Being on AWS is all about time to market for us. In the past, our hardware deployment process was a barrier to getting to market quickly. The cloud gives us the agility needed to deliver new products fast and effectively.
Jeff Reihl CTO

LexisNexis Legal & Professional is a global provider of content and technology solutions for legal and business professionals, serving customers in more than 175 countries. A digital pioneer, LexisNexis was the first company to bring legal and business information online with its Lexis and Nexis services. Today, LexisNexis Legal & Professional helps professionals work faster, more easily, and more effectively through its research service portfolio, which offers access to 60,000 sources for legal, news, and business information and public records. Each day the service processes more than 40 million documents and 77 million public records, with more than 1 trillion connections across all content types.

LexisNexis maintains a business-critical News Archive system, which includes a database of more than 2 billion searchable documents. In 2015, as the news archive continued to grow, the company sought to refresh the underlying technology platform. “The hardware in our main data center was aging, and, at the same time, we were getting ready to double the size of the archive,” says Jeff Reihl, the organization’s chief technology officer. “We were looking at having to buy a significant amount of new equipment for our data center.”

However, the organization was limited in its ability to quickly procure and deploy hardware in its data center. “It sometimes took two to three months to get new hardware deployed,” Reihl says. “As a result, I had to buy extra equipment and put it on the floor before I knew the precise needs. We needed more agility when it came to the data center.”

LexisNexis also wanted to be able to scale the News Archive database up or down, depending on subscriber traffic. “System demand varies significantly throughout a day, and we were looking for higher elasticity to manage that cost-effectively,” Reihl says. Additionally, the company wanted to ensure high performance for the archive. “Our product platform is built on the idea of search and retrieval. It’s a research platform that’s analyzing legal and news data and delivering that data based on customer queries. That requires very strong performance,” says Reihl.

To meet its agility and elasticity requirements, LexisNexis looked for a cloud-based platform to support search capabilities across its News Archive and legal content. “We wanted the ability to quickly deploy and stand up systems, and then grow them at a moment’s notice,” says Reihl. “We knew the cloud would deliver those capabilities.” LexisNexis tested several private cloud solutions before choosing Amazon Web Services (AWS). “AWS is so far ahead of the other vendors when it comes to scale, support, and features that it wasn’t a difficult decision to make,” Reihl says.

The organization moved its News Archive system to the AWS cloud, using high-memory Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) instances. “We needed the higher-memory instances for our archive search engine, because it requires a lot of memory to perform at a high level,” says Reihl.

LexisNexis also plans to use Auto Scaling, an AWS feature that automatically increases the number EC2 instances during higher subscriber activity and then lowers capacity when not needed. In addition, the company uses AWS CloudFormation templates for creating and managing its AWS environment. “We really like the template-driven design for provisioning resources. It simplifies the whole process,” Reihl says. LexisNexis is also using multiple AWS Regions and AWS Availability Zones for failover and redundancy.

The company worked with AWS Premier Consulting Partner Cognizant to develop the News Archive’s platform. “Cognizant was a valuable partner to us during the development and migration process,” says Reihl. The entire News Archive migration was completed in four months.

By supporting its News Archive in the AWS Cloud, LexisNexis can now deliver new products and services to its subscribers faster. “Being on AWS is all about time to market for us,” says Reihl. “In the past, our hardware deployment process was a barrier to getting to market quickly. The cloud gives us the agility needed to deliver new products fast and effectively. Now, Instead of waiting two to three months to get a new system up and running, we can do it in under a week.”

LexisNexis can easily expand compute resources to support the growing News Archive and other strategic workloads. “Once we migrated the News Archive to AWS, we immediately gained the level of elasticity we needed for our data center.  Using AWS, we can bring new servers up in only a few minutes if there’s a spike in user demand," Reihl says, adding that he expects this will save the company money. "This will lead to cost savings for us, because we can bring servers up or down, matching the cost of running the archive with the amount of load we’re seeing on the system."

LexisNexis also has the strong performance its News Archive search engine needs. “Our subscribers can search and retrieve news documents faster than before because of the high-memory Amazon EC2 instances we’re using,” says Reihl. In addition, the company has better visibility into system usage. “AWS is completely transparent,” says Reihl. “I can see the specific number of cycles used or the amount of disk space and bandwidth available, so there’s no more guesswork involved.”

Going forward, LexisNexis also plans to implement a new cloud operational model that follows an agile, continuous deployment software development approach. “We anticipate that the agility, elasticity, and efficiency delivered by AWS will be a huge boon to our entire product platform,” says Reihl. 

Cognizant is an Amazon Partner Network Premier Consulting Partner and a global provider of information technology, business consulting, enterprise applications, and business process services. For more information, visit the Cognizant listing in the AWS Partner Directory.  

To learn more about how AWS can help you manage your data center migration, visit our AWS Cloud Data Migration details page.