GrayHair Software Doubles Speed of Innovation while Reducing Costs by Over 50% on AWS


GrayHair Software (GrayHair) provides direct mail solutions to leading companies in the United States. It focuses on turning data into business-ready intelligence, enabling stakeholders to reduce fraud, optimize mail campaigns, and enhance the client experience.

Since 2000, GrayHair used an on-premises Microsoft SQL Server that created performance and stability issues, inhibited staff flexibility and productivity, and, as a result, led to service downtimes and missed service-level agreements. 

To solve these issues, the company chose to digitally transform on Amazon Web Services (AWS). Using AWS services, GrayHair achieved greater operational efficiency and faster time to market while reducing technical debt.

Home delivery service and working service mind, Woman working barcode scan to confirm sending customer in post office

Now, it takes us 3 months to build a product. In the future, on AWS, we’ll do that in 10% of the time.”

Jeff Hummel
Chief Operating Officer and Chief Information Officer, GrayHair Software

Facilitating a Digital Transformation on AWS

GrayHair, which processes 55 billion touchpoints of address data, realized that its on-premises solution could no longer support its customers’ growing needs. Querying just 4 years’ worth of data locked up its database. And because most of its solutions and databases were coupled, the entire system would see an interruption if one piece failed. This made the development and maintenance of software features challenging and expensive. So in 2019, GrayHair used the AWS “working backwards” methodology to build a digital transformation strategy. The company is using this strategy to help reach its resiliency and efficiency goals.

Achieving Scalability, Resiliency, and Cost Efficiency

To modernize its database solution while reducing management costs, GrayHair uses Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS), which provides cost-efficient and resizable capacity while automating administrative tasks. For analytics, it uses Amazon Redshift, a cloud data warehouse that makes it simple to gain insights from data. By using Amazon RDS and Amazon Redshift together, GrayHair can query and combine exabytes of structured and semistructured mail data. After migrating databases and analytics to AWS, GrayHair optimized its use of compute power for its extract, transform, load processes by using Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) Spot Instances—which cost up to 90 percent less than Amazon EC2 On-Demand Instances. 

As a result of its transformation, GrayHair reduced costs by over 50 percent and doubled its software delivery pace. The company appreciates the resiliency of Amazon EC2. “The ability to recover from a problem within seconds on an Amazon EC2 instance is something we never had before,” says Jeff Hummel, chief operating officer and chief information officer of GrayHair. By using AWS services to automatically scale, its small DevOps team is no longer burdened by capacity planning. “We can directly match the cost of a service to what we charge,” says Hummel. “We can automatically tier prices and give customers a cost estimate.” The automation also improved GrayHair’s organizational agility—a trend Hummel expects to continue. “Now, it takes us 3 months to build a product,” he says. “In the future, on AWS, we’ll do that in 10 percent of the time.” GrayHair now processes 25 percent of data handled by the United States Postal Service annually and is poised to meet future demand.

Turning an Eye to Artificial Intelligence

GrayHair plans to use artificial intelligence and machine learning on AWS for fraud protection and effective mail delivery, and it may also create blockchain ledgers to track mail. By using AWS, GrayHair reduced its technical debt, cut costs, and achieved scalability and resiliency to better serve its customers. “AWS cares about our business,” says Hummel. “Using AWS is a no-brainer.”

About GrayHair Software

Founded in 2000, GrayHair Software offers solutions that optimize the direct mail campaigns of enterprise mailers and mail service providers across insurance, finance, utilities, retail, telecommunications, and nonprofit sectors.

Benefits of AWS

  • Doubled its speed of innovation
  • Reduced costs by over 50% through migration and optimization
  • Reduced technical debt
  • Expects to build products in 10% of the time
  • Processes 25% of the data handled by USPS

AWS Services Used

Amazon Redshift

No other data warehouse makes it as easy to gain new insights from all your data. With Amazon Redshift, you can query and combine exabytes of structured and semi-structured data across your data warehouse, operational database, and data lake using standard SQL. 

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Amazon Relational Databases Service (RDS)

Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) makes it easy to set up, operate, and scale a relational database in the cloud.

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Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2)

Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) is a web service that provides secure, resizable compute capacity in the cloud. It is designed to make web-scale cloud computing easier for developers. 

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Amazon EC2 Spot Instances

Amazon EC2 Spot Instances let you take advantage of unused EC2 capacity in the AWS cloud. Spot Instances are available at up to a 90% discount compared to On-Demand prices. 

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