Punta Gorda Airport Protects Critical Data During Hurricane with eCloud Disaster Recovery Solution on AWS

Executive Summary

AWS Partner eCloud Managed Solutions helped Punta Gorda Airport build a disaster recovery (DR) solution in a multi-Availability Zone deployment using AWS CloudFormation templates. With its new DR environment, Punta Gorda Airport backed up its full application environment hours before Hurricane Ian hit the region, avoiding $30,000 in daily lost revenue and enhancing their security and compliance posture.

Seeking a Better Backup System for Critical Applications

The Punta Gorda Airport (PGD) is a small but busy airport in Southwest Florida, near the city of Punta Gorda. Every day, 73 commercial and general aviation flights depart from the airport’s three runways for destinations across the US.

The airport’s two-person IT team manages a group of mission-critical workloads, including a finance system, a security application that controls all access doors, and a parking application. Because of the importance of these applications, the IT team needs to reliably back up application data every day. Tim Montoya, manager of IT services at the Punta Gorda Airport, says, “We process parking payments on the parking system server, and we could lose revenue every day if that server went down. We had a legacy on-premises IT environment, and we wanted to find a better, more efficient way to do database backups.”

The airport was also interested in moving its application servers to AWS because it relied on an aging on-premises platform. “We were looking at the possibility of moving into a new on-site infrastructure, and we realized the cloud would probably be more cost-effective and more scalable,” Montoya says.

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We demonstrated that even if all our systems went down, we could still have all the data in the cloud and be ready to go right away.”

Tim Montoya
Manager of IT Services, Punta Gorda Airport

Collaborating with eCloud to Deploy a DR Solution on AWS

PGD addressed its requirements by engaging eCloud Managed Solutions, an AWS Partner and AWS Global Security & Compliance Acceleration Program Partner, to discuss migrating its on-premises servers to Amazon Web Services (AWS). During initial conversations, eCloud suggested that the airport build a disaster recovery (DR) solution on AWS before conducting a full migration to the cloud. “We felt it made sense for the airport to prove to its leadership that it could run their mission critical workloads in the cloud before doing a complete migration,” says Eric Sanders, cofounder and managing partner of eCloud Managed Solutions.

eCloud conducted a proof of concept (POC) that started with moving servers to AWS Control Tower. Next, eCloud set up a multi-Availability Zone deployment using AWS CloudFormation templates, in addition to review, analysis, and recommendations for PGD’s reference architectures on AWS. In the next phases of the POC, eCloud deployed defined critical workloads and resources into a target DR region on AWS and implemented security and networking capabilities to enable DR failover. eCloud then used AWS CloudFormation to templatize environments for future builds and migrate some servers to Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) and Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS).

As PGD began testing its new AWS DR solution, Hurricane Ian, a Category 4 storm, grew larger and began approaching the city. “The hurricane was bearing down right on Punta Gorda, so we called the airport to tell the IT team that we can replicate everything in their environment, which we realized was beyond the POC,” says Sanders. “However, we knew it was the right thing to do because the airport’s system still needed to be up and running if the storm knocked out power.”

Fully Replicating an Application Environment Hours before a Hurricane

Using its new DR solution, PGD’s IT team replicated and backed up 12 terabytes of data on AWS shortly before Hurricane Ian made landfall. “We started the replication process the night before the hurricane hit, and we confirmed that everything was fully backed up the next morning. Overall, we completed the replication and backup process less than 24 hours before the storm hit the airport,” says Montoya. “This was critical because the airport was in the direct path of the storm.”

PGD never had to failback to AWS at any point during the event. “That was probably one of the biggest selling points to our leadership because we proved we could fully recover everything in a disaster situation,” says Montoya. “We demonstrated that even if all our systems went down, we could still have all the data in the cloud and be ready to go right away.”

Empty waiting room in airport terminal

Avoiding $30,000 in Lost Daily Revenue

Because its systems never went down and it had replicated data for all key applications, PGD avoided $30,000 in lost parking revenue per day. In addition, the airport maintained its internet connection and Wi-Fi service throughout the hurricane because its data center sits in the air traffic control tower—the most secure building at the airport. “We had disaster relief trucks and other people coming to the airport because we had internet up when nobody else did,” says Montoya.

Enhancing Security and Compliance

eCloud enhanced the DR solution’s security by using a range of AWS security services including Amazon GuardDuty for threat detection and AWS Security Hub for security management. As a result, PGD could more easily comply with SOC 2 and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) cybersecurity frameworks. “We made sure to integrate data encryption and least privilege access control when we built the solution,” Sanders says. Security, governance and compliance standards are particularly important to eCloud because the company is part of the AWS Global Security & Compliance Acceleration Program.

As the next step, PGD plans to work with eCloud again to fully deploy the DR solution into production and begin migrating its on-premises servers to AWS. The airport expects these moves to provide more flexibility as its IT environment expands. “Next year, we plan to double in size with the expansion of a terminal,” Montoya says. “Being on AWS will give us the flexibility to scale as we need to instead of paying for infrastructure and never using it.”

Punta Gorda Airport

About Punta Gorda Airport

Punta Gorda Airport (PGD) is a commercial and general aviation airport located near Punta Gorda, Florida. Owned and operated by the Charlotte County Airport Authority, PGD is an important transportation and economic asset for the region, providing hundreds of on-site jobs, space for business and aviation tenants, and more than $1.7 billion in total economic output.

AWS Services Used

Benefits

  • Backed up full application environment hours before Hurricane Ian hit
  • Avoided $30,000 in daily lost revenue
  • Enhances security and compliance posture

About AWS Partner eCloud Managed Solutions

eCloud Managed Solutions, based in Milton, Georgia, provides solutions that help organizations increase security and efficiency. Founded in 2016, eCloud is a woman-owned business and AWS Partner that guides organizations in evaluating, migrating, and operating to better support business requirements and outcomes.

Published January 2024