and resources to educational curriculums.

About IT Era

Working throughout Latin America and Spain, IT Era Process is an AWS Advanced Consulting Partner that specializes in deploying cloud services that can lower its customers’ operating costs and boost productivity. It spearheads business digital transformation, helps orchestrate IT services outsourcing, and offers a wide range of IT training. The company’s strength is identifying its customers’ needs quickly and precisely.

Published February 2021