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To accelerate application code deployments and lower IT infrastructure costs, CareHubs CTO Corey Shaffer knew cloud computing provided the answer. Shaffer turned to AWS as the ideal environment for the CareHubs infrastructure. He then searched the AWS website for potential partners that could advise and help with infrastructure migration and support. Shaffer found Mission who designed CareHubs’ AWS cloud architecture and then built the production and development environments.

“By being able to essentially forget about the IT infrastructure, we can deliver more value to our clients. We focus on our applications and our client interactions while Mission makes sure the AWS environment provides all the compute resources we need. Together, we are a great example of a true partnership.”

Corey Shaffer
CTO

Highlights

  • Facilitated CI/CD by utilizing sandbox environment to complement development environment.
  • Streamlined migration of production data and final cut-over from previous co-location provider.
  • Secured virtual private network connections to a virtual private cloud.
  • Integrated open source development tool to automate software development.
  • Scaled compute resources automatically when traffic surges occur.
  • Maintains server performance to prevent clients from dropping offline.

The Challenge

To accelerate application code deployments and lower IT infrastructure costs, CareHubs CTO Corey Shaffer knew cloud computing provided the answer. Previously, CareHubs relied on a co-location data center host provider.

“The faster we move software updates into production, the sooner our clients can leverage new or improved features that drive conversations across the communication hubs used by our healthcare provider clients,” Shaffer says. “We primarily wanted to automate the spinning up of new development environments as well as the deployment of functional enhancements and new client portals.”

Shaffer also realized that a cloud environment would be less hardware-dependent and more highly-available. By moving to the cloud, CareHubs would not need to depend on co-location host personnel to manually add new compute resources. Shaffer and his team could just use automated scripts on their own to spin up servers, memory and storage.

“We envisioned an environment that could also auto-scale based on resource needs as clients access their hub portals and as our programmers develop new code,” Shaffer says. “By taking manual configuration out of the process, the new servers could come online more rapidly.”

CareHubs also realized it would likely need the resources of a partner with expertise in cloud environments. “Our focus is on developing and supporting our applications that provide the services we deliver to our clients,” Shaffer emphasizes. “By collaborating with a cloud partner, we knew we could remove the burden of designing and implementing the cloud infrastructure as well as on-going management and monitoring.”

The Solution

Shaffer had already started using a cloud service offered by Amazon Web Services (AWS)—CloudFront.

Given the success of the content delivery network solution, Shaffer turned to AWS again as the ideal environment for the CareHubs infrastructure. He then searched the AWS website for potential partners that could advise and help with infrastructure migration and support.

“Mission’s company and cloud services profile on the AWS website caught our attention,” Shaffer says. “This turned into a big win for us—the value they offer is very clear.”

During the initial meeting between CareHubs and Mission, Shaffer appreciated the professionalism of the Mission team. As the two companies went through a discovery phase to determine what CareHubs needed from the cloud, Shaffer also realized how closely Mission’s processes match the CareHubs culture.

“Mission collaborates with clients the same way we do—from discovery to onboarding and sprint development,” says Shaffer. “The way they handle sales, solution design and implementation planning aligns to the way we do things.”

Shaffer and his team instantly felt comfortable with the entire Mission team. “It’s a strong value-add when partners conduct business the same way as we do with our clients,” Shaffer adds. “Their processes feel familiar, and that gives us more confidence in the cloud services they deploy.”

The Implementation

Mission designed the AWS cloud architecture for CareHubs and then built the production and development environments. The CareHubs development team also has access to a sandbox environment, which facilitates continuous integration and deployment (CI/CD) processes.

As part of the environment build, Mission established secure access through virtual private network connections into an AWS Virtual Private Cloud in order to facilitate the secure migration of data into AWS.

To streamline application development and to serve as the basis of the new environment, Mission built automation to generate custom Amazon Machine Images (AMI) and then integrated the system with Jenkins, an open source tool that automates the software deployment processes. Both the production and development environments utilize AWS Auto Scaling to monitor CareHubs applications and automatically adjust capacity to maintain predictable performance.

After building the two environments, Mission migrated production data and handled the final cut-over from the previous co-location provider’s data center. Due to the amount of data, the migration of one of the databases took 16 hours.

“The Mission team maintained a strong positive attitude throughout that process and was with us every step of the way. Even though we went well into the next morning, Mission continued providing migration support. That’s a great example of how they are willing to do whatever it takes to complete their assigned tasks.”

Corey Shaffer
CTO

One of the key AWS infrastructure aspects Mission delivered was support for the single sign-on (SSO) function CareHubs has built into its hub application for clients that use employee logins. SSO integrates with identity services such as Microsoft Active Directory and other federated identity management solutions.

To facilitate communications during design and implementation, and continuing onward as Mission manages and monitors the CareHubs AWS environment, Mission utilizes Slack instant messaging. “Mission is the first partner I've ever worked with that provides a shared Slack channel for team messaging,” Shaffer reveals. “That kind of collaborative nature when working with an IT partner is unique—it feels like Mission is part of our company.

The Results

  • Encrypted data at rest and in transit to protect client data.
  • Provides on-going support and managed DevOps to monitor and optimize AWS environment.
  • Provided IT environment that is not susceptible to traffic surges and denial-of-service attacks.
  • Enabled developers to quickly spin up servers and gain direct access to update packages and libraries.
  • Reduced software update deployments from 15 minutes to 5 seconds.

“Our IT environment performs exceptionally well and is not susceptible to traffic surges,” Shaffer says. “I sleep much better at night!”

Shaffer particularly appreciates how quickly the CareHubs team can spin up new servers for development and how fast Mission resolves performance issues. “Our new environment also auto-scales whenever we experience traffic surges,” Shaffer adds. “So we don’t have to worry about traffic surges negatively impacting our platform.

CareHubs has found the overall performance of the environment to be significantly improved, and the internal developer team can update packages and libraries to new versions, which they now have direct access to. “This enables us to write better application code and take advantage of AWS features that boost the performance of our sites,” Shaffer says. “Automatic deployment happens with the press of a button in just a few seconds rather than the 15 minutes it used to take.”

Mission also ensured the CareHubs AWS infrastructure is protected against denial-of-service attacks, which is key since CareHubs works with many of the best-known healthcare organizations in the world. Providers like these are constant targets for cybercriminals, so the security measures Mission applies to the CareHubs environment—such as end-to-end encryption—are critical in ensuring that data is protected.

Reduced IT costs are another benefit. “In the cloud, we can utilize hardware more efficiently, activating servers as we need them and shutting them down when we don’t,” Shaffer says. “This means we don’t have to deploy new hardware as often. Mission also moved us over to Amazon Simple Email Service, which further reduced our IT costs.”

AWS Services Used in the CareHubs Cloud Environment
  • Virtual Private Cloud (VPC)
  • Elastic Cloud Compute (EC2)
  • Amazon Machine Images (AMI)
  • Simple Email Service (SES)
  • Relational Database Service (RDS)
  • ElastiCache
  • Load Balancer
  • Auto Scaling
  • Elastic File Systems (EFS)
  • Simple Storage Service (S3)
  • Amazon CloudWatch
  • Amazon CloudFront
Third-Party Integrations
  • Nginx web servers
  • PHP for web development
  • Git for SSH key access
  • Jenkins for automated software development
  • WordPress content management
About CareHubs

For more than 15 years, CareHubs has built innovative social software that brings people together to connect, collaborate and engage reliably and effectively. The company developed the first unified engagement platform specifically for healthcare communicators, which the world’s leading healthcare organizations use to facilitate communication among patient support groups, care coordination teams, and professional education organizations.

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