Insights migrated their Microsoft-based application to AWS - the core of the application was .NET on EC2 Windows VMs and RDS SQL Server along with many other managed services to simplify security, operations and reliability. Cloudsoft helped to plan and execute the migration, and continues to help with 24/7 support in AWS.
Meet the Customer
Insights is a global leader in self-awareness and people development solutions for enterprises of all sizes and across a range of industries. Insights provides face-to-face and virtual workshops and an online application called Insights Online to enable people to build customized profiles based on personality type and preference. Around six million people around the world have experienced the magic of Insights and used its flagship solution, Insights Discovery, to help them increase self-awareness and others-awareness, form deeper and more positive relationships, and become more effective at their jobs.
Insights’ most valuable application, Insights Online, is a Windows-based application that had been running in a co-location datacenter for many years. There was a strong desire to migrate Insights Online to the Cloud for many reasons:
Improve pace of innovation by taking advantage of cloud services, and remove the need for undifferentiated heavy lifting.
Handle rapid growth of the user base.
Stop estimating future capacity requirements - procuring new resources within the co-location datacenter was an expensive and time consuming process.
Insights growth over recent years meant there was a need for increased capacity. This meant either yet more capex and long-term commitment in the co-location datacenter, or seizing the opportunity to migrate to cloud. Marcus Corner, a contracted technology architect for Insights, described limitations of the on-premises datacenter, which hosted the Microsoft SQL Server-based application: “Remaining in a traditional data center wasn’t sufficiently scalable or sustainable, given the rapid and consistent growth of the global business."
Cloudsoft worked with Insights to choose a cloud provider, to plan and execute the migration to AWS, and subsequently to help support and improve the application in AWS. This included assessment and discovery of the application and its dependencies, the creation of an AWS landing zone, deployment to AWS, assistance with pentesting and remediations, the go-live cutover itself, and ongoing 24/7 support.The main Insights Online application is .NET on Windows servers, with a SQL Server backend. The AWS services used for this include:
.NET on Windows EC2 Instances.
Auto-scaling groups for the EC2 instances.
Application load balancers in front of the EC2 instances, along with CloudFront and Web Application Firewall.
RDS SQL Server.
Active Directory Connector, linking back to the corporate AD (used by each EC2 instance for AD policies and logins).
Systems Manager for operations. This includes Patch Manager for OS patching, and Automations for server setup and administration.
Secrets Manager for secure credential storage, updating the .NET app to use this.
AWS CodePipeline for upgrading staging and prod environments.
Azure DevOps for continuous integration, and for deployment to the dev/test environments in AWS.
CloudWatch Metrics and Alarms (combined with SNS) for monitoring and alerting.
AWS Backup for a secure vault of RDS SQL Server backups.
AWS Transit Gateway and site-to-site VPNs for networking.
GuardDuty, CloudTrail, and access/flow logs for automated security checks.
Lambda functions for automated processes, such as backups and replication of data between environments.
CloudFormation for Configuration as Code, to allow for automated identical deployment in each of dev, staging and prod environments.
The Results and Benefits
The Insights Online migration was a success - the planning, testing and dry-runs paid off with an uneventful and smooth cutover to AWS. Since going live in AWS, the Insights team has embraced AWS as the target development environment to allow faster experimentation and development. The increased monitoring, visibility and automation afforded by AWS has helped to continually improve the service. Infrastructure costs have also reduced, taking advantage of right-sizing instances and turning off environments when not in use.