As a cutting edge technology startup in the real estate investment space, Entera engaged Commerce Architects to perform a review of their AWS account setups and provide best practices recommendations. After a brief assessment period, a series of recommendations were provided within focus areas that Entera had indicated were pain points with the current solution. We went on to make functional changes in their AWS implementation to resolve tactical needs that were impacting their environment.

After performing our environment assessment, we made the following recommendations: restructure VPCs (Virtual Private Clouds) to allow for better resiliency in resources, transform custom applications to use cloud native technologies such as Lambdas and Elastic Beanstalk, implement High Availability and Read Replicas for RDS (Relational Database Service) data stores, and review of a number of other cloud native technologies that could allow for more agility in the evolution of the Entera's technology.

One of the first areas of work that we did for Entera was reviewing the RDS implementation that was being used. Their workload had some very bursty IOPS load profiles which was causing I/O starvation and latency issues that were impacting customers during some periods of the day. We proposed a revised RDS infrastructure that included adding high availability to the RDS implementation, Read Replicas, and increased storage capacity to ensure that the available IOPS and burst buffers would not be fully consumed. These changes, combined with application changes by internal teams to make use of the Read Replicas, solved the database latency issues, established strong monitoring patterns (via process and CloudWatch dashboards), and established headroom for additional application changes. In addition to helping with database performance and latency, the introduction of read replicas proved to be an excellent, off-line location for reporting queries and one-off database research without the potential to impact the transactional production workloads. The following architecture diagram shows the final RDS implementation for an example data store in use by the application.

FIGURE 1: Improved RDS Structure

Another area of work with Entera was a review of the overall structure and VPC configuration of their AWS environments. Some of the initial design decisions had been made without foresight into the impact that the VPC setup would have on future technology growth. Our team provided a revised VPC and subnet segmentation architecture based around AWS best practices and geared toward a traditional segmentation of public facing services, database subnets, and backend private services. We recommended implementation of a standard bastion (jump box) host access model to ensure that private subnets were controlled via a single entry point that could be very strongly isolated and controlled. This revised VPC model also provided the ability to take advantage of additional AWS services such as Data Pipeline and Glue, which were challenging to implement in the existing VPC architecture. The following diagrams shows the VPC architecture that was in place as well as the proposed, new VPC structure.

FIGURE 2: Original VPC Structure

FIGURE 3: Revised VPC Structure

Overall, by leveraging our Environment and Lifecycle Assessment and Cloud Transformation services, we were able to provide Entera with strong insights for growth of their AWS environments, to meaningfully address short term goals such as database performance, and to provide a roadmap for future evolution of their cloud infrastructure and solutions. It was a pleasure working with a fast-moving technology-focused company and helping them rapidly move forward on their technology needs and goals.

Services Used: Environment and Lifecycle Assessment, Cloud Transformation

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