NEWS FLASH: We’re an AWS Select Consulting Partner (here’s why you should care)

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As of March 2021, P+S are now an official Amazon Web Services (AWS) Select Consulting Partner. Hurray! Exciting news for us – but why should anyone else care?

Don’t worry. This isn’t your typical self-congratulatory post.  

What this means is we can help clients to grow and scale their businesses on AWS. So you could get a cost saving, industry-leading and super secure application.  

To achieve our AWS Select Tier status, we had to demonstrate a whole lot of team knowledge and prove the strength of our experience too. So, over the past 4 months, we’ve delivered High Availability architecture for clients like Osborne Clarke and the UK Hydrographic Office.

So, we’ve written this blog to tell you just why you should take note about what AWS has to offer, and answer a few of the questions you might have.

Why is AWS your chosen cloud service provider?

Because they’re the industry’s leading cloud provider.  

AWS offers a huge list of services and a robust global infrastructure that we knew could serve our clients around the world. If it’s good enough for 90% of the world’s Fortune 100 companies and the majority of Fortune 500 companies, it’s good enough for us.  

And now our partnership status is testament to our experience and knowledge when it comes to designing and implementing cloud architecture.  

As an application implementation, development and infrastructure partner, we can achieve a very close link between your applications’ functionality and its environment, ensuring you always get the very best performance.

What can you do for me?

We can save you time and money.

It’s likely you already know on-premise infrastructure can be hugely expensive. Or you might be using cloud computing, but finding it’s still costing you a fortune. With the right cloud architecture in place, not only can you gain a huge price advantage, you could also save countless hours of time, too.

Commissioning just one new server can take several days and thousands of pounds of hardware investment. But in the cloud, the same process takes just a few seconds. Plus, you can spin servers up and remove them again easily, and without having to worry about hardware.

Our use cases are normally centred around creating web architecture, where this flexibility is useful for creating cost effective solutions. A traditional web architecture might consist of several web servers behind a load balancer, where traffic is distributed across the instances according to some rules.  

Figure 1: Application Load Balancer routing traffic to 3 web servers.

The problem with this traditional set up is that during lulls in user activity, e.g., overnight or over the weekend, you end up with more servers than you need – you’re just haemorrhaging money.  

Conversely, during traffic spikes, you might not have enough capacity to meet demand, putting your application’s performance at risk.  

Auto-scaling prevents this by automatically adding more servers to the group if demand requires it. When the demand drops, these servers are removed.

Figure 2: The difference between configurations as Autoscaling increases the number of servers to meet demand.
Why is High Availability architecture so important?

Because in the words of Werner Vogels, Everything fails, all the time”.

All technological solutions – no matter how perfect we might like them to be – will have points of failure and downtime. In fact, even cloud solutions within AWS are subject to the same risks.  

By creating an infrastructure that anticipates this failure, we can overcome the risks and mitigate the impact before a failure ever happens.  

For example, the AWS network consists of several geographical regions based around the world. These regions are further divided into Availability Zones. An Availability Zone is made up of separate physical data centres that are connected within a region.  

You can then split your services across Availability Zones, so should one develop a problem, you’ll hardly notice – your application will still be up and running.  

At P+S we follow the AWS principles for High Availability across all of our clients’ architecture to ensure there are no single points of failure, and recovery is automatic wherever possible.  

Figure 3: Load Balancing across multiple servers in different Availability Zones.
Is AWS’ Cloud Service secure?

Yes. In fact, at AWS, they have a saying: Security is Priority Zero.  

This is for good reason, given the critical nature of data security and harsh penalties for businesses who breach regulations.  

There are multiple features in AWS’ tools and services ensuring every design meets stringent compliance requirements, with our own architecture including many of these features as standard.  

For example, we deploy AWS CloudFront as a CDN as standard in front of all our sites, together with AWS Web Application Firewall and AWS Shield to protect your site against web vulnerabilities and attack vectors, including the OWASP Top 10 – globally recognised by developers as the top 10 risks to application security – and Distributed Denial-of-Service attacks (DDoS), which you may have seen recently taking a number of the Belgium government’s websites offline. It also ensures you’re compliant with Data Protection standards such as ISO 27001.

AWS also provides the ability to create entire virtual networks and subnets within the cloud, with complete control over data and user access and flow. This gives you the ability to lock down access to subnets, instances, and services to only authorised sources. For example, you can block physical access to web application servers, ensuring access can only be gained from the load balancer or approved IPs.

So I don’t need servers?

No. One of our favourite methodologies in cloud infrastructure is ‘serverless architecture’.  

Serverless architecture means the servers or machine resources used to run a particular task are handled by the cloud provider. So you don’t have to worry about provisioning a server or maintaining it. This saves a lot of time and money; we can simply spin up a database or run code.  

This methodology is extremely useful when working on prototypes, for example, allowing us to quicker develop and verify our ideas. It’s also useful for running Continuous Integration workloads to speed up deployments (useful for Autoscaling groups) and helping you manage repetitive tasks or queues.  

For example, we successfully offloaded some database queue processing from the application into AWS Lambda. This meant we could configure a smaller database instance than would otherwise have been necessary.  

Our summary

At P+S, we believe every business should be able to offer an excellent digital service to their customers. That means creating flexible digital architecture that grows as you – and your customers – need it to. It’s faster, more adaptable, and because it’s flexible, you won’t waste money on servers you don’t need.    

Your application shouldn’t go offline unexpectedly. And we don’t believe you should have to pay more for a secure website, so we’ll ensure both your data and your customers’ info is protected at all times.

And our newly earned AWS Select Consulting Partner badge proves that commitment.  

Want to find out more? Talk to marketing@proctors.co.uk for a no-obligation chat.