EXOM, is a globally acting full-service CRO (Contract Research Organization), founded in 2014 in Milan (Italy). Exom’s primary mission is to implement next-generation clinical trial 5.0 processes by exploiting innovative technologies and combining them with our in-depth human expertise in managing clinical trials.
Thanks to this combination and the power of our proprietary, multi-modular, cloud-based platform, Genius Suite™, Exom improves efficiencies and escalates process speeds while ensuring high-quality data and cost reduction for early-phase to the late-stage trials.
Their Partners can benefit from an international network called Exom Alliance, which provides a flexible and established organization with broad expertise in clinical research, active across Europe, North America, and other important markets.
A SUCCESSFUL COLLABORATION TO OVERCOME THE CLOUD MIGRATION CHALLENGE
The migration consisted in the integration of microservices, which relied exclusively on Kubernetes framework, with AWS managed Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS), a tool which combines the delivery simplicity of a Kubernetes Cluster by means of the control plane management, to the possibility to speed up the delivery process exploiting AWS services.
Furthermore, to centralize the DNS management and reduce the configuration timing concerning passing through a third-party provider, Exom has required Storm Reply’s expertise to safely transfer the full administration of the “exom trials“ domain to Amazon Route53 in a few days.
The real challenge consisted of working closely to exploit and optimize the Kubernetes framework to draw up development and production environments
that could effectively support Exom developers in their everyday activities. That has been possible by applying proven methodologies and AWS-Best-Practices, especially in terms of information protection and security, which is fundamental for those who deal with sensitive data.
The success, achieved through close collaboration between the teams and Storm Reply’s experience, an Amazon Premier Consulting Partner since 2014, came in the phases of building the infrastructure and Continuous Integration / Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) processes, using very innovative technologies and paradigms. Especially for what concern Managed Service Provider (MSP) activities, which add more value to Exom business, with particular attention to Incident Management, system monitoring and security.
QUESTIONS TO EXOM & ANSWERS
Why did you choose to switch to AWS?
Amazon Webservices is the global market leader when it comes to cloud technology and infrastructure. As reliability is a crucial factor in clinical trials, we were looking for a partner with the market’s best reputation. We know that we can rely 100% on AWS, that the services will be available when we need them and that failure safety is ensured through adequate measures.
For which reason did you choose Storm Reply as Managed Service Provider?
Moving to a new cloud provider is a labor-intensive task, which requires know-how and experience. Even though the know-how and expertise are present at Exom Group, support with human resources was highly important in this project as time was a critical issue. One of the essential aspects for Exom when selecting partners has always been an extensive experience in their respective fields. Storm has been able to score in this regard related to AWS by many satisfied customers.
Which added value did you experienced in these first months of collaboration?
Storm helped Exom optimize and improve existing services and their microservices paradigm.
Exom Group EKS – Infrastructure Simplified Architecture
THE AWS IMPLEMENTED SOLUTIONS
Storm Reply has added, on the top of the AWS layer, its know-how and proven competency in the field of Cloud Security and MSP. The infrastructure is monitored h24x7, exploiting Amazon CloudWatch, which collects either more traditional EC2 server KPIs and container framework metrics on Amazon EKS too. In addition, it integrates with a dedicated service for system log collection.
The monitoring system is connected with one of Storm Reply’s most advanced Incident Response services, PagerDuty, and overviewed by the Storm Reply’s DevOps team.
The development Pipeline configuration, exploiting the AWS CodePipeline service, has led to the definition of a fluid process, aimed at ensuring, to Exom development team, the possibility to manage autonomously pipeline application releases.
The management of Kubernetes Secrets itself, which is a critical part of the development process, is administered safely, using an innovative implementation of the Parameter Store, namely the data and password AWS management system.
Finally, the Exom platform has been configured, developed, and maintained thanks to the development framework AWS CDK (Cloud Development Kit), which provides Cloud resources in a safe and repeatable manner, exploiting the Infrastructure as Code (IaC) service: AWS CloudFormation.
MAIN BENEFITS ACHIEVED
The accomplished results fall within the field of the used approach and process simplification: thanks to EKS, Kubernetes, the container orchestrator developed by Cloud Native Computing Foundation, becomes one of AWS managed services, with significant advantages that this implies.
The high availability, expressed into the substitution of errored control plane nodes, to horizontal and vertical scalability, to the reliability and the application of security patches and on-demand upgrades, with no periods of inactivity.
For a leading company like Exom Group, which processes patient data that are very sensitive every day, data protection and encryption are fundamental requirements in transit and at rest.
Because of that, encryption is a constant which crosses the chosen services horizontally, starting from Elastic Block Storage and S3 Buckets for data storage, to the RDS data layer, subtended microservices, and to the usage of TLS/SSL protocols over the endpoints exposed to the public Internet.
In conclusion, by exploiting AWS Backup, the management of them, encrypted in transit and at rest, is centralized on the AWS Console, by simplifying the conformity controls.
Server and database