By moving to Amazon EFS, we optimized our usage of Amazon EC2 instances and reduced our file-storage costs by about 25%.
Renato Parletta CEO

Be Software needed to make some changes. It was 2015, and the company—an international provider of SaaS case-management and employment-services software solutions—had outgrown the data-center-based IT strategy that once served it well.

“We ran our own physical server farms in each of the countries where we operate,” says Renato Parletta, chief executive officer and founder of Be Software. The company is based in Australia and serves government agencies, healthcare providers, and other customers there and in Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Among other drawbacks to hosting its solutions in collocated data centers, the cost of obtaining new physical servers hampered the company’s ability to achieve geographic redundancy and made entering new geographic markets too costly.

“We wanted to cut our large capital expenditures, and we wanted our engineers to focus on writing software instead of worrying about hardware,” says Parletta. “We decided to look at moving our IT infrastructure to the cloud.” 

As Be Software evaluated cloud platforms, it had some non-negotiable requirements. “In the industries we serve, cloud data must be stored in the country of origin, so we needed our cloud provider to have local data centers in each of the countries we operate in,” says Parletta. “Also, the health and employment records our customers manage must be handled and stored in compliance with rigorous privacy protocols and information-security controls.”

After evaluating Microsoft Azure, Be Software chose the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud. “Azure is promising, but our analysis found AWS to be a more mature, full-featured platform,” says Parletta. “Everything AWS says it can do, it can do right out of the box.”

Parletta says AWS also differentiated itself with a simple and highly secure custom solution to assist in migrating data from Be Software’s data centers to AWS. Other benefits to Be Software included AWS support for Linux Ubuntu infrastructures and the availability of assistance from AWS consultants.

Be Software shifted its existing IT infrastructure to the AWS Cloud without making significant changes to applications or architecture. Migrating each data center to AWS took only a few weeks, with almost no downtime. The first phase of the company’s AWS IT infrastructure included Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances used as virtual machines to control the solution and Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) to store backups. All applications used Elastic Load Balancing with the Application Load Balancer option, and the company used AWS CodeCommit for source code management. This phase of the company’s new solution also included Amazon Elastic Block Store (Amazon EBS), Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS), and Amazon Route 53.

By taking advantage of the data centers AWS operates worldwide, Be Software met requirements that cloud data be stored in the countries of origin and was able to enter markets in new countries more easily. Within each geographic region, Be Software distributes its servers across multiple AWS Availability Zones for geographic redundancy.

The new AWS infrastructure also helped Be Software comply more easily with ISO 27001 standards for information-security management and Australia’s Information Security Registered Assessors Program (IRAP). “Because AWS is accredited by IRAP, certifying our new infrastructure on AWS took only four months,” says Parletta. “Back in our data centers, demonstrating IRAP compliance would have taken more than a year.”

Be Software achieved its goal of reducing costs, too. “The move to AWS cut our infrastructure and usage costs by about 50 percent in the first year, and we expect to see ongoing savings of about 30 percent in each subsequent year,” says Parletta.

In other words, Be Software ticked all the boxes in its initial business case for shifting to the AWS Cloud. The results were already good enough to justify the move, yet there was still room for improvement.

One of the IT components that Be Software shifted to AWS largely unchanged was its GlusterFS network file system (NFS) solution. The company used Amazon EC2 instances to manage clustered Gluster environments in each country where the company operates and, as a storage layer, substituted Amazon EBS volumes for the SAN servers it had used in its old data centers.

“This solution had limitations,” says Parletta. “We had to provision and pay for very large storage volumes on Amazon EBS that we weren’t yet using. Our engineers had to spend time managing a pool of Amazon EC2 instances when they could have been doing more valuable work.”

Be Software replaced its legacy Gluster solution with Amazon Elastic File System (Amazon EFS). By choosing Amazon EFS, Be Software obtained simple-to-use, easily monitored file storage that automatically scales up or down as the company adds or removes files, eliminating the need to allocate volume storage in advance.

“With Amazon EFS, we’re only paying for the storage we’re using and don’t need to pay for Amazon EC2 instances to run our file-storage solution,” says Parletta. “By moving to Amazon EFS, we optimized our usage of Amazon EC2 instances and reduced our file-storage costs by about 25 percent.”

Switching to Amazon EFS benefited the company in other ways, too. “Before Amazon EFS, we were paying a performance cost for geographic redundancy,” says Parletta. “After going to Amazon EFS, our file system writes were about 130 percent faster.”

Parletta is convinced that moving the Be Software IT infrastructure into the AWS Cloud was the right decision. “Lots of software products and cloud platforms are marketed really well but turn out to be a little flaky once you deploy them,” says Parletta. “AWS has never let us down. Now that we’ve shifted into the AWS Cloud, we’ve eliminated hardware headaches and can focus exclusively on our clients, our software products, and our business strategy.” 

Learn more about simple, scalable file storage with Amazon EFS.