Sonian Inc., based in Boston, has recently released Sonian Archive SA2, a hosted archive service for organizations of all sizes. Their customers, ranging from government, healthcare and education to a variety of private companies, experience a lot of pain around e-mail archiving, compliance, e-discovery and storage management. Sonian hopes to resolve those pains with its Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) archive solution.

Sonian Builds Scalable Information Archive and Discovery Platform on AWS (3:23)


In their previous business endeavors, Sonian’s founders built custom data centers that cost millions of dollars to build and operate. When they formed Sonian in 2006, the founders determined they needed a different solution. After researching options, Sonian’s CTO Greg Arnette realized, “Amazon Web Services was the only company with the right mix of services, price points, and sustained-business viability to allow us to build an enterprise archive infrastructure.” In mastering the art of digital content archiving, Sonian needed reliable and cost-effective storage repositories to store and index infinite volumes of e-mail messages and customer data. Sonian also needed a computing platform that could scale on demand to process data quickly and handle message volumes that peaked at certain times of the day.

To meet these broad needs, Sonian built their entire software stack on the AWS Cloud: Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), Amazon Simple Queue Service (Amazon SQS), Amazon Flexible Payments Service (Amazon FPS), and Amazon SimpleDB. Their system was designed from top to bottom to be a highly-scalable, cloud-aware application. Under the hood, Amazon EC2 instances pull e-mail data (as scheduled) from a customer mail server, Amazon EC2 compresses and encrypts the data and stores it on Amazon S3, the Amazon Simple Queue Service runs internal job control and queuing, and Amazon SimpleDB stores document metadata. The automation, deployment, and self-healing aspects were all designed and built in-house at Sonian. On the front end, customers access their archive data via a secure web portal (a Ruby on Rails application) that is hosted on Amazon EC2.

“Our business model is based on cloud computing economics,” says Sonian’s President George Nichols. “The granular pricing for storage and compute via AWS allow us to build out the service as customer data volumes increase. Currently we track lower TCO, ease of use, and data center reliability as major advantages.”

With an aggressive go-to-market strategy, Sonian is not afraid of going after large customers. “As we on-board new customers, the elastic scale will be a real advantage," Nichols says. "We will not be constrained by physical CPUs to the limit the number of customers that can sign up.”

“AWS provides price, service reliability, and scalability. In addition, the Amazon infrastructure ‘sells’ very well with mid-market IT. We tell our customers their data is hosted in the same environment that supports the world largest e-commerce business. They can’t match the reliability or performance with the old do-it-yourself approach to IT systems management," he adds.

“AWS made our business possible," he concludes. "The combination of AWS modules for storage, compute and work flow, which we like to think of as ‘natural resources,’ enabled us to design, develop, and deliver an enterprise class hosted service that will be the market leader in hosted archiving. AWS allows us to offer our service at a very affordable cost structure to our customers. AWS is a net-positive to our service offering.”

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