Articles & Blog

Uptime and AWS Migration

October 9, 2016

For background check companies like many other technology related businesses, uptime is everything. At deverus we have over 35,000 businesses including many Fortune and 100 and 500 companies using our services everyday and it’s critical that we keep to the lights on to ensure that all background checks are processed without a hitch.

Before Amazon Web Service we had invested over $700,000 in dual collocation facilities, on in Austin, Texas and the other in Dallas, using the latest server technology. Our implementation took months and after we finished, we really thought when it came to uptime and security we were bullet proof.

But several months into it we were still experiencing outages and a few times our fail-safe failover system was failing to failover! So all the money we invested in mirroring our technology in different locations did not pan out. And even when it was successful, we were still having load balancing issues as well problems spinning the second location without data loss.

Then, back in February, a few months after we were up and going, we got hit with one of the most severe DDOS attacks that had been experienced in the US. Our system and intermittent outages for days and our customers were devastated.

In July. we finally made our move to AWS. It was not painless. It took us more than 6 months and probably another $700,000 in resource expenditure to prepare our legacy system for the AWS platform. While moving on there were many challenges with integrations, customizations, and overall performance. But once we moved on, we normalized everything and started seeing immediate improvements in performance and stability.

We’ve now been on AWS for over 5 months and we’ve had 100% uptime!! In addition, we had counted more than 380 interruptions in services throughout all our customers and to-date, we’ve had none. In addition, we’ve increased our total system performance 4X prior to the move.

The only downside is costs. Our costs have risen tremendously to almost 10X what we were paying on a colo. That said, we were really struggling with very frustrated customers given our performance before AWS. So every month when I get the AWS bill I cringe for a moment, then I think about the 100% uptime which has not only made our customers very happy, but it’s also allowed us to divert precious resources to focu on developing instead of maintaining infrastructure. And after having gone through the perils of downtime and slow system performance, I say the cost of 100% uptime is priceless.

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