Travis County

Travis County

Client

About

DoubleHorn uses AWS to give
its customers scalability and
enhanced security, helping local
governments and other organizations
scale their websites and
other critical systems up or down
based on demand. The company
designs and implements a range
of business communications and
cloud services to small, mid-sized,
and large organizations.
DoubleHorn helps customers
migrate to the AWS Cloud and
is a member of the AWS Partner
Network (APN).

The Challenge

As the company’s business grows, DoubleHorn increasingly needs to
help government agencies and organizations meet their scalability needs.
“Many local government entities have public-facing websites that receive
traffic bursts at certain peak times, and those agencies need to support
that,” says Don Mackenzie, sales engineer for DoubleHorn.

An example is the Travis County Clerk’s Office, which provides the official
government website for publishing county, state, and federal election
results data in Travis County, Texas. During the March 2016 national
primary elections, the site experienced major performance degradation
following a huge traffic increase. “We had a website outage due to server
performance, because our on-premises web solution was overrun by the
traffic spike,” says Scott Flom, IT division manager for the Travis County
Clerk’s Office. “During that time, county residents couldn’t get election
results or updates. We knew we couldn’t let that happen again.”

DoubleHorn also helps customers like the Travis County Clerk’s Office
address strict security requirements. The Travis County Clerk’s Office
website displays information such as property, court, and other records.
“Security is of paramount importance to government agencies,” says
Mackenzie. “It’s critical that this information, along with election data,
is protected.”

Why Amazon Web Services

For several years, DoubleHorn has helped customers migrate websites
and other systems to the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud. “We chose
to become an AWS APN partner because AWS is innovative, offers an
incredible range of services, and continuously delivers new technologies,”
says Mackenzie. DoubleHorn participates in the AWS Public Sector
Partner Program and is also an AWS Government Competency Partner.
The program has propelled business forward for many of the organization’s clients.

Because it was interested in moving to the cloud to gain scalability and enhance security, the Travis County Clerk’s Office engaged DoubleHorn to re-engineer its website using AWS. “DoubleHorn offered a solid solution, and the elasticity and scalability of AWS was very attractive to us,” says Mackenzie. DoubleHorn holds the Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR) contracts in cloud assessment services, cloud broker services, cloud infrastructure as a service (IaaS), and cloud software as a service (SaaS). Having a cloud services contract with DIR means public entities can do business directly with DoubleHorn without worrying about terms and conditions, SLAs, and other purchasing requirements, because those requirements have already been pre-negotiated with the State of Texas.

DoubleHorn migrated the Travis County Clerk’s Office website to AWS, running on multiple Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances. The solution also takes advantage of Auto Scaling, which automatically scales compute capacity for the site up or down based on traffic increases or decreases.

Additionally, DoubleHorn deployed virtualized firewalls and advanced proxy techniques to help the Clerk’s Office meet its compliance requirements.

The Benefits

By relying on the automatic scalability of AWS, the Travis County Clerk’s Office has the capacity required to easily support massive web traffic spikes during elections. The organization demonstrated its new capabilities during the November 2016 election. “On election day, our website traffic was 25 times that of a typical day,” says Flom. “We were able to support that spike without problems or impact to our end users, thanks to AWS and DoubleHorn.” The Travis County Clerk’s Office now has enhanced security, because DoubleHorn utilized AWS security best practices during the migration and implemented a powerful security solution that increased perimeter security. “We are very confident in our threat detection capabilities and overall security with this solution,” says Flom.

The organization is also expecting to reduce operating costs by running its website in the cloud. “They will save a large amount of money by being on AWS,” says Mackenzie. “If they were using an on-premises solution or hosting the site internally, they would be paying for compute capacity all the time, without the ability to scale down and pay for what they use.” In addition, the Travis County Clerk’s Office can ensure the reliability of its website for the thousands of county residents who use it every day. “Because of the high availability and reliability of AWS, we can give our end users round-the-clock access to the information they’re looking for, when they need it—whether it’s election results or public records,” says Flom.

Mackenzie believes that DoubleHorn will be able to repeat the success of the Travis County Clerk’s Office project with other government organizations. “Working with the Travis County Clerk’s Office, we clearly demonstrated that AWS is an excellent solution for counties needing dynamic, elastic capabilities for their critical systems. The Travis County Clerk’s Office saw that as well, and they are now considering moving additional systems to AWS in the near future.

Goals

  • Architect a cloud solution that gives Travis County scalable data storage
  • Prevent outages due to server performance when website traffic increases i.e. Election season
  • Improve monthly spend optimization
  • Optimize cloud management, load balance, ease of use using the platform