Expands Research & Analysis Compute Capacity
Founded by world-leading biomolecular analysis experts, Ultivue’s proprietary InSituPlex technology enables unsurpassed biomarker detection and tissue analysis. As Ultivue experienced rapid growth, the on-premises Information Technology (IT) infrastructure began to exceed its capacity. End users occasionally experienced slow application response times, and storage needed to scale more quickly. Ultivue turned to Mission, which moved Ultivue’s on-premises IT infrastructure to Amazon Web Services (AWS) in the cloud with multi-availability zones and automatic failover to a backup environment. Other key aspects include a common authentication source for on-premises and cloud end users; load balancing so clients can access research; and additional nodes that spin up automatically when workload activity spikes. By moving to AWS, Ultivue’s application performs consistently, even as the number of users has tripled. Lastly the move to AWS, eliminated large upfront CapEx for building on-premises data centers.
“Mission was highly recommended by AWS and presented a very detailed project plan on how the migration would unfold. They are also very knowledgeable about Microsoft Windows Active Directory. This was important because we needed to integrate our AWS environment with our on-premises environment that we continue to rely on for historical research.”
Principal Software Engineer
- Moved databases on internal server to MySQL on AWS RDS (Relational Database Service)—with multi-availability zones (AWS Multi-AZ) and automatic failover to a backup environment in case of disaster.
- Created two server environments—one for client analysis projects and one for internal research—so access to the data can be controlled separately based on user roles and authorization.
- Set up domain controllers as an extension of on-premises Active Directory so servers have common end-user authentication source.
- Deployed public-facing load balancer so clients can log in through the web to access research—without connecting directly to the server infrastructure.
- Configured additional nodes to spin up automatically when multiple analysis jobs are submitted to ensure high-level performance—and then automatically shut down to save on cloud costs.
As Ultivue experienced rapid growth, the company’s on-premises IT infrastructure began to exceed its capacity. Scientists conducting research on digital pathology images occasionally experienced slow application response times, and storage resources needed the ability to scale more quickly as new client accounts were opened.
At the same time, the company was about to launch a new service to its clientele of pharma and medical cancer centers, building a lab to offer its InSituPlex® technology to analyze tissue samples. The storage infrastructure to accommodate the files and the analysis of the tissue images was projected to exceed one petabyte per year, and the on-premises storage system at that time was 80 terabytes.
“To consistently provide fast application speeds to our scientists, lab analysts and clients, we not only needed to expand our compute resources, but also create scalable storage capacity so we could continue to increase our resources as our business grows,” says Doug Wood, the Principal Software Engineer for Ultivue.
In addition to increasing compute capacity, Ultivue wanted to improve system redundancy in order to streamline automatic failover to backup the IT infrastructure in the event of a data center disaster. Another key attribute was the ability to move data to archive storage so that scientists could easily conduct historical research and analysis.
Doug Wood and the senior management team at Ultivue realized that moving the company’s IT infrastructure to a greenfield cloud environment was the answer to their challenge. Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform were all considered. Ultivue chose AWS based in part on a referral from the company’s primary investor, which works with other firms that have used the AWS cloud platform.
Another key factor is that the vendor that provides the software Ultivue uses for image analysis was already using AWS. “The vendor already had an architecture we could emulate for running the software smoothly in the cloud,” Wood points out.
“A key value-add that Mission offers is their ability to not only work well with us, but also our other IT partners, there’s a lot to coordinate among the various components that come into play when moving to the cloud, and Mission takes a proactive approach to make sure all systems and technologies are in sync with the AWS environment.”
Principal Software Engineer
Ultivue joined the AWS Activate Program to streamline the cloud migration. As part of this program, AWS recommended working with an authorized AWS solution provider and suggested four partners for Ultivue to consider. “We created a detailed requirements document and interviewed the potential partners to hear their recommendations,” Wood says. “Mission stood out as the AWS experts to select for this effort.”
Mission demonstrated a clear understanding of the solution that Ultivue provides to clients and the IT infrastructure that’s required to run the business. Ultivue also values that Mission is close to the company’s offices.
Ultivue and Mission collaborated to design the precise AWS cloud architecture that would meet Ultivue’s business requirements. Mission also worked closely with Ultivue’s other key IT partners. These included the image analysis software vendor, to incorporate the requirements for operating in the cloud; the managed services provider, to understand the back-office IT needs; and the broadband carrier, to consult on the installation of a fibre cable to enable high-performance cloud connectivity.
“A key value-add that Mission offers is their ability to not only work well with us, but also our other IT partners,” Wood emphasizes. “There’s a lot to coordinate among the various components that come into play when moving to the cloud, and Mission takes a proactive approach to make sure all systems and technologies are in sync with the AWS environment.”
After Mission built the AWS cloud infrastructure, Wood conducted beta testing with a subset of end users that lasted one month. Ultivue then went live in AWS with all the company’s scientists conducting their research in the cloud.
“Mission has a good understanding of how to set up cloud architectures as far as the different zones and networking that make sense for the particular IT needs of a business,” Wood says. “Our environment is well-architected as confirmed by our AWS team.”
- Accelerated the timeline of greenfield migration to the cloud.
- Provided easy transition for end users to a new computing environment.
- Synchronized the cloud with on-premises environment for access to historical data.
- Created a new online channel for client interactions through secure web connections.
- Generated consistent application performance, even as number of end users tripled.
- Deployed scalable compute nodes and storage on-demand for when business needs change.
- Established reliable failover mechanism in case of disaster.
- Eliminated large upfront CapEx for building on-premises data center.
With the Ultivue greenfield AWS environment operating smoothly now for more than six months, Wood looks back on the deployment and realizes just how valuable it was to partner with Mission. “We could have done it on our own working directly with AWS, but it would have taken at least three times longer,” Wood estimates. “We also would have likely made mistakes that would have extended the go-live timeline even further—that’s one of the key reasons for working with cloud experts like the team from Mission.”
Jackie Albrecht, the Director of IT for Ultivue, joined the company after the migration to AWS, and she appreciates the value that Mission brings to the partnership. She also commented on the cost of cloud computing vs. on-premises computing: “The overall costs are comparable, but with the cloud, we are working with an OpEx cost model rather than a CapEx model, so we significantly reduced our upfront costs. The cloud model is also more sustainable as far as the ability to easily scale compute resources, and we don’t have to worry about building, maintaining and paying for the operating costs of an internal data center.”
AWS Services Used
- Amazon EC2—with Microsoft Windows and application load balancers
- Elastic Load Balancing (ELB)
- AWS Certificate Manager (ACM)
- Amazon RDS (RDS)
- Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3)
- Elastic Block Store (EBS)
- Amazon WorkSpaces
- AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM)
- Amazon VPC
- Amazon Machine Images (AMI)
- Amazon Glacier
- AWS Directory Service
- Amazon Lambda Functions
3rd Party Apps/Solutions Used
- HALO and HALO Link software products from Indica Labs, Inc.
Founded by world-leading experts in biomolecular analysis, Ultivue is a venture-backed company whose proprietary InSituPlex technology enables unsurpassed biomarker detection and analysis in tissue, with no compromise on level of multiplexing, throughput of sample staining and imaging, and with no requirement of dedicated instrumentation. Ultivue is based in Cambridge, MA.