High-Stakes Software Company Optimizes its AWS Cloud Environment with help from Lightstream

Lightstream’s Cloud Managed Services empowers the company with enhanced visibility, security, configuration and a 20% savings in overall cloud spend

Business Challenge

A leading developer of governance, risk management, and compliance software solutions was housing most of its infrastructure within Amazon Web Services (AWS). Migrating to the cloud made it easy for the company to procure and spin-up resources quickly in real time, increasing their agility and innovation and giving them an edge over the competition. Security was of utmost importance, with high-profile customers frequently exchanging extremely confidential documents and assets. The cloud gave the company a secure global portal and facilitated communication and collaboration between customers and IP.

While the focus on advanced technology and security had always been a top priority, service procurement and spending visibility had become increasingly challenging as the company’s cloud usage expanded along with its global footprint. Employees across all areas of the company utilized AWS cloud services for their daily operations, resulting in a high monthly expenditure that was exceeded only by payroll. The organization was using dozens of AWS services and constantly flexing up and down to meet ever-changing demands.

Getting an accurate picture of their cloud spend had become very difficult as their cloud infrastructure had become more complex. Despite a broad client base and significant investment into multiple cloud services across AWS, the company received a single monthly invoice offering no insight into what cloud resources were being used and who was using them. This inability to delineate costs and analyze spending made for a hugely complicated client billing process. Moreover, the lack of visibility and control was causing the company’s financial and IT leaders to question the efficiency of their cloud usage and spend.

Solution

Lightstream tailored its service package with the goal of achieving four main objectives for the organization: cloud optimization, in-depth spending visibility, waste management, and cost reduction. They began by negotiating a contract with AWS and the software company to resell its cloud services in order to gain visibility into the organization’s spend and identify opportunities for optimization.

The organization also contracted with Lightstream for its Cloud Managed Services (CMS). Using its proprietary tool Lightstream Connect, Lightstream took a holistic view of the company’s technology spend and performance to gain a clear vision of how the cloud resources were being allocated. Lightstream identified several areas for optimization which would allow the company to take advantage of greater financial savings as well as enhanced operational and security measures.

Since its inception, Lightstream’s experience with organizations of all sizes and across all sectors led its leaders to the understanding that “advanced optics of spend” is a continuous challenge for everyone. In fact, 80% of enterprises struggle with cloud spend management.[i] That’s why the provider developed Lightstream Connect, a system that provides advanced visibility of cloud service usage. From the very simple instance all the way up to a macro pie chart of how a company spends money across AWS services, Lightstream Connect translates bills and tags into data that provides real-time clarity and accountability for consumption. This allows customers to gain a deep understanding of how their budget is being allotted as opposed to the single-line invoice they previously received.

Partnering with Lightstream for CMS has also allowed the company to tap into expertise on the latest and greatest AWS offerings. AWS is constantly adding new capabilities so users can leverage cutting-edge technologies to experiment and innovate more quickly. In addition, AWS frequently modifies its savings plans to offer more flexibility and cost savings for customers. Instead of blindly renewing their cloud services, Lightstream’s procurement team identifies and applies the appropriate new AWS offerings to the organization’s cloud environment in order to deliver the greatest performance, security and efficiency.

Business Outcomes

Lightstream’s in-depth understanding as to which AWS services would deliver the most value for this particular customer has allowed the organization to experience increased flexibility of service usage. When Lightstream first began working with the company, they were less than 10% optimized across their AWS usage. In less than six months, Lightstream has helped the company to achieve 64% cloud optimization, and is continuously working to improve upon that number.

The organization has been saving more than $50,00.00 per month through procurement optimization and waste management, i.e., the identification and elimination of unused services. Lightstream has also applied identity and access management best practices in order to enhance the company’s cloud security.

Once cloud optimization was achieved, Lightstream entered the organization into the AWS Enterprise Discount Program to reduce costs by an additional 10%. Lightstream is in the process of negotiating a private pricing offering that has the potential to cut the organization’s overall spend by an additional $40,000.00 per month over the next three years.

Lightstream directly supports the organization’s C-level executives, meeting with them regularly to report on efficiency enhancements and new opportunities for technical, financial and security optimization. Going forward, Lightstream plans to continually perform security assessments in order to routinely upgrade its configuration, identity and access management, and overall cloud performance.

Contact Information

To learn more about how Lightstream can support and optimize your cloud deployments on major platforms like AWS and Microsoft Azure with technical and operational best practices and cost optimization, visit www.lightstream.tech.


[i] https://www.informationweek.com/cloud/10-tips-for-managing-cloud-costs/d/d-id/1332242?

 

Global Retailer Trusts Lightstream for Network Connectivity Project Management

Lightstream coordinates and manages network connectivity services installation for all new warehouse openings, maintains corporate-wide network inventory, and oversees network modifications at over 800 existing sites.

Business Challenge

This company is a global, members-only retailer, with over 800 stores (i.e. warehouses) and a large membership base. Business projections are strong, and the company continues to grow, adding new members every month and opening 25-30 new warehouses per year globally.

Each warehouse is connected via a multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) network, with the recent addition of SD-WAN (software-defined wide-area networking) and broadband for highly-available multi-path networking capabilities.

Overseeing such a large network is complicated. Every change needs to be carefully planned and coordinated with the telecom provider to ensure project timelines are met and service is not disrupted.

Complexity can make this work cumbersome and frustrating. In the network connectivity space, relevant data such as circuit IDs, locations, circuit types, IP addresses, bandwidth, and more is vast and detailed. On top of that, provider billing systems are often inaccurate. Without near-constant attention to detail and a solid tracking system, network inventory can quickly get out of control, resulting in project delays and wasted money on unused services.

Before a new site can be operational, all network connectivity services must be installed and new circuits burned-in and tested. This requires coordination with contractors, telecom providers, and IT personnel with proper focus on project dates, milestones, and lead times in order to ensure a successful opening.

Solution

With network connectivity services such a complicated but vital part of its business operations, the company needed an organization with demonstrated expertise in the network connectivity industry that could manage and coordinate services with all of its service providers both for new installations and for changes at existing sites, coordinating with company facilities management, construction teams, and other third-party resources.

Today, Lightstream provides three client engagement managers (CEMs); two are dedicated to new warehouse openings, and the third focuses on existing facilities. For new warehouses, the CEMs are responsible for overseeing all project activity involving network connectivity services. This includes monitoring site surveys, ordering MPLS, internet, and voice circuits, testing circuits, coordinating with construction companies, coordinating with power companies, communicating project status, escalating issues, managing contract approvals, and all other tasks required to ensure network connectivity services are ready prior to a new warehouse opening. “Both Lightstream (CEMs) have been amazing in driving our network connectivity services work streams for new locations,” said one of the company’s IT IMAC (installation, moves, adds, changes) analysts.

At existing warehouses, the CEM helps manage network modifications. When installations, moves, adds, or changes to the network are required, the CEM interfaces with the company’s service providers and ensures work is completed successfully. On occasion, the CEM has been asked to take on additional work, as was the case with the company’s recent broadband deployment. “She (the CEM) understands what it takes to do a major broadband deployment,” said one the company’s infrastructure services project managers, “and she helped us navigate those waters with structure and clarity.”

In addition to project management services, Lightstream tracks the company’s network inventory via its Lightstream Connect platform, which provides a single pane of glass into the company’s technology spend and network. With Lightstream Connect, the company’s network connectivity team can get near real-time visibility of their entire network inventory, order status for any telecommunications services, and all contractual and technical detail of each service. This relationship has evolved and expanded over more than a decade.

Business Outcomes

Successful Network Connectivity Services IMACs (Installations, Moves, Adds, and Changes) at All Warehouse Locations

Lightstream provides the company with dedicated client engagement managers who are experts in network connectivity services and are adept at working with telecom companies, contractors, and power utilities. This delivers high-quality project management services to the company, helping to ensure successful IMACs at all the warehouse locations.

Fewer Challenges Dealing with Telecom Carriers

Having worked in the telecom industry for many years, Lightstream project managers understand how to get things done. They provide a single point of contact for network connectivity work and are experts at navigating vendor bureaucracy and solving problems, which results in fewer network connectivity services challenges.

Fewer challenges results in many benefits. First, the company’s staff spends less time working through issues and more time on project activities. Second, warehouse openings go smoother. Third, speed to implementation is increased, which helps ensure new warehouses are opened on time.

Near Real-time Access to Network Inventory

Lightstream Connect provides the network connectivity team an on-demand, accurate, up-to-date view of network inventory. The application provides an easy-to-use, intuitive interface into the company’s inventory database, giving both consolidated and detailed views of all network connectivity services across the entire organization.

Increased Carrier Billing Accuracy

Lightstream specialists not only track the company’s network inventory in Lightstream Connect but also periodically reconcile the company’s billing against expected contractual rates. This exposes billing irregularities, ensures accurate billing, and prevents the company from paying for services that are no longer needed.

Contact Information

To learn more about Lightstream Managed Services, visit www.lightstream.tech.

Large West Coast Bank Engages Lightstream and Saves Millions on WAN Costs

Lightstream helps the bank optimize its MPLS network configuration, renegotiates vendor contracts, and saves the bank millions of dollars a year.

Business Challenge

As a large banking institution, the company serves customers at over 80 locations in seven states, all connected to the headquarters site in California via a multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) wide-area network (WAN). Each location has diverse-carrier, dual MPLS circuits for redundancy and load balancing.

When a new deputy CIO arrived at the company in 2018, he began looking for ways to improve service delivery and to lower operational costs. And he quickly zeroed in on the WAN.

At the time, the company had contracts for network services with AT&T, Lumen, Verizon, and Comcast. The IT team was holding four meetings a week—one with each provider—to review orders, discuss network issues, and get status updates. The deputy CIO felt this process was disjointed and inefficient and was causing savings opportunities to be overlooked.

The deputy CIO believed using an outside firm to review their network contracts could help the company get better pricing and save money. Having worked with Lightstream before, he had confidence in Lightstream’s technical expertise, so he brought the team in to review the bank’s network environment.

Solution

When Lightstream personnel engaged, their first action was to collect a complete inventory of the network. This included MPLS, dedicated internet access (DIA) connections, private lines, voice, POTS lines, broadband, and data center connectivity. The team pored over the bank’s invoices, compared charges with the circuit inventory from the carriers, and documented their findings.

The effort was immediately fruitful. Reviewing the invoices and comparing them against the inventory, the team checked expiration dates, flagging resources that were no longer being used but for which the bank was still paying.  This optimization led to immediate cost savings.

With an accurate inventory, Lightstream then submitted requirements back to the vendors, revised quotes for services, and worked as a liaison between the bank’s IT team and the vendors to ensure the company received optimal pricing and contract terms.

Business Outcomes

Millions in Annual Network Cost Savings

By taking a broad view of network services and bringing in an objective perspective, Lightstream was able to find ways to save the company money. Lightstream reconciled billing issues and worked with the telecom companies to renegotiate contracts. This effort saved the company $3.5 million annually on one vendor contract and nearly $3 million another, resulting in almost $6.5 million in total annual network cost savings.

Single Point of Contact for Vendor Communication

Prior to Lightstream getting involved, vendor communication was a challenge. At the time, the company held separate meetings with each vendor. This was time-consuming and inefficient, and it often led to miscommunication between service providers.

Engaging Lightstream solved this problem. The company now holds only one meeting a week with Lightstream technicians to review all orders, discuss status updates, explore pricing concerns, and resolve disputes with their providers. Lightstream represents all vendors and acts as the single point of contact, simplifying communications for the company and providing an advocate to help the organization get the best services possible at the best rates.

Consolidated Dashboard View of Network Inventory

When Lightstream was engaged, the first step was to collect an accurate network inventory. This information was then loaded into Lightstream ConnectTM, an industry-leading proprietary inventory management system that stores all of a customer’s telecommunications inventory data and provides a dashboard-driven interface for access to the information.

Connect allows the bank’s IT team to get an accurate, consolidated view of all their network inventory, making it easier for them to manage their network installation and to track updates.

Next Steps

Like most organizations, the bank plans to migrate many of its IT systems to the public cloud. While some workloads have been migrated already, the majority of the company’s applications still run on infrastructure in on-premises data centers.

To assist this effort, Lightstream provides Cloud Managed Services to assist the bank in technical, financial, and security optimization of its cloud assets. Lightstream cloud experts, acting as an extension of the company’s AWS team, are analyzing the bank’s current cloud financials, identifying cloud resources and costs, and recommending optimization steps that will enable the company to buy resources at lower cost and save money.

Today, the company spends nearly $250,000 per month on cloud infrastructure; and that amount is growing. Although Lightstream’s optimization work has just begun and results are pending, early projections are that the company could save $400,000 to $500,000 on its cloud spend annually.

Contact Information

To learn more about how Lightstream Managed Services can help you reduce network costs and improve service delivery, visitwww.lightstream.tech.

A Global Automotive Supplier Implements SD-WAN, Lowers Costs, and Improves Service Delivery

Lightstream Managed Services designs and implements Fortinet SD-WAN and Lightstream Endpoint Defense built on Cortex XDR from Palo Alto Networks to help the company shift from MPLS, lower network costs, and improve endpoint security.

Business Challenge

A large global automotive supplier, like many organizations, faced uncertainty in March 2020. No one could predict the outcome of the COVID-19 pandemic or estimate the effect it would have on the company’s global revenue. This put pressure on the company’s budgets, and leaders across the organization searched for ways to lower costs.

For the IT organization, this effort involved assessing the company’s global IT operations, identifying trouble spots, and exploring new technologies both to lower costs and to improve service delivery. One area that quickly stood out was the wide-area network (WAN).

The company relied on a private MPLS (multi-protocol label switching) wide-area network with centralized network-based firewalls, all managed by a large, global telecommunications provider. The provider staffed the network operations center (NOC) and owned service delivery for everything outbound from the routers at each site, including all network circuits and bandwidth.

When prioritizing projects to pursue, the WAN was a logical place to start. The MPLS network was expensive, and the company had been experiencing operational problems and network outages. For years, the company had two different service providers—one managing their WAN and another managing their security operations center (SOC)—and the two organizations often struggled to work together cohesively. Changes often were made by one provider without coordinating with the other, and these sometimes caused loss of service, degraded performance, or security gaps that lasted for weeks as the two providers tried to resolve the problems.

Solution

To address these challenges, the company sought proposals for an SD-WAN (software-defined wide-area network) solution. The company’s IT leaders believed SD-WAN technology offered many attractive benefits and would be a lower-cost alternative to their existing MPLS network.

At the beginning, the company wanted an SD-WAN proposal with centralized network-based firewalls similar to their current WAN configuration. But as Lightstream experts met with the company and discussed SD-WAN capabilities, they were convinced a centralized architecture wasn’t the best fit. Instead, the Lightstream team proposed placing firewalls at the edge. This allowed local access to internet and third party providers, as opposed to channeling traffic through a central site, which lowered the risk of bottlenecks and outages.

The company agreed with the design recommendation. Lightstream submitted a design placing Fortinet firewalls with SD-WAN at the edge in a high availability configuration, which included two firewalls and two circuits at each site, along with full managed services for the devices.

As discussions with the company continued, the topic of security came up. The company had struggled for years with problems caused by having two different services providers, one managing the WAN and the other managing security.

Lightstream solved this problem by proposing full managed services for the SD-WAN network. This included the network operations center (NOC), the security operations center (SOC), and the management of the firewalls. Doing this meant one provider would be responsible for coordinating changes, identifying problems, and resolving issues with the WAN.

The company liked the solution, and Lightstream was selected over several competitors. After six weeks of engineering work, the new SD-WAN architecture was implemented.

During this same time, the company decided to explore a new endpoint security solution for its 3,000 devices. Symantec was the company’s current provider. The contract with Symantec was nearing expiration, and the company was looking for a replacement solution that provided full endpoint detection and response (EDR) capability.

Lightstream proposed Lightstream Endpoint Defense built on Cortex XDR from Palo Alto Networks with full managed services as the replacement for Symantec and was awarded the contract, beating out several large EDR solution providers. The company required an aggressive implementation—3,000 devices across the globe in less than six weeks. Lightstream not only met the aggressive timeline, but also exceeded expectations by turning on all 3,000 devices two weeks ahead of schedule.

Business Outcomes

More Cohesive WAN Service Delivery

By reducing the number of service providers from two to one, the company was able to eliminate delays caused by conflicting actions and priorities. Since Lightstream is responsible for managing the network operations center (NOC), the security operations center (SOC), the Fortinet firewalls, and the Palo Alto Cortex XDR endpoints, changes are coordinated and problems are quickly identified and resolved. This has simplified service delivery for the company and eliminated problems caused by lack of communication.

Reduced Risk

Redesigning the WAN lowered the risk of outages to the business. By placing firewalls at the edge instead of centralizing them, the company was able to improve service performance and reduce the chance of an outage impacting a large number of users.

A More Modern, Lower Cost Wide-Area Network

The implementation of SD-WAN modernized the company’s wide-area network. The company can now take advantage of the core benefits of SD-WAN technology—lower-cost bandwidth, support for cloud-based apps, improved agility, and more—at each of the company’s global locations.

Enhanced Endpoint Security Protection

Selecting Cortex XDR from Palo Alto Networks enhances the company’s endpoint security. With Cortex XDR, the company receives a full detection and response solution, enabling them to leverage threat intelligence, identify threats early, and respond to them before widespread problems can occur.

Contact Information

To learn more about how Lightstream Managed Services can help you architect, implement, and manage an SD-WAN that meets your business needs, visit Lightstream.tech.

Lightstream Helps Software Company Optimize AWS and Azure Cloud Environments

Lightstream Cloud Managed Services optimizes operational, security and financial aspects of cloud environments

Business Challenge

A software company specializing in ERP design, implementation and integration for life science organizations houses its solutions in Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure cloud environments. They choose to have a dual presence in order to take advantage of the best features each provider has to offer.

The organization was, overall, pleased with this architecture and the performance of its cloud-based applications and systems. The cloud gave the software company the agility to spin up resources as needed without the lengthy and expensive process of buying, installing and testing systems prior to production. However, its IT leaders knew they needed an additional set of tools in order analyze and make changes to their environments and to ensure optimal usage and cost control.

With the goal of maximizing cloud expenditures, the company’s CIO was considering offloading some of his department’s cloud management responsibilities after determining there was room for improvement in the financial, security and operational aspects of the company’s cloud environments.

Solution

The organization agreed to test out Lightstream’s Cloud Managed Services (CMS) with a 60-day proof of concept (POC). This is a low-risk option offered by Lightstream to organizations in order help them understand the long-term benefits of engaging in a CMS agreement. Using its proprietary tool called Lightstream Connect, Lightstream took a holistic view of the company’s technology spend and network performance to gain a clear vision of how the cloud resources were being allocated. Lightstream identified several areas for optimization which would allow the company to take advantage of greater financial savings as well as enhanced operational and security measures.

At the conclusion of the 60-day POC, the software company’s CIO had come to understand the potential savings and technical optimization his company was missing out on. He reviewed his options and agreed to a Platinum-level CMS contract with Lightstream, as it would provide the toolset to ensure the ideal management and optimization of the company’s cloud environments. This comprehensive advisory service would also lift some of the burden off of the internal IT department, as Lightstream’s partnership with and certified expertise on both AWS and Azure would provide the organization with the assistance it needed in managing its dual-cloud infrastructure.

Business Outcomes

In the short time since Lightstream took over the management and optimization of the company’s cloud environments, it has realized a nearly 10% savings on the total monthly AWS and Azure expenditures. In addition, the company is benefitting from stronger cloud security since becoming a Lightstream Cloud Managed Services customer with improvement of 15% of the scores generated through Lightstream’s security tools.

Part of the benefit of partnering with a provider like Lightstream is its deep affiliation and expertise in the latest technology offered by cloud service providers. Lightstream recommends opportunities for additional savings as well as security and performance enhancements as they become available. For instance, this organization is currently considering upgrading its AWS gp2 storage volumes to Amazon gp3, which is the next-generation general-purpose SSD volume for Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS). With gp3, this software company can provision performance independent of storage capacity at a 20% lower price point per GB than with its existing gp2 volumes. With Lightstream as its trusted partner, the company can count on continued technological innovation and optimization well into the future.

Contact Information

To speak with a representative about having your environment assessed at no cost to you, or to learn more about how Lightstream Cloud Managed Services can help your business successfully migrate to and optimize your cloud environments, visit https://www.lightstream.tech/.

A Mortgage Company Relies on Lightstream to Design and Build Its Hybrid Cloud Infrastructure in Azure

Company builds infrastructure in Microsoft Azure that will support its IT modernization initiatives and position it for the future.

Business Challenge

Driving profitability in the mortgage servicing industry is a constant challenge. To be successful, companies must find ways of growing business in a competitive, regulation-driven industry while at the same time reducing operational costs. And technology plays an important role.

For one California-based company, finding economies of scale and competitive advantages through new technology meant modernizing its IT infrastructure. The company had two geographically separated data centers, one in the east and one in the west, and remote offices connected via a wide-area network. The organization’s leaders realized that to position the organization for the future the company needed to adopt a cloud-first strategy for new applications and to move other legacy apps into the cloud. But to carry out that strategy, they first needed to build a secure cloud infrastructure.

Solution

When Lightstream spoke to the company’s CIO, the organization was in the early stages of designing a cloud environment. His technical team, however, had limited experience with cloud computing, and they were open about their questions and concerns, especially around the best way to implement security in the cloud.

As the technical team began envisioning the company’s new infrastructure, several requirements were identified. First, since the existing wide-area network and security implementation was based on Palo Alto Networks’ platform, the team wanted to continue using the Palo Alto platform in the cloud. Second, the existing network design had caused intermittent problems with authentication. As a result, the company wanted to implement a different network design for authentication, with the cloud serving as the primary domain controller for authentication services and an existing data center serving as its backup.

To address the company’s needs, Lightstream conducted a Cloud Foundation Framework engagement coupled with guided implementation services for Microsoft Azure and Palo Alto Networks Next-Gen Firewall (NGFW).

The first step was to understand the company’s legacy environment. Lightstream experts reviewed the company’s business requirements, infrastructure, data services, security landscape, application portfolio, operations tools, and processes to gain a clear understanding of the company’s operating environment.

Next, the team conducted whiteboard design sessions. Using information about the company’s existing environment, its cloud infrastructure functional requirements, and optimal cloud design practices, the Lightstream team developed the company’s hybrid cloud infrastructure design, including core cloud configurations, standards and governance, identity and access management (IAM), network interconnectivity, security, and operational processes.

Included in the design step was a review of the company’s network design and Palo Alto Networks configuration. The team then redesigned the network into a hybrid configuration using a hub and spoke topology based on Palo Alto’s VM-Series NGFW (next-generation firewall).

The last step was to implement the Azure environment along with the new network design. This effort involved building two Azure environments (one for production and one for development to support analytics) and included the core infrastructure configurations, virtual networks and subnets, and native security services, as well as deploying the Palo Alto NGFW in a redundant configuration to ensure high availability.

Business Outcomes

Highly Available Hybrid Network Design

From the beginning, the company planned to move as much to the cloud as possible, but the leadership team understood that some applications would need to remain in a legacy data center. As a result, the network design had to ensure high availability for both cloud apps and on-premises services.

The new network design utilizes redundant Palo Alto firewalls to ensure high availability. Also, by moving the domain controller for authentication to the cloud, remote locations now have two connection points for authentication instead of one. Therefore, if one link is down, users are automatically routed to the backup site for authentication, thereby eliminating the chance of a network outage causing a disruption of services.

Secure Platform for IT Modernization

With the implementation of an Azure landing zone, the company now has a secure cloud environment that will support its IT modernization strategy. The company can deploy new applications with confidence, knowing the environment has been designed and implemented with proper security and availability features, and begin to move legacy apps to the new environment as its business will allow.

Faster Cloud Deployment

Because the company’s technical team had limited experience with cloud computing, designing and building a cloud environment was both time-consuming and challenging. And there was a lot of uncertainty on the best way to accomplish the company’s objectives.

Working with Lightstream experts, however, alleviated a lot of concerns, and the company was able to deploy a cloud infrastructure faster and more confidently than it could have done on its own.

Contact Information

To learn more about how Lightstream Managed Services can help you architect, implement, and manage a cloud environment that meets your business needs, visit Lightstream.tech.

Software Company Achieves International Growth and Ongoing Innovation with Help from Lightstream and AWS

Lightstream Cloud Managed Services gives Entrata the tools to successfully migrate to the cloud and optimize the operational, security and financial aspects of its environment

Business Challenge

Since its inception in 2003, Entrata has prided itself on developing innovative solutions for the property management industry. That innovation is what allows the company to deliver on its pledge to make life easier for property owners, managers and residents. From property management software that simplifies accounting and purchasing to complete automation that enables remote lighting, locks, thermostats, Entrata’s suite of products is as comprehensive as it is state of the art.

Entrata first connected with Lightstream in 2011 as the company’s IT leaders sought to upgrade network connectivity and performance while reducing costs. In the years that followed, Entrata’s IT team came to rely on Lightstream for help overcoming technological challenges and improving the efficiency, reliability and security of their IT operations. As the company expanded and technology evolved, it became evident that moving certain applications and resources to the cloud would be beneficial to the organization and its customers. Migrating from on-premises to the cloud would allow the company to innovate faster and at a global scale.

Once again, Entrata turned to long-time partner Lightstream for assistance with this migration. After selecting AWS as its cloud service provider (CSP), the next step was ensuring that the best practices, tools, expertise, financial incentives and partner ecosystem offered by AWS were implemented to make cloud adoption easier. Lightstream’s extensive experience with the AWS Migration Acceleration Program (MAP) – a comprehensive and proven cloud migration program – enabled its engineers to provide Entrata with expert guidance through the often-complicated process. MAP consists of a three-phase journey that helps customers leverage the performance, security and reliability of the cloud while reducing complexity and costs.

The migration was a success, and Entrata quickly saw the enhanced innovation, elevated customer experience and digital transformation possible within the cloud. Before long Entrata’s director of engineering knew the time was right to migrate even more applications and resources to the cloud. Upon discussing this with his Lightstream representatives, he also understood that there was an opportunity to optimize the financial, technical, security and operational aspects of their current environment.

Solution

As a platinum-level Lightstream Cloud Managed Services customer, Entrata began taking advantage of the tools that ensure the ideal management and optimization of its cloud environment. This comprehensive advisory service also lifts some of the burden off of the internal IT department, as Lightstream’s partnership with AWS and its AWS Advance Consulting certification assists the organization in determining the ideal migration path for its additional infrastructure and applications.

To maximize Entrata’s savings with AWS, Lightstream assisted with the negotiation and management of the company’s contracting for AWS Enterprise Discount Plan (EDP). Additionally, Lightstream adjusted Entrata’s Elastic Block Store (EBS) Provisioned IOPS and EBS-Optimized instances to optimize its storage within Amazon EC2. Provisioned IOPS are an EBS volume type designed to deliver predictable, high performance for I/O intensive workloads, such as database applications, that rely on consistent and fast response times. Ongoing management assures that the IOPS are periodically adjusted according to the organization’s actual needs and avoids overprovisioning.

Business Outcomes

The ongoing optimization of the operational, security and financial aspects of Entrata’s cloud environment is currently saving the company approximately 20% of their total AWS spend per month. Quarterly meetings between Lightstream and Entrata allow the teams to come together to review infrastructure performance and provides the company with ongoing recommendations on what actions can be taken to continue to save money and enhance efficiency and security.

Entrata has steadily grown from a software development startup to a successful user experience organization offering a full suite of services that takes the complexity out of property management. Throughout the years, the company’s relationship with Lightstream has evolved from that of a basic vendor/client exchange to a true technology partnership.

Entrata is currently expanding into international territories, a growth strategy that has been made possible due to its cloud infrastructure. Despite the economic downturn of 2020-2021, Entrata has continued to flourish and increase business. One opportunity the organization may want to consider in the near future is to migrate its gp2 volumes to Amazon’s new gp3 volumes, which are the next-generation general purpose SSD volumes for EBS that would enable Entrata to provision performance independent of storage capacity and take advantage of up to 20% lower price-point per GB than its existing gp2 volumes. As the organization moves forward in its cloud journey, Lightstream is standing by to help the company achieve continued innovation and growth.

Award-Winning California School District Provides Students and Families with Continuous Access to School Resources in Azure

Lightstream helps Twin Rivers Unified School District implement the power of Azure cloud computing for its parent portal

Business Challenge

Twin Rivers Unified School District is the 27th largest public K-12 school system in California, serving nearly 27,000 students in northern Sacramento County at 52 school sites. With a long list of honors and accomplishments for its students, teachers, staff, schools and programs, Twin Rivers prides itself on an unwavering commitment to its community.

One of the primary methods of communication between the district and the families it serves is its parent portal. The Aeries Parent Portal is a website and app where parents and guardians can track student assignments, see grades, exchange information and messages with their student’s teachers and school, and make payments to their child’s in-school meal account. Parents need access to this portal on a daily basis, but when internet access or power went down at Twin Rivers’ main site, portal access would also be suspended.

The administrators at Twin Rivers understood that they had to find a way to ensure uninterrupted portal access to families. The district’s manager of network and systems operations knew the answer was in the cloud, so he attended Microsoft Azure’s Cloud Foundation Workshop hosted by Lightstream engineers and architects. There he gained a fundamental understanding and best practices for deploying and managing applications and services in the cloud as well as insight into the valuable solutions and tool sets available to Twin Rivers.

Solution

Lightstream’s extensive experience providing educational institutions with the tools they need to keep their systems up, running and secure regardless of external factors proved valuable to Twin Rivers. The district held follow-up consultations with their Lightstream team to discuss the deployment of Active Directory Federation Servers (AD FS) within Microsoft Azure. AD FS provides simplified, secured identity federation and Web single sign-on (SSO) capabilities. A global load balancing service could seamlessly reroute portal traffic through MS Azure in any instances where traffic is not able to pass through on-premises servers.

This would enable users of the parent portal to login using on-premises credentials and access all resources in cloud – even if power or internet access is lost at Twin Rivers’ main site.

Business Outcomes

Since early 2020, Twin Rivers’ highly available AD FS infrastructure has ensured uninterrupted access to portal resources and services both on-premises and in the cloud. The solution is easily scalable, so should Twin Rivers require additional performance, it can migrate to more powerful machines with just a few clicks in Azure. Moreover, Azure’s simplified infrastructure management options provide the district’s manager of network and systems operations with an easy and hassle-free method for maintaining solution redundancy.

Twin Rivers is realizing the benefits of cloud computing and its ability to help the district deliver on its mission to facilitate effective and powerful communication practices that build trust and support for its students, families, teachers and staff. The AD FS cloud infrastructure offered a relatively easy solution to Twin Rivers’ portal access challenge, but as the K-12 industry is evolving to become more collaborative, student-centric and data-driven, the district may soon find itself in need of more extensive optimization of its IT systems and platforms.

As the district moves forward in an ever-evolving industry, Lightstream is prepared to draw on its broad educational technology expertise to ensure that Twin Rivers doesn’t just survive but thrives with the support it needs for future innovation and transformation.

Contact Information

To learn more about how Lightstream can help you identify, understand and implement the optimal solutions you need to modernize operations and build your institution’s roadmap to the future, visit www.lightstream.tech.