BOSTON MEDICAL GROUP (BMG)

Boston Medical Group (BMG) ) is the world leader in the treatment of male sexual dysfunctions. The project described in this case study focuses only on the division of Spain and Latin America and its consolidation in AWS services.

Goals

Historically, BMG Spain and their subdivisions in Latin American countries, have maintained a server infrastructure based on datacenters OnPremise in each country headquarters from which a remote applications service was provided to access the different business tools from different sites located throughout the assigned territory.
In early 2013, BMG took the decision to migrate its remote applications service from its subdivision in Spain to Amazon Web Services with multiple goals in mind:

  • Get rid of an IT department for maintaining the server infrastructure and focus its efforts on improving the business applications.
  • Improve the infrastructure’s scalability and minimize the cost impact due to the hardware purchasing.
  • Minimize operating costs.
  • Improve backup processes and disaster recovery.
  • Validate the solution with view on the consolidation with the rest of subdivisions in Latin America.

Enterprise Applications.

BMG Business applications are an internal development that enables its employees performing multiple tasks:

  • Medical appointment management.
  • Historical data administration.
  • Call center and patients monitoring (CRM).
  • Customer service.
  • Business Intelligence.

All this activity takes place on a Windows infrastructure that relies on various Microsoft technologies such as Active Directory, Remote Desktop Services, and MS SQL Server, the latter being one critical component of the system’s performance due to the high memory and storage demand. To solve this problem there has been made use of EC2 instances optimized for EBS (SAN storage) and SSD volumes, whose predictable performance and integrated monitoring tools has allowed us to reach a balance between the desired performance and infrastructure costs.

Infrastructure Consolidation.

After a trial period with all services running on AWS, we proceeded to the migration of Latin America users so they could begin using the new server infrastructure. After the successful concept tests with BMG Spain, the transition from other countries to the cloud was done almost immediately thanks to the immediate availability of new servers with just a few “mouse clicks” in the AWS console.

Monitoring and Alerts.

With the availability of CloudWatch and its easy integration with all AWS services, this service for alarms was chosen in conjunction with SNS to send notifications and configure alarms based on both, performance metrics included as standard in AWS & EBS volumes and custom metrics from each node of the infrastructure.

Reducing Operating Costs.

With respect to the use of reserved instances, BMG was able to reduce its operating costs by more than 50% compared to OnPremise distributed infrastructures in each country.
Additionally, the reaction time during peak load times allows Boston to increase its servers’ capacity and minimize response time.

Security

One of the biggest concerns when BMG decided to move their servers to the cloud was to minimize the risk of security breaches in access to the various services that make up the infrastructure business. To do this, we have made use of multiple network services and security in AWS:

  • VPC: All EC2 business instances stay inside VPC, an AWS service that enables the provision an EC2 section completely isolated from the Internet
    • Subnets: Inside the VPC different subnets were provisioned, each one intended for accommodation of certain types of services based on their nature: public or private access, Interflora E2 instances, AWS managed services, availability zone, etc…
  • Security Groups: Instead of implementing complex mechanisms of firewall and network ACLs, we opted for the utilization of Security Groups, an EC2 networking management characteristic that allows configuring network restrictions based on group membership of each instance and / or managed AWS service.
  • Backup plans and disaster recovery: To simplify the process of backup and recovery, there has made extensive use of the capabilities offered by a cloud computing service such as Amazon Web Services:
    • EC2 and EBS
      • An AMI for every instance is ready for an eventual recovery service in case of unrecoverable errors in production instances.
      • Regular snapshots of data volumes.
    • S3 and Glacier
      • Storing backups of files via scheduled tasks from EC2 instances dedicated to data storage.
      • Implementation of lifecycle for automatic backups filing in low-cost storage and the deletion of old objects.

     

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