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2022 Blog, Blog, Featured

Software architecture provides a high-level overview of what a software system looks like. At the very minimum, it shows the various logical pieces of the overall solution and the interaction between those pieces. (See C4 Model for architecture diagramming). The software architecture is like a map of the terrain for anybody who must deal with the system. Contrary to what many might think, software architecture is important even for non-engineering functions like sales, as many customers like to review the architecture to see how well it fits within their enterprise and whether it could introduce future issues by its adoption.


Goals of the Architecture
It is important to determine the goals for the system when deciding on the architecture. This should include both short-term and long-term goals.

Some of our important goals for RLCatalyst Research Gateway are:
1. Ease of Use
The basic question in our mind is always “How would customers like to use this system?”. Our product is targeted to researchers and academics who want to use the scalability and elasticity of the AWS cloud for ad-hoc and high-performance computing needs. These users are not experts at using the AWS console. So, we made things extremely simple for the user. Researchers can order products with a single click, and the portal sets up their resources without the user needing to understand any of the underlying complexities. Users can also interact with the products through the portal, eliminating the need to set up anything outside the portal (though they always have that option).

We also kept in mind the administrators of the system for whom this might just be one amongst many others that they must manage. Thus, we made it easy for the administrator to add AWS accounts, create Organizational Units, and integrated Identity Providers. Our goals were: administrators to get the system up and running in less than 30 minutes.

2. Scalability, performance, and reliability
We followed the best practices recommended by AWS, and where possible, used standardized architecture models so that users would find it easy as well as familiar. For example, we deploy our system into a VPC with public and private subnets. The subnets are spread across multiple Availability Zones to guard against the possibility of one availability zone going down. The computing instances are deployed in the private subnet to prevent unauthorized access. We also use auto-scaling groups for the system to be able to pull in additional compute instances when the load is higher.

3. What is the time to market?
One of our main goals was to be able to bring the product to market quickly and put it in front of the customers to gain early and valuable feedback. Developing the product as a partner of AWS was a great help since we were able to use many AWS services for some of the common application needs without spending time in developing our own components for well known use-cases. For example, RLCatalyst Research Gateway does its user management via AWS Cognito, which provides the facility to create users, roles, and groups as well as the ability to interface with other Identity Provider systems.

Similarly, we use AWS DocumentDB (with MongoDB API compatibility) as our database. This allows developers to use a local MongoDB instance, while QA and production systems use AWS DocumentDB with high availability of multi-AZ clusters, automated backups via AWS Backup and Snapshots.

4. Cost efficiency
This is one of the key concerns for every administrator. RLCatalyst Research Gateway uses a scalable architecture that not only lets the system scale up when the load is high but also scales down when the load is less to optimize on the cost. We use EKS clusters to deploy our solution and AWS DocumentDB clusters. This allows us to choose the size and instance type according to the cost considerations.

We have also brought in features like the automatic shutdown of resources so that idle compute instances, which are not running any jobs, can shut down after a 15-minute idle time. Additionally, even resources like ALBs are de-provisioned when the last compute instance behind them is de-provisioned.

We provide a robust cost governance dashboard, allowing users insights into their usage and budget consumption.

5. Security
Our target customers are in the research and scientific computing area, where data security is a key concern. We are frequently asked, “Will the system be secure? Can it help me meet regulatory requirements and compliances?”. RLCatalyst Research Gateway architecture is developed with security in mind at each level. The use of SSL certificates, encryption of data at rest, and the ability to initiate action at a distance are some of the architecture considerations.

Map of AWS Services

AWS Service Purpose Benefits
Amazon EC2, Auto-scaling Elastic Compute Provides easily managed compute resources without need to manage hardware. Integrates well with Infrastructure as Code (IaC)
Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) Networking Provides isolation of resources, easy management of traffic, isolation of traffic.
Application Load Balancer, AWS Certificate Manager Load-balancer, Secure end-point Provides an easy way to provide a single end-point which can route traffic to multiple target groups. Integrates with AWS Certificate manager to provide SSL support.
AWS CostExplorer, AWS Budgets Cost and Governance Provides fine-grained cost and usage data. Notifications when budget thresholds are reached.
AWS Service Catalog Catalog of approved IT Services on AWS Provides control on what resources can be used in an AWS account.
AWS WAF (Web Application Firewall) Application Firewall Helps manage malicious traffic
Amazon Route53 DNS (Domain Name System) Services Provides hosted zones and API access to manage the same.
Amazon Cloudfront CDN (Content Delivery Network) Caches content closest to end-users to reduce latency and improve customer experience.
AWS Cognito User Management Authentication and authorization
AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) Identity Management Provides support for granular control based on policies and roles.
AWS DocumentDb NoSQL database MongoDB compatible API


Validation of the Solution
It is always good to validate your solution with an external review from the experts. AWS offers such an opportunity to all its partners by way of the AWS Foundational Technical Review. The review is valid for two years and is free of cost to partners. Looking at our design through the FTR Lens enabled us to see where our design could get better in terms of using the best practices (especially in the areas of security and cost-efficiency). Once these changes were implemented, we earned the “Reviewed by AWS” badge.

Summary
Relevance Lab developed the RLCatalyst Research Gateway in close partnership with AWS. One of the excellent tools available from AWS for any software architecture team is the AWS Well-Architected Framework with its five pillars of Operational Excellence, Security, Reliability, Performance Efficiency, and Cost Efficiency. Working within this framework greatly facilitates the development of a robust architecture that serves not only current but also future goals.

To know more about RLCatalyst Research Gateway architecture, feel free to write to marketing@relevancelab.com.

References
How to speed up the GEOS-Chem Earth Science Research using AWS Cloud?
Driving Frictionless Scientific Research on AWS Cloud
Leveraging AWS HPC for Accelerating Scientific Research on Cloud
Health Informatics and Genomics on AWS with RLCatalyst Research Gateway
Enabling Researchers with Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS) Leveraging Nextflow and AWS
8-Steps to Set-Up RLCatalyst Research Gateway



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2022 Blog, AWS Platform, Blog, Featured

Relevance Lab has been an AWS partner for almost a decade now. The primary transition in 2021 was moving from a pure consulting partner to a niche technology partner of AWS based on the strengths of two new ISV Product launches with RLCatalyst Research Gateway and RLCatalyst AppInsights.


  • RLCatalyst Research Gateway drives scientific research in AWS cloud, especially for Genomic Research and Analytics
  • RLCatalyst AppInsights is built on AWS Service Catalog AppRegistry and helps achieve an “Application-Centric” view for cloud assets, costs, health, and security to achieve Governance360

Customers have been demanding a “Solutions” approach from their partners that combine the strength of Products (own + third party) and Services to provide a unique business solution that removes friction and helps deliver key value. This is only possible by unifying the strength of Products + Services to create platform-based offerings delivered with a unique playbook for driving digital transformation.

The top-5 trends we observed in last one year regarding customer needs for cloud adoption are the following:


  • Cloud Adoption Acceleration
    • “Cloud Only” adoption to accelerate momentum of transitioning all internal systems, applications, and services to IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS solutions with an automation-first approach
  • DevOps Automation Led Operations
    • Critical focus on AIOps to ensure digital business operations are proactively managed with best practices on operations with Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) and DevOps, leveraging ServiceNow platform
  • Frictionless Digital Workflows and Business Interactions
    • End-to-end business process integration with applications across self-developed products, PaaS platforms, and third-party SaaS solutions covering Shopify, Adobe Experience Manager, Demandware, Oracle Fusion, SOA/API Gateways, etc.
  • Cloud Data Lakes and Actionable Intelligence
    • Focus on agile business analytics with use of cloud-based data platforms leveraging Snowflake, Databricks, Azure Data Factory, AWS Data Lakes, etc., and integration with AI/ML tools with Sagemaker and RStudio
  • Security, Compliance, and Cost Management with focus on Governance360
    • Critical focus on security, governance, and cost optimization with a proactive model driven by a strong automation foundation

In this blog, we will primarily cover the strategic AWS partnership achievements of our products and solutions leveraged to help our customers use cloud “The Right Way”. The business benefits of this automation and platform led approach helped some of the key customers achieve significant outcomes, as explained below:


  • Speeded up product delivery cycles by 3x leveraging Agile + DevOps approach for Product Engineering and Application Migrations
  • Cut down cloud cost spending by 30% with better capacity utilization and effective cloud costs tracking at a granular level of business units, applications, customer usage patterns, and transaction costs optimization
  • Leveraging Automated Service Management achieved 70% handling of inbound tickets by smart BOTs using our product and RPA tools creating an Automation Factory
  • Proactive security and vulnerability management reducing the cost of compliance and reduced outages by 30%
  • Focus on effective data management and analytics with more real-time insights to business transactions and actionable intelligence leading to savings in excess of $300K annually for large supply chain use cases

Leveraging AWS cloud is a foundation enabler for all Relevance Lab products and solutions. The diagram below shows a high level overview of our AWS Ecosystem coverage.


The journey snapshot of the last 12 months is captured in the diagram below.


Relevance Lab and AWS Journey Highlights
To recap our key progress for this year, we are presenting a quick brief of the last 12 months in reverse chronological order.


  • December
    • Solid partnership with AWS APJ teams for go-to-market in the region for scientific research with RLCatalyst Research Gateway. There is a strong endorsement from AWS business teams and Solution Architects on RL solutions being a relevant offering for regional needs
    • Launch of Cloud Academy to train a new batch of people based on a platform-led model for the ability to rapidly create a large and competent workforce for cloud opportunities
    • CoE (Center of Excellence) teams pursuing new use cases High-Performance Computing (large and growing ecosystem) and AppStream-based training labs for education customers.
    • AppInsights product on ServiceNow emerging as a brand new product conceptualized and launched in 2021 with joint efforts with AWS Control Services group
  • November
    • Relevance Lab’s focus on addressing the Digital Transformation jigsaw puzzle with RLCatalyst and SPECTRA Platforms
    • ServiceOne and RLCatalyst Intelligent Automation Reference Architecture
    • SPECTRA Reference Architecture for agile analytics applications
    • Relevance Lab Hyperautomation approach to business optimization
    • Relevance Lab Service Maturity Model
  • October
    • Taking AWS cloud & ServiceNow solutions to multiple new prospects interested in understanding our offering across cloud management, automation, DevOps, and AIOps managed services
    • Showcasing RLCatalyst Research Gateway solutions to multiple public sector institutions, non-profit research centers, and health care providers
  • September
    • Key tracks of RL Cloud CoE covering Cloud Management, Automation, DevOps and AIOps shared
    • Summary of 10 year journey for RL Company and Product lifecycle shared
    • Launch of MyResearchCloud, An easy way to enable small and mid-sized customers to use the RLCatalyst Research Gateway SaaS product using “Bring Your Own Account”
    • RLCatalyst AppInsights launched on ServiceNow Store
  • August
    • RLCatalyst Platform, Solutions and Products consolidated offering for automation published
    • Automation-First approach for Plan-Build-Run of cloud adoption detailed
    • Maturity model for BOTs design published
    • RLCatalyst Genomics Pipeline work with Nextflow started
  • June-July
    • Joint efforts for the co-development on the open-source solutions for scientific research in cloud that emphasize on Health Informatics and Genomic processing space using RStudio
    • RLCatalyst Research Gateway solution has been reviewed and approved for ISV Path – a special program exclusively meant for the Independent Software Vendor (ISV) capabilities
    • Listing of Relevance Lab products and professional services on AWS Marketplace, which includes RLCatalyst Research Gateway SaaS and Governance360 solution built on AWS Control Tower
    • Selection of the AppInsights ServiceNow solution as the partner-built solution for AWS AppRegistry
    • Partnership with a specialist HIPAA governance solution provider for integrations into our Governance360 solution
    • Collaborating with the AWS recent solution announcement teams driving AWS Management and Governance Lens (part of AWS Well-Architected Framework prescribed offering)
  • May
    • RLCatalyst Research Gateway “test drive” by the first prospect with useful inputs to make the onboarding process much simpler and frictionless. Expectation to go from “No-Cloud” to “Full-cloud” experience for scientific researchers in less than 15 min (Uber-style)
    • Relevance Lab enters the elite AWS Service Delivery Program for niche partners for AWS Service Catalog
    • Relevance Lab SmartView, built on AWS AppRegistry new concept for dynamic application CMDB, getting significant appreciation and visibility from AWS Management and Governance teams
    • Ongoing co-development and collaboration with AWS Service Workbench groups to scale up RStudio on AWS Cloud with shared AWS ALB (Application Load Balancer) architecture
  • April
    • RLCatalyst Research Gateway common use cases implementation
    • “Automation-First” model for Cloud adoption elaborated
    • Common use cases for Cloud migration with focus on Application Migration
    • Original concept of SmartView Solution (later renamed AppInsights) for Application CMDB created.
  • March
    • “Automation-First” approach to use AWS cloud “The Right Way” detailed
    • Common use cases for scientific research published
    • AWS ISV Partner Path program adoption initiated
  • February
    • Research@Scale Architecture Blueprint created for an integrated offering combining strengths of Relevance Lab product, solutions and services
    • Conceptualizing Governance360 Solution built with AWS Control Tower customization framework
    • Started evaluation of AWS Service Workbench with BioInformatics Blueprint, RStudio, Sagemaker
    • ServiceOne Transition Blueprint created
  • January
    • Relevance Lab RLCatalyst Research Gateway product positioning in market with focus on “Blue Ocean Strategy” shared to create a niche offering
    • RLCatalyst Research Gateway launched as a SaaS product on AWS Marketplace
    • ServiceOne team worked on the Compliance as a Code Framework involving AWS Control Tower

RLCatalyst – Our Platform through 2021


ServiceOne: Our Cloud CoE Stories in 2021


Partnership Journey through Blogs, Webinar & Videos in 2021

It was a busy year at Relevance Lab. We published a number of blogs covering our solutions powered by our partnership with AWS. The following is a collection of blogs published on our website throughout the year:

Product Related



List of product knowledge videos on our YouTube channel.

Solutions and Consulting Related



We have also published blogs listed below on APN blog network in collaboration with AWS teams.



In addition, we successfully conducted a webinar with AWS and Dash Solutions. You can watch the recording here and download the presentation pdf here.

Summary
With the start of the new year 2022, we are very bullish about leveraging our AWS cloud Products and Solutions that help in driving Frictionless Business for our customers. There are 100000+ AWS Partners in the ecosystem worldwide, but Relevance Lab has created a unique differentiator and positioning leveraging the power of our IP Products as a key technology provider to complement our deep services competencies that are leading to tremendous momentum on new customer solutions.

Customers are continuing to face challenges with their business and supply chains in the pandemic era, and new business models are emerging that demand a new level of Agility + Automation. At Relevance Lab, we are constantly enhancing our offerings to help our customers navigate the Digital Transformation Puzzle and provide a unique value proposition with our global workforce across regions, critical investments in our IP platforms, and constant efforts on building deep competencies across cloud, data, and digital platforms.

To learn more about our cloud products, services and solutions, feel free to contact us at marketing@relevancelab.com.



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