IXD Case Study
Formed in November 2014, IXD is a secure email and information delivery service that supports desktop, mobile, and automated messaging. Designed by security experts, the company’s products use proven encryption to make it possible for customers to send and receive confidential faxes, emails, and documents securely and easily across the Internet. Users can integrate IXD services with their business applications, medical records, and Microsoft Office 365l, making it easy to transmit information from within their everyday applications. IXD products are aimed at customers in many fields—including healthcare, accounting, human resources, insurance, and legal services—who need to securely transmit information over the Internet. IXD has been experiencing monthly growth of more than 60 percent.
We have confidence that AWS will have the features we need when we need them, which means we can sign on new customers that much faster.”
To differentiate itself in a crowded marketplace, IXD needed to offer its services for less than that of its competitors. “A lot of our competitors charge $15 to $25 per use per month for their solutions, which is really high,” says Ryan Farmer, cofounder of IXD. “We wanted to completely disrupt the market by offering our services at a much lower price point.”
In addition, IXD needed to build the highest levels of security into its services. Specifically, the company wanted to encrypt customer documents using proven methods. It also needed to ensure its services enable customers to meet strict compliance standards such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the U.S. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP), and the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS). “Many of those regulations require combinations of audit trails detailing how your data is stored and transmitted and who can access that data,” says Farmer. “It was critical that we build the most robust controls into our infrastructure.”
Why Amazon Web Services
IXD chose AWS because it offered an encryption and pricing model that allowed the company to offer its services at a significantly lower price compared to its competitors. Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), which provides resizable compute capacity in the cloud, uses the latest Intel Xeon processors that support Intel’s new encryption instruction set, the Advanced Encryption Standard – New Instructions (AES-NI), allowing data to be encrypted natively at the hardware level. The result is that information can be encrypted 10 to 20 times faster than with traditional encryption methods, reducing the amount of computation resources IXD needs to pay for.
In addition, the Amazon EC2 pricing model supplies credits that IXD uses when it goes over its baseline computing allowance for T2 instances, allowing the company to save money when it experiences bursts of activity at unpredictable times. ”Between those two features, we concluded that we would save 75 percent over what we would have paid had we gone with another cloud services provider,” says Farmer.
Another factor that led IXD to choose AWS was its approach to regulatory compliance, which allows customers to place their instances on specific physical servers in a virtual private cloud. ”AWS provides a lot of good documentation explaining how security is approached, how its data centers are partitioned, where the virtual machines run, and what the differences are between reserved and shared instances,”says Farmer. “All of that helped to seal the deal.”
Altogether, it took IXD about nine months to introduce its IXD Secure Mail service. Using Amazon DynamoDB, IXD was able to tap into a fast and flexible database service without having to create one itself. The company was also able to run Dynamo DB on its own computers, allowing it to save on provisioned throughput, data storage, and data transfer fees as it built the secure email service. “With DynamoDB, you tell it what throughput, what table, and what keys you want, and you’ve instantly created a table,” Farmer says. “Moreover, scaling up to accommodate increased messaging traffic is very simple—it’s just a matter of changing some throughput values.”
IXD also used AWS Elastic Beanstalk to quickly deploy and scale its services. “Rather than writing scripts, we just used the user interface to provide information about the auto-scaling groups we wanted, and we were able to hit the ground running,” says Farmer. Other AWS services IXD uses include Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) for secure, durable, highly scalable object storage, Amazon CloudFront for its content delivery web service, Elastic Load Balancing to automatically distribute incoming application traffic across multiple Amazon EC2 instances, and Amazon Simple Email Service (Amazon SES) for its internal email.
To provide an extra layer of data protection for its customers, IXD is using Amazon S3 Server Side Encryption for Data at Rest in addition to the native Intel AES-NI instruction set. And it plans to tap into AWS CloudHSM to serve customers who want to manage their own encryption keys. “The minute that happens, we will deploy AWS CloudHSM,” Farmer says. “That’s huge, as it will help us to win new accounts.”
By basing its business on AWS, IXD is disrupting the crowded marketplace for secure information delivery. “With AWS, we’re able to offer a product that’s 80 percent cheaper than many of our competitors’,” says Farmer. “We couldn’t have done that with other cloud service providers, and we definitely couldn’t have done that on premises.”
The reliable AWS price structure also allows IXD to manage its costs in a predictable way. “Amazon offers a consistent pricing model,” says Farmer. “They’re not going to do something totally unpredictable like saying you can only keep your current discount if you buy these additional products. Amazon is super clear about what things cost, which allows us to plan.”
In addition, IXD has been able to offer its customers the highest level of data protection. Using AWS, the company has been able to create multiple layers of encryption, while complying with stringent security and privacy regulations. “We openly tell our customers that we’re using AWS because they see it as the cloud standard, especially when it comes to compliance,” says Farmer. “With AWS, our customers know they have the control, agility, audit trail, and scale they need, and that helps us to win business.”
Moreover, with easy-to-use services such as Amazon DynamoDB and AWS Elastic Beanstalk, IXD shaved an estimated 10 weeks off its development time, bringing its services to market more quickly. “We didn’t have to write a bunch of scripts to spin up, manage, or automatically scale instances,” says Farmer. “That would have taken us at least a couple of weeks. Instead, I just used the user interface and told it about the auto-scaling groups we wanted, and it took us a couple of minutes.”
Ultimately, AWS is preparing IXD for future growth. “If our customers come back to us and say ‘I need this extra 10 percent,’ we can tap into the right AWS capabilities and build them into our services very quickly,” Farmer says. “We have confidence that AWS will have the features we need when we need them, which means we can sign on new customers that much faster.”
Formed in November 2014, IXD is a secure email and information delivery service that supports desktop, mobile, and automated messaging.
AWS Services Used
Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) is an object storage service that offers industry-leading scalability, data availability, security, and performance.
Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) is a web service that provides secure, resizable compute capacity in the cloud.
Amazon DynamoDB is a key-value and document database that delivers single-digit millisecond performance at any scale.
AWS Elastic Beanstalk
AWS Elastic Beanstalk is an easy-to-use service for deploying and scaling web applications and services developed with Java, .NET, PHP, Node.js, Python, Ruby, Go, and Docker.
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