Since the earliest days of the Accord LMS we have always been committed to providing a safe and secure server environment which meets the performance needs of our clients. After more than a decade, we’ve decided that it’s time to move our SaaS clients over to a new environment. This article explains what the move to Amazon Web Services means for you in the upcoming months and beyond.
Please Note: This will not apply to our Self-Hosted LMS Clients. Only SaaS clients will be moving to the new Framework.
What is Amazon Web Services (AWS)
According to Amazon, "Amazon Web Services (AWS) is the world’s most comprehensive and broadly adopted cloud platform, offering over 200 fully featured services from data centers globally. Millions of customers—including the fastest-growing startups, largest enterprises and leading government agencies are using AWS to lower costs, become more agile and innovate faster."
Since Accord LMS was originally released more than a decade ago, we have hosted clients on our own servers residing in a secure Canadian facility. Over the years we’ve had to periodically increase the size and power of our servers to support our growing customer base. AWS gives us an opportunity to move our services into a cloud using an array of Virtual Servers. Hosting our clients in the Amazon cloud provides three primary benefits to our clients.
- Accord will be able to strengthen our already stringent security protocols.
- AWS tools allow for enhanced reliability and fault tolerance as we grow.
- AWS will automatically scale to match Accord’s organic growth for new and existing clients.
This article will briefly introduce you to each of these enhancements which will be made available to our clients. We will also briefly review the requirements and scheduling required to move each of our clients over to the AWS environment.
Accord has maintained the highest level of security standards possible. This has included providing routine server maintenance, security patch application, internal staff security requirements and more. We have also created our proprietary Pridwen DDOS shield which provides constant monitoring for attacks. Amazon still includes all of this and then further ups the ante to a whole new level.
AWS supports 90 security standards and compliance certifications. In addition, all 117 AWS services that store customer data offer the ability to encrypt this data. With AWS Accord can provide encryption at rest as a standard offering for all aspects of your LMS server environment.
What is AWS Security? (Video: 2:28)
AWS Security - More Details
The Amazon cloud features a modular design which builds redundancy into both the hardware and software components of their framework. AWS is technology not magic, so although not completely impervious to outages, inherent redundancies exist, which when coupled with constant monitoring of all systems by extensively trained Network Operations Professionals and automated systems, has the effect of dramatically reducing any likelihoods of failure. In the unlikely event of a failure, these same systems ensure a rapid, if not immediate resolution.
Now let’s place this into a practical context.
The nature of our new architecture allows for a full server failure without our LMS customers incurring any performance issues. During our last 12 months of testing and analysis we’ve found that crippling hardware failures (e.g. CPU's, RAM, or Hard Drive) have not slowed our response times. That is to say that critical failures have been mitigated to the point that they may even go unnoticed.
Accord is a growing business. We’re continually adding new customers and increasing user counts. This eventually takes a toll on our servers in our current environment. Our new cloud hosting framework is set with triggers which will automatically spin-up additional servers when certain utilization thresholds are met. For our clients, this means they will not suffer performance degradation or any other related issues due to other clients using CPU, Bandwidth or storage. Amazon automatically adds a server whenever necessary to manage our load.
Just as a reminder, Accord has always managed our clients as individual databases. Your data does not appear as part of a monolithic ‘Master’ database with our other clients. This model will be maintained as our hosting services move to the Amazon Cloud in central Canada.
We need your help!
We can’t make a move this big without your help. Fortunately it won't be difficult. You will receive more detailed instructions but the following summary succinctly outlines the general process for most clients.
- You will receive a notification to schedule your migration. This notification will provide your IT team with a few settings to change in your DNS settings. Please notify all users to expect the LMS to be down for scheduled maintenance of the day of the migration.
- During the migration, Accord will back up your LMS and all associated data from its existing location and then restore the data to its new home on AWS. Accord will test the migration to make sure that everything is working as it should.
- Your IT team will be provided the final DNS settings which will point your Domain Name over to the new server. At this point your site becomes live.
There will not be any visible differences for your users. This migration will not affect the LMS itself. This change only relates to where the LMS is hosted. The user experience should be a scheduled maintenance window during which attempting to access the LMS will result in a Notification that the site is temporarily off-line.
The duration of the down time will vary based on the amount of data Accord will be moving, the responsiveness of the client IT team in making the DNS changes, and DNS propagation time, but should be less than one business day.
The move to Amazon Web Services is a huge move upwards for Accord. AWS provides a platform that allows us to support our continued strong growth while providing a more secure and reliable platform for our existing users. We humbly offer our sincere gratitude for all of your support over the years. We are eagerly looking forward to what lies ahead in 2022 and beyond. Please; if you have any questions contact your Solutions Engineer or the Accord Support Team.