AWS Case Study Research Firm Attains Secure High Performance Computing

By Flux7 Labs
February 27, 2018

We recently had the opportunity to work with a privately-held clinical research organization that was interested in updating the systems that its internal team of research scientists uses for data analysis. It was interested in moving to the AWS cloud as the team’s large data-related demands had outgrown its on-premise system and needed the benefit of a highly secure, elastic, high-performance computing environment.

In addition, the company had several other requirements that we’re sharing in today’s AWS case study:

  • To meet its compliance needs, the research firm needed its new environment to be FISMA and NIST 800-53 compliant and have AWS security best practices built-in.  
  • To meet the growing data demands of its scientists, the firm required that the new environment offer scalability and high availability.
  • Last, the environment needed to support two technologies the company uses regularly, Galaxy and RStudio.

The Flux7 DevOps team worked closely with this clinical research company to develop its new, compliant AWS environment running Galaxy and RStudio. The teams started by using the Flux7 Enterprise DevOps Framework as a foundation to create a high-performance computing environment for this company’s research scientists.

To start, they created a service-agnostic landing zone where the firm’s services will deploy. To build the landing zone, the teams created an AWS CloudFormation template that defines VPC, Subnets, NAT Gateways, Internet Gateways, Security Groups, and NACLs. In this way, the firm is able to track changes and reproduce the same landing zone in different environments — production, development and staging — growing consistency and reliability.

The Flux7 team built a single Galaxy cluster within AWS using CfnCluster, Amazon’s framework that deploys and maintains high-performance computing clusters on AWS. This allowed the scientific team to use the same cluster and not be concerned about tracking and managing an unwieldy number of clusters and helped them take advantage of spot instances.

For compliance, Flux7 implemented AWS CIS Framework recommendations and NIST 800-level controls as a moderate baseline. In addition, it ensured security best practices through several controls that can be read about in the full case study, found here.

In addition to a secure, scalable AWS environment, knowledge transfer was a key gating factor of success, with this company wanting to efficiently manage its own infrastructure moving forward. As a result, Flux7 taught the DevOps and security teams along the way ‘how to fish’ to ensure they could effectively manage and extend the infrastructure moving forward.

In all, Flux7 enabled this company’s scientists to effectively analyze critical data in a new high performance computing environment.  And, the Flux7 Enterprise DevOps Framework-based environment meets the company’s FISMA and NIST compliance objectives.

Moreover, the firm now has an optimized architecture to maximize AWS benefits for decreased maintenance. In the past, this firm had to configure its environment manually and if it was out of capacity, bring it all down and rebuild it. Following the new AWS Galaxy cluster implementation, the company now has a fully scalable cluster where resources are able to spin up and down based on jobs in the queue, maximizing scientist productivity, reducing costs, and ensuring long-term success.

For additional reading on AWS Case Studies where Flux7 helped increase automation for better resource utilization and enhanced security: