AWS Case Study: Microsoft Workflow Migration
“This collaboration has helped us better leverage the power of our tools by automating their deployment in the cloud, while helping us increase by 3X our software QA processes and automating functions we had never really been able to realize prior to our partnering with 1Strategy.”
-Shon Harris, Principal Cloud Architect, AccessData
AccessData offers industry-leading solutions that put the power of forensics in your hands. For more than 30 years, AccessData has worked with more than 130,000 clients in law enforcement, government agencies, corporations, and law firms around the world to understand and focus on their unique collection-to-analysis needs. The result? Products that empower faster results, better insights, trusted answers, and more connectivity. Their proven approach to forensics gives you infinite benefits, no matter the challenge.
The legacy Quality Assurance workflow for AccessData’s nightly application builds was lengthy and required a number of manual steps. For example, a new deployment might require the QA Engineer to copy the 10+GB build from a shared drive, copy it across a VPN connection to a set of static Windows EC2 instances, manually click through all of the component installers, then manually modify configuration files to tie everything together and update the application to point to the database. Once the installation was complete, the QA Engineer would then kick off the test suite. The process could take upwards of two hours per build and the Windows instances being static meant that software had to be uninstalled to test newer builds. Moreover, the builds weren’t tested “from scratch” as components would have been installed and therefore may not accurately represent real-world customer installations.
As AccessData’s customer facing product exists on AWS and already supports Auto Scaling and other AWS native services, it made sense to update the QA process to leverage AWS managed services. Additionally, moving the QA process to AWS enabled AccessData to take advantage of automation and CICD tools, such as AWS CodePipeline.
“As the first software company to offer a digital forensics platform in a cloud environment, we know first-hand the power of AWS to efficiently deliver professional software tools in the Cloud,” said Shon Harris, principal cloud architect for AccessData. “AWS has a very robust infrastructure and product offering that we have not been able to find from any other provider, due to their mature product offerings, the support and guidance to make our products successful, and the fact that our customer base is very vocal about preferring to run their forensic and E-Discovery workloads in the AWS cloud. This is why we have put a lot of our development efforts, and product strategy into our partnership with AWS.”
According to Harris, when AccessData identified the opportunity to update its QA workflow by moving it to AWS, it was clear that the company needed to work with technology experts who had deep experience leveraging cloud technology for quality assurance and with AWS in particular.
“1Strategy came highly recommended by Amazon so we were pleased to collaborate with their team,” he said.
1Strategy began by working with the AccessData QA team to create a CloudFormation template, which could accept parameters to create Windows EC2 instances with varying specifications based on use case. The QA team’s tasks included installing prerequisites, the Quin-C™ software, then triggering a collection of automated tests. This configuration and testing process could take a QA engineer two to three hours to complete. Testing was previously done using on-premises hardware. Since AccessData supports two configurations of their product (an All-in-One and a Distributed installation), the CloudFormation template was built to support both scenarios, as well as other customizations.
The use of AWS CloudFormation—built to provision one or many Windows EC2 instances integrated with AWS Systems Manager—enabled AccessData to take advantage of the flexibility and cost savings available to them in the Cloud. The template also decreased the time a QA engineer previously dedicated to setup and configuration from as much as two hours, down to as little as 30 minutes, a 75% decrease. It is now available to the AccessData team for automated deployment as well as on-demand. For example, just 30 minutes after the CloudFormation template is triggered, a cluster of 3 Windows EC2 instances can be up and running, having installed prerequisites on each instance (such as Node.js, Git, .NET), provisioned a SQL Server database, and installed Access Data’s proprietary software. Since multiple stacks of the template can be spun up simultaneously, a QA engineer can test multiple configurations at one time and not be restricted by available machines, as they were with the previous on-premises model.
AccessData has a development cadence of pushing a nightly on-premises Jenkins build. 1Strategy supported AccessData in integrating this nightly build to AWS. Once in AWS, this build was available to integrate into a code pipeline. 1Strategy assisted AccessData in streamlining this process by building a pipeline using Amazon S3, AWS CodeBuild, and AWS CodePipeline, which was triggered by a build pushed to master. With this pipeline and CloudFormation template, the whole process is now completely automated.
As a result of the new QA workflow, AccessData has been able to save time and money, and enjoy flexibility that was unavailable to them with on-premises infrastructure. Thanks to the outputs of this engagement, AccessData can focus less on provisioning and optimizing infrastructure for QA testing, and more on what they do best: developing and delivering world-class digital forensics software.
“The 1Strategy team included a number of talented, high-quality engineers who are extremely adept at working with the most advanced cloud technology,” said Harris. “They used a forward-thinking approach to offload the on-premises computing work into a cloud environment, generating significant efficiencies for our IT team and for our customers. This collaboration has helped us better leverage the power of our tools by automating their deployment in the cloud, while helping us increase by 3X our software QA processes and automating functions we had never really been able to realize prior to our partnering with 1Strategy.”
About the 1Strategy
1Strategy is an Amazon Partner Network (APN) Premier Consulting Partner, focusing exclusively on Amazon Web Services (AWS). 1Strategy helps businesses architect, migrate, and optimize their workloads on AWS, creating scalable, cost-effective, secure, and reliable solutions. 1Strategy also helps customers get real value from their data using comprehensive machine learning models and artificial intelligence. 1Strategy holds the AWS DevOps, Migration, Data & Analytics, Well Architected, and Machine Learning Competencies, and is a partner of the AWS Public Sector Program. 1Strategy was one of the initial ten AWS Partners globally who was qualified and authorized by AWS to conduct a Well-Architected Review and is among the top Well Architected partners in the AWS eco-system. With experts having deployed AWS solutions since 2007, 1Strategy is a leader in custom training—providing customers with the knowledge, tools, and best practices to manage those solutions over time. 1Strategy is a TEKsystems Global Services company with teams in Seattle and Salt Lake City, supporting customers throughout the US and across every vertical.
For more information about how 1Strategy can assist your company with migration to AWS, building artificial intelligence and machine learning solutions, optimizing data and analytics, or receiving custom training, visit 1Strategy.com or contact us at info@1Strategy.com.