Flux7 Helps BioPharma Beat Cancer with AWS-Based Tableau Infrastructure

Flux7 Helps BioPharma Beat Cancer with AWS-Based Tableau Infrastructure

By Flux7 Labs
December 20, 2019

The American Cancer Society expects more than 1.7 million new cancer cases this year, with 606,880 Americans — or 1,660 people per day — expected to die of cancer. Addressing this serious challenge is our biopharmaceutical customer whose key weapon in the battle is data. In fact, industry research finds that a single cancer patient can generate up to one terabyte of data. Yet, synthesizing this data and finding meaningful insights can be challenging. Thus, this premier biopharmaceutical organization reached out to the IT consulting services team at Flux7 to help it design a network and resource infrastructure for Tableau Server cluster deployment for true data intelligence.

Our customer chose Tableau for its data analysis needs as it is a powerful, secure, and flexible end-to-end analytics platform that effectively scales to meet its enterprise needs. Tableau Server empowers its employees to explore data with natural language questions (and without being limited to pre-defined questions, wizards, or chart types). Moreover, with its AI-based, advanced statistical models, it helps find insights that may have otherwise gone uncovered. Tableau Server users can create workbooks and views, dashboards, and data sources in Tableau Desktop, and then publish this content to the server.


With over 300 users, Flux7 was given the challenge to build Tableau Server for scale, integrate with back-end data as Tableau is used as the visualization tool, and create a CloudFormation template and repository. As the service will be exposed externally, Flux7 was also tasked with ensuring its security. (More on that in a second blog about this customer’s story. Subscribe to the Flux7 blog to make sure you don’t miss it!)


AWS Infrastructure for Enhanced Scalability, Availability

As an online solution for sharing, distributing, and collaborating on business intelligence content, the Tableau Server must scale to serve hundreds of employees. The Tableau Server structure, as a result, is a multi-node cluster deployment that installs Tableau Server on Microsoft Windows Server within AWS. 


Specifically, we created the Tableau application as infrastructure as code and merged it to a source code management (SCM) system so that end users can deploy infrastructure repeatedly. Spread across two AWS Availability Zones (AZs), the Flux7 cloud consulting services solution team created a Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) with Public and Private Subnets — one for the Tableau Primary instance and one for two worker instances designed to support high availability. And, to ensure end users can consistently provision VPCs, we created a VPC template in the firm’s SCM.


While we created a new AWS Account for the initiative, using separate VPCs, we segregated it for Development, User Acceptance Testing and Production environments so that end users have isolated stages to test and promote new versions and configurations of the Tableau product. Using the Tableau Server on AWS Quick Start, Flux7 AWS consultants used AWS CloudFormation Templates to create the network and Tableau infrastructure. 


In order to ensure we were able to meet a variety of system demands, we enabled parameter availability for EBS volume size and deployed Amazon’s Application Load Balancer to ensure system flexibility and performance. And, for enhanced security, requests to instances are directed through the application load balancer using a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate.


AWS Integrations for Enhanced Security

The AWS environment is integrated with the biopharmaceutical company’s on-premises identity provider so that end users are able to use their existing credentials to access AWS resources. Moreover, Flux7’s AWS consultants matched the service gateway to the map provided by Tableau, thereby providing minimum access with maximum availability. Last, we worked closely with the customer team to ensure that end users have DNS and SSL set up correctly in order to easily and securely access Tableau from their web browsers.


In addition to developing a foundation for this pharma’s AWS Tableau initiative, the Flux7 AWS consulting services team provided live knowledge transfer sessions in which it taught the team how to manage and extend the solution moving forward. 


Curbing cancer takes research and deep data analytics. Coupled with a host of security features and controls, our customer now has a highly available, scalable Tableau application infrastructure developed as code. This platform provides them with business continuity that gives them a stark advantage in their fight to beat cancer. 

Don’t miss part two of this customer’s story. Subscribe to the Flux7 blog today. 

Technology is always changing. Stay in the loop with the Flux7 Blog

Written by Flux7 Labs

Flux7 is the only Sherpa on the DevOps journey that assesses, designs, and teaches while implementing a holistic solution for its enterprise customers, thus giving its clients the skills needed to manage and expand on the technology moving forward. Not a reseller or an MSP, Flux7 recommendations are 100% focused on customer requirements and creating the most efficient infrastructure possible that automates operations, streamlines and enhances development, and supports specific business goals.