deploy software faster and more easily. As a result, we can release updates
every two weeks instead of the 12 to 15 months it took previously.
Based in Manchester, New Hampshire, Newforma develops project information management (PIM) software for the architecture, engineering, construction, and operations (AECO) industry. Leading AECO companies use the Newforma PIM solution to manage email, documents, submittals, workflows, searches, and file transfers for more than 2.2 million projects worldwide.
The company’s primary product is Newforma Project Center, an on-premises, .NET-based PIM solution for the building and infrastructure industries. Project Center integrates with Microsoft Outlook and other popular email clients to provide mail and meeting management, document control, team collaboration, design review, and improved search capabilities. Because the AECO industry is highly collaborative, web-based PIM software is vital, for the web provides a common place for teams to share project information. And as Newforma expanded to reach a growing number of customers, it sought an easy and cost-effective way to scale its solution. “Scalability and availability were becoming increasingly important, but were challenging because our solution was managed behind the customer’s firewall,” says Jamie Peloquin, DevOps manager for Newforma.
Newforma also wanted a better way to configure instances and deploy new code, while maintaining a high level of security. “We store a lot of customer data in our solution, and we wanted our customers to see that we were treating their data as securely as we do our own,” says Peloquin.
Finally, the company wanted to better support its global customers as they grew their businesses. “We are a global company, and, more and more, our customers want our servers to be located near their geographic locations,” says Peloquin.
Newforma chose to extend Project Center with Newforma Cloud Services, a cloud service that integrates with Newforma Project Center and Newforma mobile applications, to address its challenges. “Our customers have gradually been moving to the cloud for scalability and ‘anywhere’ access to information,” says Peloquin. “It made sense for us to do that as well.” Newforma chose Amazon Web Services (AWS) as its cloud provider. “AWS had the right combination of industry-leading expertise and services, as well as a global footprint,” Peloquin says. Newforma looked at the geographic coverage of different cloud vendors and concluded that the regions, availability zones, and edge locations that make up AWS Global Infrastructure were the right fit.
Newforma Cloud Services runs on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances using Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) and Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) buckets for data storage.
Newforma launched Cloud Services using AWS OpsWorks Stacks, a service that lets customers manage applications and servers both on AWS and on premises, and run Chef recipes using Chef Solo. “We have been building a collection of web services to add cloud functionality to our on-premises solution,” says Peloquin. “We needed a solution that could kickstart our transition from the desktop to the cloud, quickly. Using the powerful automation and management you get with AWS OpsWorks, in combination with other AWS services like AWS CloudFormation, we have been able to begin the transition of our on-premises .NET offerings to the cloud in just a few months’ time. OpsWorks was essential in helping us meet our goals.”
Newforma’s developers use AWS OpsWorks Stacks, AWS CloudFormation, and the AWS SDK to manage Amazon EC2 Windows and Linux instances, which run web services written using .NET, Python, Node.js, and PHP. The company also uses AWS services including Amazon DynamoDB, AWS Lambda, and Amazon Elasticsearch Service. Newforma uses AWS OpsWorks Stacks to manage segments of its other cloud offerings and uses AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) to securely manage permissions across its teams and AWS resources. Newforma relies on AWS OpsWorks to secure and manage developer access into Amazon EC2 instances, and for direct monitoring and troubleshooting.
Newforma can scale its Cloud Services PIM offering by taking advantage of the AWS Cloud. “AWS meets our scalability requirements and makes it easy for us to deliver our project information management solution to more and more users,” says Peloquin. “In addition, AWS provides the infrastructure and tools that have helped us build a necessary bridge between our on-premises solution and the cloud. Transitioning to AWS and the cloud has helped us deliver data to our customers—whether they are in their office or out in the field.”
The company’s developers are also able to bring software releases to market more quickly. “By using AWS OpsWorks Stacks, our developers can deploy software faster and more easily. As a result, we can release software updates every two weeks instead of the 12 to 15 months it took previously,” says Peloquin. “Our customers get new updates faster, and they are all on the same version at the same time.” AWS OpsWorks makes deploying code and managing access over encrypted connections much easier, especially across multiple instances. “We wanted to find a better way of configuring and securing EC2 Windows and Linux instances, while keeping it easy to deploy our code; OpsWorks was vital in making that happen,” Peloquin says.
In addition, Newforma developers can deploy the company’s entire suite of web services in minutes, rather than hours or days. “AWS OpsWorks is quickly becoming the lifeblood of our cloud infrastructure. Our teams can self-deploy software, whether it is written in C#, PHP, or Python, using a combination of AWS OpsWorks, AWS CloudFormation, and Chef,” says Peloquin. “Overall, AWS really enables our DevOps model. It removed a lot of the manual effort we used to have around management, configuration and deployment.”
Newforma has also enhanced its security capabilities using AWS. “We alleviated a lot of our security concerns by embracing the shared security model and leveraging Amazon’s existing security architecture and tools,” says Peloquin. “We have streamlined our security management by using IAM and AWS OpsWorks SSH/RDP management capabilities.”
The organization also ensures high availability for its Cloud Services product by using AWS. “The global reach and durability of AWS, including multiple Availability Zones and edge locations, give us the high availability our customers demand,” says Peloquin. “And as we expand our solution to more regions across the globe, we know we can rely on AWS for reliability, scalability, durability, and security. AWS is going to help us move our business ahead in the years to come.”