Security, Disaster Recovery, & Cost Optimization
Backcountry.com is a premier online retailer that sells clothing and equipment to outdoor and action sports enthusiasts. Founded in 1996, Backcountry.com grew at an astonishing rate and today holds the prestigious spot of number 11 in the Internet Retailer top 500 list. Aside from their flagship site, Backcountry.com, they also operate other specialty e-tailers (Competitive Cyclist, Motosport.com, Steep&Cheap, and Bergfreunde.de). Owned by TSG Consumer Partners, Backcountry’s corporate headquarters are in Park City, Utah with additional locations in Salt Lake City (UT), Christiansburg (VA), Portland (OR), Costa Rica, and Germany.
Backcountry’s interest in AWS was rekindled after Leo Mata, Manager of TechOps & InfoSec, joined Backcountry’s team in 2014. Mata brought with him important knowledge of AWS. In 2015, he recognized that renewing a lease on one of their colocation centers would be unwise for the business and was able to save Backcountry from incurring costly investments. Instead, Backcountry decided to migrate this colocation site—Motosport.com, a 65+ million-dollar revenue source for Backcountry—to AWS in a controlled and strategic way. This initial migration proved to be compelling evidence to Backcountry’s executive leadership in considering future migrations; it was completed within their 8-month goal in August of 2015 and has been running live on AWS since that time.
“Months after this initial migration to AWS, we saw a 100% reduction in hardware-related instances, but even more we received a 25% drop in operational expenses and a 100% drop in capitalized expenses,” said Mata. “On top of this, the time and effort of two full-time staffers were freed-up due to the AWS automation, as we no longer needed to have dedicated system administrators. This allowed them to work with other teams and enhance other solutions.”
Satisfied with their launch of Motosport.com to AWS, they attended AWS re:Invent 2015. There they met with their AWS Account Manager (Karen Johnson) as well as with 1Strategy (an AWS Advanced Consulting Partner). Backcountry was seeking an evaluation of their architectural workloads and wanted to determine if they were using AWS best practices to their full potential. 1Strategy was able to provide guidance on addressing potential issues including:
- Gain a directional and clear plan for further migrations while obtaining better ways to optimize AWS solutions.
- Obtain key recommendations on securing existing workloads while moving new workloads to AWS.
- Establish a secure Disaster Recovery strategy that is cost-effective.
Why Amazon Web Services
Backcountry selected AWS because of their vast services, flexibility, on-the-go-pricing, performance, and deployment speed. Backcountry’s strategic and initial migration to AWS was looked upon as a test but proved to be a victory. They valued the innovative solutions and the saving costs they have already received, while still providing an outstanding experience for their customers.
“Backcountry’s initial deployment phase of migrating to AWS was a success,” said Mata. “But we wanted to get deeper into AWS and chose to work with 1Strategy because of their expert knowledge of AWS solutions and their mature and solid understanding of leveraging the entire AWS ecosystem.”
Backcountry partnered and worked closely with 1Strategy, who assessed their AWS architecture through the AWS Migration Acceleration Program (MAP), which helps business like Backcountry who are committed in their migration journey to AWS to achieve business benefits and aid in their migration. 1Strategy’s review uncovered several challenges and provided key recommendations including:
After receiving direction from 1Strategy, Backcountry established a new authentication scheme where they were able to lock down administrative accounts, enabling Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) on root account(s) for privileged users, IAM administrators, and system administrators. This allowed Backcountry to securely control access to their existing workload while ensuring that new workloads are secure by default and comply with various regulations that are reliably shown. In addition, 1Strategy offered design review and input around KMS and encryption.
Backcountry wanted to establish a more secure and cost-effective disaster recovery (DR) solution on AWS that would be an extension of their corporate datacenter, yet be located out-of-state in different AWS regions that would not be affected by potential regional disasters. Backcountry received key recommendations from 1Strategy for backup plans by using a “pilot light” scenario that was suitable for the company’s workload. They also utilized Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), Amazon Elastic Block Store (Amazon EBS), and Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) to deploy their DR solution.
By using Amazon EBS and its snapshot feature, Backcountry can create snapshots (backups) of their Amazon EBS volume allowing them to store data in various regions without having to manage the underlying replication technology. Backcountry now uses Amazon EC2 to run their services and is able to leverage Amazon EBS and Amazon S3—a highly-scalable object-storage solution providing replication and flexibility—to meet their data protection and recovery needs.
“Using Amazon EBS allows us to create snapshots frequently of our databases, protecting our data directly as we move them across to different AWS regions. This allows for regionally isolated points of restore,” said Mata.
1Strategy measured and evaluated Backcountry’s AWS architectural performance and provided guidance on how to effectively optimize their AWS resources while looking to reduce unnecessary operational costs without sacrificing performance. 1Strategy identified the right instance type for Backcountry’s right-size infrastructure and adjusted their auto-scaling policies to allow Backcountry to be more efficient and to minimize their usage cost of Amazon EC2 instances. Also by leveraging EC2 for their infrastructure, Backcountry’s Motosport.com site runs and communicates faster for their customers, makes auto-scaling easier, and is much more cost-effective.
“Backcountry has our own in-house tech team, but we needed best practices and advice from 1Strategy to get us on the right AWS path,” said Mata. “In fact, we keep in touch with 1Strategy periodically to keep us informed on all things AWS that will benefit Backcountry and our customers.”
About the Partner
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 migrate to AWS, optimize AWS solutions including security and backup strategies, and receive custom training, visit 1Strategy.com.