IDEXX Scales Pet-Health Technology Infrastructure Using AWS

Pets are increasingly seen as family members deserving of the very best healthcare. The global market for companion animal veterinary services is growing at an estimated seven percent annually, with spending on pet healthcare delivery in 2017 surpassing $42 billion in the United States. Behind these numbers are the real-life stories of dogs, cats, and other companion creatures who live happier, longer lives due to improvements in veterinary care—benefiting pets and the humans who love them.

Helping make these happy stories a reality is IDEXX, a global leader in veterinary diagnostics and software. IDEXX’s companion-animal diagnostic tests were used to assess the health status of more than 35 million dogs and cats worldwide in 2017.

“We’re growing rapidly and are fortunate to have high Net Promoter Scores. We need global partners who can scale with us, providing the uptime and reliability we need—with the right structure—to run our business,” says Ken Grady, chief information officer at IDEXX. “With AWS, we have scaled our infrastructure, added necessary redundancy, and improved productivity—all of which has helped IDEXX continue to deliver excellent customer experience.”

“With AWS, we have scaled our infrastructure, added necessary redundancy, and improved productivity—all of which has helped IDEXX continue to deliver excellent customer experience.”

Ken Grady, Chief Information Officer, IDEXX

  • About IDEXX
  • IDEXX is a member of the S&P 500 Index and a global leader in veterinary diagnostics and software.

  • Benefits
    • Doubled IoT capacity
    • Managed millions of images
    • Deployed advanced data lake
    • Sped delivery of test results
    • Increased pace of innovation
  • AWS Services Used

Speeding Results to Improve Care and Communication

Initially, IDEXX hosted its own Internet of Things infrastructure for Smart Service, its support solution for in-practice diagnostic equipment. IDEXX needed to scale the platform to help enable the company’s growth, so it decided to take advantage of Amazon Web Services (AWS) and migrated Smart Service to AWS IoT. “IDEXX was growing very quickly, and we needed a platform that could carry us into the future,” says Jeff Dixon, chief software engineering officer at IDEXX. “AWS IoT enabled us to scale our Smart Service platform from 60,000 to more than 145,000 devices and growing, with high availability and no performance bottlenecks.” Grady adds, “With Smart Service, we keep equipment running so busy veterinarians can provide test results during the appointment. That gives pet owners peace of mind and ensures any necessary treatment gets started immediately.”

Veterinarians can also send samples directly to IDEXX reference labs for testing. As with in-practice instruments, getting results fast is critical for effective treatment or understanding what’s next—and for the comfort of the animals.

In addition to migrating Smart Service, AWS supports IDEXX’s new reporting infrastructure. The company’s previous reporting infrastructure wasn’t meeting IDEXX’s high standards, so it adopted AWS Lambda serverless computing to break the bottleneck. “It was a large, monolithic environment that used a parallel queuing architecture and could only handle 20 reports at a time,” says Grady. “These reporting workloads are highly variable, ranging from a few thousand tests on a typical Saturday to 10,000 or more per hour on the busiest day of the week. In a traditional environment, we would have to provision for maximum capacity and keep servers running at all times. AWS Lambda scales seamlessly to match demand, and we pay only for what we use. Scalability means we can get results to veterinarians faster.”

Managing Diagnostic Images at Scale

Veterinarians also use diagnostic imaging equipment to help them provide care to pets. However, the large images that diagnostic imaging equipment produces can be hard to store, manage, and share. Using AWS, IDEXX has found a solution that helps reduce the IT burden on veterinary practices, while also supporting collaboration among remote medical specialists.

With its Image Manager service, IDEXX stores more than two million images per week using the scalable storage and fast performance of AWS Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3). “Image Manager provides unlimited storage and ensures images are backed up securely in AWS,” says Dixon. “Additionally, our Web Picture Archiving and Communication System application runs on the AWS Cloud to support real-time collaboration among radiologists and other specialists anywhere in the world.”

Veterinary practices gain peace of mind that critical patient images are always available, without the need to manage complex storage infrastructure, and are backed up for disaster-recovery purposes. And veterinarians can access the images from any device—supporting better health and patient outcomes with a complete health record.

Unifying Data for Discovery

IDEXX also seeks to unify data gathered across its services and mine it for insights to drive improvements that positively impact pet health. This vision starts with the big-data capabilities of AWS.

“With more than 250 million pets, 6 billion invoice items, and 600 million prescriptions on file, we have the opportunity to discover tremendous medical insights,” says Dixon. “AWS enabled us to iterate on our data-lake architecture very quickly to discover the best solution for our needs.”

The company ultimately chose Amazon Elastic MapReduce (Amazon EMR) for its big-data solution. Grady reports, “We are achieving incredible data ingestion, processing, and query performance, and I don’t have to invest capital to do it.” It’s one more way that IDEXX uses advanced AWS technology to support improved veterinary care.

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