Behind the Scenes: Eliminating single points of failure and simplifying operations

Enabling scalability, redundancy, and security with Amazon FSx for Windows File Server

As we evolve to meet the challenges of today’s business and performance demands, we can clearly see how file storage and maintenance have evolved tremendously over the years. We’re talking about replacing that old-fashioned file cabinet with streamlined storage systems in the cloud that can support hundreds or thousands of users at one time. As we move away from the on-premise, old fashioned ways of document management, more companies are looking for fast, flexible, and secure ways to manage their documents.

With this in mind, we wanted to share the story of a recent engagement with our customer, DocXellent, who partnered with us to build a scalable, compliant, and user-friendly cloud-based document management system. With this cloud-based system, DocXellent was hoping to grossly reduce administrative overhead, save money, and improve their customers experience.

Who is DocXellent?

DocXellent has been providing a trusted, web-based document management system with quality control management solutions to companies from start-up businesses to the Fortune 500 since 1983.
Their system is unique in that it records all historical data and complies with industry rules and regulations in regard to various types of compliance including FDA 21 Part 11 and GxP. One can think of their trademarked platform ENSUR, as document tracking and management on steroids.

What Docxellent Needed

Prior to partnering with EagleDream, DocXellent used an architecture where each client had their own dedicated server which made providing support and making updates very time consuming. Their existing system was limited in its ability to streamline updates and the DocXellent team desired to find a better solution to handle their client’s infrastructure. DocXellent had started to build out a new architecture that was multi-tenant and broke out the component pieces of their application into separate pieces.

We Began with an in-depth review of their environment

We offered to perform a Well-Architect Review on DocXellent’s new multi-tenant environment to help them prepare to launch the new architecture.

A Well-Architected Review is a great tool that any organization operating in AWS could benefit from. Performing a deep-dive into the customer’s environment, we analyze the workload for adherence to AWS best practices along 5 Pillars; Operations, Security, Reliability, Performance, and Cost. From there, we deliver a prioritized roadmap of recommendations to make improvements. You can learn more about AWS Well-Architected Reviews here.

The results of the Well-Architected Review identified a single point of failure in their new architecture around needing a Windows file server to store the documents on. The team at DocXellent had tried to stand up their own Windows file server in AWS, but it did not provide for high availability or redundancy.

Amazon FSx for Windows

The Well-Architected Review was carried out just before the AWS Re:Invent conference in late November. At that event, AWS announced the Amazon FSx for Windows File Server as a service. This is a fully managed implementation of Windows File Sharing built on Windows Server. It provides for encryption at rest by default, and mechanisms for consistent backups to S3, among other features.

EagleDream suggested that DocXellent look to implement this new service as a solution to their single point of failure and manually built and maintained file system.

Integration of the file system to autoscaling

The main challenge for DocXellent was integrating the FSx for Windows to be the backing file system for their auto-scaled Windows IIS servers. AWS Directory Service for Microsoft Active Directory is required to configure, launch, and utilize Amazon FSx. In order to successfully mount FSx file shares on Windows EC2 instances within an auto-scaling group, EagleDream worked with Docxellent to bootstrap their instances using PowerShell commands within the EC2 instance user data. These scripts automated the required process of joining Active Directory, allowing the instances to automatically mount the FSx file shares at launch. Below is a diagram depicting the setup for DocXellent with FSx for Windows:

Stability and less manual intervention

DocXellent is pleased with the benefits of this system and the stability and reliability it will bring to their new environment. They no longer need to worry about maintenance of the file system environment or patching of the underlying servers. This is allowing the team to focus on more business-critical parts of their application structure.

Is your system built for success?

Gain actionable insight into how you can improve the reliability, security, and efficiency of your environment. Schedule your complimentary Well-Architect Review with one of our cloud architects, today!


Justin Guse

Cloud Architect

Justin Guse is a Cloud Architect at EagleDream Technologies. He has over 10 years of experience in IT with a strong background in infrastructure, networking, and systems administration. As an avid learner of the latest emerging technologies in cloud computing, automation, and DevOps, Justin holds several professional certifications in AWS and Microsoft.Using his industry knowledge and skills, Justin appreciates working with his clients to design and build modern, cloud-native systems while continuously working to deliver a superior customer experience through long-term, strategic relationships.

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