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Terminix Accelerates Deployments from Days to Minutes, Achieves 99.999% Availability on AWS

2022

With millions of customer accounts and hundreds of service centers to manage, international pest control company Terminix wanted to improve the availability of its digital infrastructure and modernize its security stack to be more resilient, scalable, and efficient in the cloud. The company had developed firewall technology based on its previous on-premises architecture. However, it needed a new solution that would increase throughput and be more resilient, reducing downtime and removing bottlenecks while simplifying the architecture. The company also wanted to speed up its time to delivery without reducing overall visibility.

Terminix turned to Amazon Web Services (AWS) to build a new, more modern cloud solution from scratch. Using Gateway Load Balancer—which makes it easy to deploy, scale, and manage third-party virtual appliances—and other AWS services, the company drastically reduced downtime, improved scalability and bandwidth, and strengthened its security posture.

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Onboarding a new component used to take days. Now we can do it in minutes on AWS. It's like magic."

Spencer Bryant
IT Architect, Terminix

Simplifying Architecture by Rebuilding on AWS

Since 1927, Terminix has provided termite and pest control services to homes and businesses across the United States and internationally. With 864 service centers worldwide, it serves over 50,000 customers every day and manages thousands of employees. Terminix has used AWS as part of its digital infrastructure since 2015. Its existing management system used two separate firewalls, each of which connected independently to all other virtual private clouds (VPCs). However, only one firewall could be active at any time and the company couldn’t load balance traffic between them. As a result, it could only push limited bandwidth through each VPN connection. Additionally, Terminix needed to increase reliability. The complexity of its existing setup prevented it from properly configuring a failover tunnel to support each VPN connection, resulting in downtime whenever the main tunnel suffered an outage or underwent maintenance.
 
To improve performance and availability, the company decided to rebuild its solution from scratch using Gateway Load Balancer and AWS Transit Gateway, which connects VPCs and on-premises networks through a central hub. Terminix chose AWS because its combination of fully managed services and flexible solutions supports the company’s most complex use cases. “We get a lot more flexibility on AWS,” says Spencer multi-, IT architect at Terminix. “AWS supports many use cases where we use some services out of the box and tweak other components to fit our needs.” By using AWS, Terminix gains low-level building blocks that it can use to design an architecture that fits its needs and runs efficiently.
 
The company began its rebuild on AWS in 2019 by designing a proof of concept and setting up its use of AWS Transit Gateway. It quickly found that its highly segmented architecture wasn’t cost efficient. It cost more to attach a separate VPC to every application than it did to support the traffic going through those VPCs. The company expanded its use of AWS to design a simpler model that would group related applications together in a family, reducing its overall costs. “We’ve upgraded our architecture to align with modern best practices on AWS,” says Bryant. “We’ve gone from having four accounts on AWS to 50 accounts in our organization.” Throughout its migration, the company received detailed support from AWS.

Strengthening Security and Speeding Up Deployments Using Gateway Load Balancer

During the migration of existing systems to the new architecture, Terminix is building solutions using the new model on AWS. “There were a couple of scalability and failover issues in the old design,” says Bryant. “Using Gateway Load Balancer solved these challenges.” Using this service, the company was able to increase overall throughput by 300 percent. And by using AWS Transit Gateway alongside it, Terminix has successfully configured failover and achieved 99.999 percent availability. Now, the company is no longer susceptible to VPN failures; it has increased its resiliency to failures by 100 percent. “There’s much more stability in our environment on AWS,” says Bryant. “Using Gateway Load Balancer, there’s virtually zero chance of an outage.” Although Terminix still experiences rare outages due to human error, it’s now simpler and faster to recover.

Automatic connection monitoring is another benefit of Gateway Load Balancer. Previously, it took 30–60 seconds to detect a failure and implement failover, during which time a portion of traffic was impacted. Now, firewalls run in load balanced pools where Gateway Load Balancer can automatically detect failures and route traffic around them in 10 seconds—reducing time to recovery by up to 83 percent. The combination of greater segmentation, better scalability, and higher availability has increased productivity and optimized costs. Terminix also uses AWS CloudFormation, which lets users model, provision, and manage AWS and third-party resources by treating infrastructure as code, to build more quickly. “Onboarding a new component used to take days,” says Bryant. “Now we can do it in minutes on AWS. It’s like magic.” With separate production and nonproduction environments, developers no longer have to wait days for approval before testing changes in lower environments. Now, the wait time for approval is just minutes. “Our developers love having a dedicated test environment with full supporting infrastructure,” says Bryant. “They can iterate more quickly.” As a result, the company can achieve a faster time to market.

Terminix is using Gateway Load Balancer to transition from a multitiered architecture into an application enclave architecture. Because each application family is self-contained on this simpler model, the company’s security posture is stronger. The company can potentially limit the extent of a security event to a single application, isolating an incident while the rest of its infrastructure remains available. On AWS, Terminix has achieved higher performance while reducing costs and simplifying its workload in the cloud. 

Planning for More Major Migrations to the Cloud

Terminix continues to migrate the remaining parts of its legacy stack to its new model. After the success of its transition to Gateway Load Balancer and AWS Transit Gateway, the company is also planning a considerable migration of data from on-premises storage to a cloud data lake. “We’ve built out our cloud architecture and proven its benefits,” says Bryant. “We can run our business more efficiently and handle orders-of-magnitude more throughput on our new model on AWS.”


About Terminix

Since 1927, Terminix has provided residential, commercial, and industrial pest control services across the United States and in 11 countries internationally. The company serves over 50,000 customers every day through 864 service centers worldwide.

Benefits of AWS

• Achieved 99.999% availability
• Increased resiliency to failures by 100%
• Increased throughput by 300%
• Reduced time to recovery by up to 83%
• Accelerated deployments by reducing approval wait times from days to minutes
• Strengthened the security posture of its VPCs
• Built test environments with full supporting infrastructure
• Achieved cost optimization

AWS Services Used

Gateway Load Balancer

Gateway Load Balancer helps you easily deploy, scale, and manage your third-party virtual appliances.

Learn more »

AWS Transit Gateway

AWS Transit Gateway allows you to easily connect Amazon VPCs, AWS accounts, and on-premises networks to a single gateway.

Learn more »

AWS Cloud​Formation

AWS CloudFormation provides a common language for you to describe and provision all the infrastructure resources in your cloud environment.

Learn more »


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