NBIS

NBIS was moving their .Net portal application to Windows Server on AWS for greater security, performance, scalability and cost savings.

Overview

  • County or Region: United States
  • Industry: Financial Services
  • Customer Profile:
    NationsBuilders Insurance Services, Inc., "NBIS," headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, is a leading provider of risk management products and services to commercial heavy equipment operators across 50 states.

    As a full-service provider program, they deliver custom program insurance options to agents/brokers, reinsurance support to our partners, claims adjusting/claims investigation and risk management tools to all parties involved.
  • Problem:
    NBIS was looking to transition their .Net Portal application from on-premises infrastructure to the cloud.
  • Solution:
    Amazon Web Services has been selected as the cloud provider for hosting the application. The migration will provide a more stable and scalable hosting environment.

Case Study

  • Problem
    The NBIS Portal is a web application used by NBIS clients and partners to review the status of insurance claims and other business activities. The portal was developed with Microsoft tools such as ASP.NET and SQL Server. NBIS was looking to transition the Portal application from on-premises infrastructure to the cloud.
  • Solution
    Amazon Web Services has been selected as the cloud provider for hosting the application. The migration will provide a more stable and scalable hosting environment. Below is a summary of the expected benefits, and aspects of the Amazon Cloud to be used in meeting these requirements.
    • Cost - Lower total cost of ownership through AWS reserved pricing and AWS billing dashboard
    • Security - Gain enhanced network configuration through VPC and IAM.
    • Reliability - Robust disaster recovery configuration using EC2, RDS, S3 and third party replication tools
    • Scalability - Cloud elasticity using Elastic Beanstalk and RDS
    • Performance - Ability to scale up and out using monitoring and notification with CloudWatch
  • Outcome & Results
    As part of the migration, it was determined that the legacy .NET code was not engineered to properly support Elastic Beanstalk, and that NBIS's SQL database utilization required features not available in RDS. As a result, during the build out, it was decided to utilize EC2 instances for both the Windows Web Server and the a Microsoft SQL server.

    Even with these revisions, the solution proved to be significantly more reliable than the old on-premises virtual machines that had previously hosted the application. With the new SQL design (databases were replicated, rather than directly connected), security was also improved in that the Internet facing application only had read-only copies of key business databases.

    NBIS's on-prem Subversion and TFS repositories were consolidated and migrated to CodeCommit. This change provided a reliable and hosted solution for their internal developers and external contractors to share code changes, and previous the version history going forward. This brought SDLC best practices across all of their projects, that had fallen behind using the older technologies.
  • Software and Services
    • AWS EC2 - Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) provides virtual servers in the AWS cloud. The SQL Server containing replicated AIM and W5 databases is hosted in an EC2 instance. In the production environment, a SQL Server AlwaysOn Availability Group, with EC2 instances running in different regions, satisfies High-Availability and Disaster Recovery requirements, as is described within the Architectural Diagrams later in this document.
    • AWS Elastic Beanstalk - AWS Elastic Beanstalk is a Platform as a Service (PaaS) feature for hosting, deploying and scaling web applications. The web application code for the NBIS Portal was planned to be hosted in an AWS Elastic Beanstalk application. This gives auto-scale capabilities, a build-in Elastic Load Balancer service, and easy code deployment through AWS CodeCommit. In the production environment, Elastic Beanstalk instances can run in different regions, satisfy High-Availability and Disaster Recovery requirements, as is described within the Architectural Diagrams later in this document.
    • AWS Relational Database Services - AWS RDS provides cost-efficient and resizable database capacity, removing the need for time-consuming DBA tasks. The database backing the NBIS Portal was planned to be hosted in AWS RDS running Microsoft SQL Server. In the production environment, RDS instances can run in different regions, satisfy High-Availability and Disaster Recovery requirements, as is described within the Architectural Diagrams later in this document.
    • AWS S3 - Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) provides object storage with a simple web service interface, command-line interface, and the ability through third-party tools such as CloudBerry Drive to mount S3 "buckets" from on-premises servers and AWS EC2 instances. S3 storage played a role in the cloud design for the NBIS portal to facilitate the replication of AIM and W5 databases to the cloud from on-premises through regular backup/restore processes.
    • AWS CodeCommit - AWS CodeCommit is a managed source control service that hosts private Git repositories. For this solution, application code was migrated from TFS and Subversion to the AWS CodeCommit as a source control solution. This gave tight integration with DevOps tools available with AWS and is a step in the direction of automating builds, testing and deployment of code.
    • AWS CloudWatch - Amazon CloudWatch is a monitoring service for AWS cloud resources and the applications you run on AWS. In the context of NBIS and this Portal Migration solution, Amazon CloudWatch was leveraged for the following:

      - collect and track metrics
      - collect and monitor log files
      - set alarms and automation around changes in AWS resources
      - monitoring Amazon EC2 instances
      - monitoring Amazon RDS DB instances

      Overall, CloudWatch was leveraged to monitor custom metrics and log files the Portal generated, providing system-wide visibility into resource utilization, application performance, and operational health. This provided confidence in the smooth operation of the Portal solution.

      Recommendations were made that NBIS continue building upon CloudWatch to configure alerts and monitoring capabilities to help IT support staff maintain the Portal application through dashboard reflections of traffic and utilization metrics. Log4Net was recommended as a logging =framework with CloudWatch appender as a NuGet package.
  • Architectural Diagrams
    NBIS Portal Topology

    Cloud/Hybrid Network Topology
    Disaster Recovery