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Driven Slices $80K A Month Off Its AWS Bill With Mission-Led Cost Optimization

Executive Summary

Litigation support business Driven experienced a sudden and massive increase to its client data residing in the cloud, triggering an equally large spike in its AWS spending.  Without the depth of internal resources to immediately match the rapid expansion of data under management, Driven sought assistance to properly optimize AWS services and control that spending.  The company’s cloud infrastructure was becoming bogged down with inefficiencies and ballooning costs.  Partnering with Mission and its team of cloud analysts to lead its cost savings initiatives has reduced Driven’s monthly AWS bills by over $80,000 per month with additional reductions to come. 

“To a large degree, selecting Mission was a leap of faith. It meant turning over our massive AWS spend to a new company without really knowing how everything would look tomorrow. But it didn’t take long for me to realize that what Mission brings to the table is just a whole other level of analysis and support. To be honest, I kicked myself for not hiring Mission months earlier; I wish I’d started working with Mission even sooner.”

Brian Cunningham
CFO and Executive Vice President

The Challenge

Driven provides software as a service that enables law firm clients to easily and efficiently store and search vast troves of legal documents as necessary to assist with cases.  Those highly sensitive legal documents require unfailing data security.  Clients also demand high performance data access and uninterrupted availability.   Driven leverages AWS to meet these SLA requirements and provide the infrastructure to manage legal case projects and their sizable data sets.  In 2020, Driven experienced major growth in its cloud client base, precipitating a tremendous spike in its AWS usage (and costs).  The company’s data under management in AWS expanded by several hundred terabytes. AWS went from a moderate cost center to Driven’s largest monthly spend of any outside vendor. 

However, Driven’s internal technology team didn’t have the depth of resources with AWS expertise to effectively optimize its AWS environment for cost and usage given the vast growth of both clients and data. The company engaged in a practice very common to organizations in its position: treating AWS infrastructure as if it were an on-prem data center under constant long-term load.  As a result, Driven was overprovisioning its AWS services and paying for extra resources unnecessarily.  This led to overspending on EC2, EBS, S3, and FSx costs.  In reality, Driven’s client projects commonly experience spikes in their need for compute power that wane quickly and can go dormant for sustained periods of time.  Project needs for particular storage tiers were similarly fluid: hot data storage might be necessary for a few weeks, after which low-cost cold data storage is the optimal option. 

Driven recognized the potential to take advantage of AWS’ flexibility and efficiency, but ultimately determined that it needed an external partner with expertise in AWS best practices to really optimize its environment and bring costs under control.

Why AWS?

Driven has used AWS for more than three years and uses AWS for the majority of its cloud deployments.  The company leverages several clouds internationally, with its biggest being an AWS deployment in Australia.  From its experiences with multiple public clouds, Driven has determined that AWS is the most suitable choice for its use case. 

“Comparing clouds, AWS has a product set that’s more tailored and is usually a better fit for our needs,” said Cunningham. “It also offers better pricing for our products and workflows, and the availability and uptime are absolutely world-class.  But first and foremost, AWS offers far superior service and support compared to our experience with other cloud providers.  AWS simply pays a lot more attention to providing white-glove service and making sure our needs are taken care of."

Why Mission?

Driven’s AWS representative recommended Mission as an ideal provider for its needs, given Mission’s deep experience helping companies with similar challenges to optimize AWS usage and control spending. “Mission was the best match for us according to our AWS rep’s assessment, and after getting acclimated to Mission I'd say his assessment was spot on,” said Cunningham. 

“Pre-engagement, I immediately liked the people I was introduced to at Mission. I also liked the demos of the tools I saw, especially CloudHealth for monitoring our AWS spend.  Mission and its FinOps team of Cloud Analysts that we work with have been great, so I'm happy our AWS rep steered us in that direction.  AWS has a high level of service to begin with, but our Mission relationship is gravy on top of that.”

Brian Cunningham
CFO and Executive Vice President

Strategy and Solution 

Mission went to work prioritizing specific areas of Driven’s AWS infrastructure for optimization, first identifying low-hanging fruit that would achieve the most rapid and impactful cost reduction.  Educating Driven’s team played a large role in this cost optimization process, with Mission’s expert cloud architects ensuring that Driven learned to properly provision services, and could visualize its AWS usage and costs at each layer. 

On monthly planning calls, Mission Cloud Analysts target specific opportunities for savings, and determine a strategic plan to execute on those opportunities along with Driven.  As part of these AWS savings plans, Mission highlighted overprovisioning that was driving unnecessary EC2 costs, and introduced CloudHealth monitoring capabilities (the lack of which was a key cause of that overprovisioning).  Mission provided similar cost optimization around EBS, pulling back on storage expenses by showing Driven’s team how to more efficiently provision for only the resources needed and to use the proper type of storage for the job at hand.  To reduce S3 costs on certain projects where it was appropriate, Mission equipped Driven with the tools and analytical insights to understand data and utilize more affordable AWS Glacier cold storage as appropriate, a move that effectively cut S3 costs by 66%.  Mission also determined that Driven’s FSx deployment used backups that were more frequent than necessary, providing another opportunity for sizable cost reduction.

“In a typical client engagement with a law firm, we take on multiple cases and significant data sets – and manage both those projects and the requisite infrastructure,” said Cunningham.  “What Mission helps us do is optimize and best manage that infrastructure, so that we’re meeting client SLAs and continuing to improve our margins.”

Results and Benefits

“We’re already saving tens of thousands a month with Mission, and my goal now is to get that to six figures. We’ve seen successive months with five-figure increases in savings.  From our peak to where we are today, the amount that Mission has saved us is downright massive.”

Brian Cunningham
CFO and Executive Vice President

With Mission’s execution of AWS best practices and cost optimization, Driven has reduced its monthly AWS bill significantly, saving the company over $80,000 per month compared to its legacy approach.  And that’s just so far: Mission projects that Driven still has considerable potential for further savings. 

Driven’s CFO also tasked Mission Cloud Analysts with identifying metrics and determining accurate accountability methods so that the company could establish a bonus plan to incentivize its technology team.  “There’s so much savings opportunity still today, even after all the progress we’ve made,” said Cunningham.  “My key leaders perform highly already, but I wanted to align bonuses with going above and beyond on this major savings initiative.  Mission was great in helping to lay out the accountability and metrics to correctly tie individual bonus plans to cloud optimization and cost savings.  It’s been a very good experience thus far and well-received by our team.”

Next Steps

In addition to further cloud transformation and Mission-led cost optimization efforts, Driven plans to get AWS and Mission involved earlier in its sales cycle, so that the eDiscovery leader can showcase its data and cloud infrastructure capabilities earlier in the process of closing deals with clients.

AWS Services
  • Amazon EC2
  • Amazon EBS
  • Amazon S3
  • Amazon S3 Glacier
  • Amazon FSx
Third-Party Integrations
  • CloudHealth by VMware