When the business says ‘go,’ we can do that now. We can stand up virtual servers instantly, instead of taking several weeks, whenever we need more compute and storage capacity to support new websites or online marketing campaigns.
Tomasz Kozlowski Associate Director, Enterprise Architecture

Allergan is a global pharmaceutical company focused on developing, manufacturing, and commercializing branded pharmaceuticals, devices, and biologic products for patients around the world. Allergan markets leading brands and products for the central nervous system, eye care, medical aesthetics and dermatology, gastroenterology, women’s health, urology, regenerative medicine, and anti-infective therapeutic categories. 

Allergan operates more than 400 product marketing websites used by 18 million consumers and healthcare providers every year. As the company grew and acquired additional drug brands, Allergan needed the agility to quickly add those brands’ websites to its portfolio. “Launching new websites was very challenging, because we had an on-premises data center,” says Cathy Brown, senior manager of IT digital marketing services for Allergan. “The server-procurement process usually took several weeks, and that was not fast enough for us to keep up with the business growth.”

The Allergan IT digital marketing services team also needed more agility in order to respond to the marketing team’s increasing requests to launch new online campaigns and product websites. “Our marketing group requires us to be nimble,” Brown says. “They are constantly pushing us to help create new websites and features, sometimes at the last minute. But with our long server-procurement process, we could not be as responsive as we needed to be.”

To increase flexibility and agility, the company decided to migrate its website portfolio, leveraging the Sitecore CMS platform, to the cloud. However, Allergan had to ensure the chosen cloud provider would help the company meet its compliance requirements, including the fact that all marketing content must be compliant with FDA guidelines for product claims, and any data captured from patients must be HIPAA compliant. 

In 2014, when Allergan initially made the choice to move to the cloud, the public cloud was not widely supported in the life-sciences industry. “We were looking for an advantage to help the company differentiate in a very competitive industry,” says Tomasz Kozlowski, associate director of enterprise architecture for Allergan. “We decided to leapfrog directly to the cloud, even though there were concerns about it in the market.” Allergan chose Amazon Web Services (AWS) as its cloud-services provider. “AWS started to gain a lot of momentum at the time, and our chief information officer was talking a lot about it,” says Brown. “After evaluating the technology, we realized AWS was more than ready, and we felt confident it was the right choice for us.”

Allergan has migrated more than 400 marketing websites and applications from a traditional hosting provider to AWS. The top 10 percent of Allergan’s AWS-hosted websites—by visitor volume—are built in Sitecore CMS. Allergan continues to deliver more websites in SiteCore as the global deployment expands to new markets. The sites and applications run on more than 70 Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances. Allergan uses Amazon CloudFront global content delivery network (CDN) to enable strong website performance. It also takes advantage of Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) instances and more than 30 Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) buckets for storing frequently accessed data.

The company utilizes a 1-Gbps AWS Direct Connect network connection from the Allergan data center to AWS to enable near-zero network latency with its on-premises corporate applications. Its websites and applications are mostly hosted in the AWS East region, which has five Availability Zones.

By using AWS to support its websites and applications, Allergan is better able to support its acquisition strategy. “We are growing at a rate of 10 percent every year, much of that through acquisition,” says Brown. “With the agility we get by using AWS, we can meet that pace of growth because we can onboard new companies and launch new brand websites faster than before.”

The Allergan IT digital marketing services team is now able to meet the needs of the company’s marketing department. “When the business says ‘go,’ we can do that now,” says Kozlowski. “We can stand up virtual servers instantly—instead of taking several weeks—whenever we need more compute and storage capacity to support new websites or online marketing campaigns.”

The company is also meeting compliance requirements by running its websites on AWS. “As a life-sciences company, compliance is a primary business requirement,” Kozlowski says. “Using AWS, we can regulate our applications and data to meet that need.”

Additionally, Allergan is able to reduce some of its operating costs. “We can more easily control our expenses using AWS,” Brown says. “We can spin down systems we’re not using, for example, and just spin them up when we do need them. Previously, we were paying to run servers in the data center whether they were being used or not.”

Allergan saves additional money by taking advantage of the AWS global footprint. The Amazon CloudFront CDN service was a game-changer, allowing Allergan to migrate from the expensive Akamai CDN, giving the company an annual savings of $140,000. “We now have the ability to reach customers in any region of the world without having to invest in our own data centers in those areas,” says Kozlowski. “That is going to be beneficial as we continue growing our business in Asia, Latin America, and other emerging markets.”

With the agility and cost savings gained using AWS, Allergan can differentiate its business. Kozlowski says, “The life-sciences and pharmaceutical industries are extremely competitive, and we can set ourselves apart as an innovator by being on the AWS Cloud.”

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