OmniStar

Grants. Ethics. Research. Reimagined

About OmniStar

OmniStar is an industry leading, best practice, cloud-based grants, ethics and research management platform. It automates administration processes, soothes pain points and develops new insight and potent processes in organisations that make or receive grants, conduct or support research, or have an ethics focus.

OmniStar is a purpose built, state of the art, software-as-a-service platform incorporating the very latest principles, practices and standards for grants, ethics and research management. It has been developed over more than a decade of consultation with many of Australia’s leading research and grants institutions and now powers such institutions as the NHMRC

What was the challenge?

F1 Solutions had always invested heavily in servers and hardware to support its SaaS solution OmniStar. Over the years this investment continued to increase as the company and clientele expanded. The existing solution was operated from a Tier 1 data centre and achieved IRAP compliance that satisfied Australian Government security standards.

When the hardware was reaching an end of life milestone and its ability to satisfy requirements neared capacity, it was an opportune time to revisit the server, hardware and hosting strategy in relation to providing F1 Solutions’ SaaS and software development capabilities.

The challenge was to meet the following requirements of the solution:

  • Adopt a scalable yet flexible growth platform to meet the changing needs of the organisation and its rapidly growing customer base.
    1. 25,000 projects
    2. 35,000 applications
    3. 190,000 documents
    4. 40,000 users
  • Compatibility with ePPMS, RDS private cloud and other SaaS products.
  • Comply with ISM & ASD guidelines including data sovereignty, ensuring IRAP compliance is maintained.
  • Cost efficiency and, if possible, cost neutral with the current solution excluding any transition costs.

A complete solution

In considering a cloud platform, a review of AWS and Azure was performed. Both Microsoft and Amazon were engaged to discuss the platforms and the intended use case. Amazon architects performed a complete review of the designs, including a health check and best practice scorecard.

F1 Solutions ultimately determined AWS was the best choice to establish a long-term partnership based on multiple factors, including AWS being the industry-leading cloud services provider.

The design of the new AWS environment was carefully considered, with input from F1 Solutions AWS certified engineers and AWS architects. A considered decision was made to avoid a simple lift and shift and instead take advantage of the services the new cloud platform had to offer. As a result, changes were made to the application and infrastructure that included use of S3 for storage, SES for sending email, integration with SNS and SQS, changes to the application release process to take advantage of blue/green style deployments, in addition to other changes to work with load balancing and publishing of web applications in AWS.

Application environments were deployed entirely using infrastructure-as-code, which allowed the replication of production environments identically, and rapidly for other environments such as development integration, test and user acceptance testing. Separate management and other environments were provisioned in a similar fashion where appropriate to house core services such as logging and authentication.

At a high level, the following activities were performed as a part of the project:

Complete provisioning of development, quality assurance, user acceptance testing, training and production environments using infrastructure-as-code

Integration of appropriate application components with AWS services such as replacement of file shared- based storage with Amazon S3, & managed SMTP servers with Amazon SES, use of Amazon SNS and SQS with third party systems

Implementation of auto scaling within AWS EC2 for dynamic web server scaling

Compliance and assessment of ISM guidelines via an independent IRAP assessor

Enhancements to the automated software deployment process

The benefits for OmniStar

In a space of eight months from deciding to consider a new platform to cutting over all existing production services to AWS, F1 Solutions achieved significant results, most notably, moving from a previously constrained environment to a web-scale environment. This enabled scalability, availability and disaster recovery at a level not previously possible.

Since the completion of the project, F1 Solutions have continued to invest in AWS by increasing their usage of AWS services, certifying additional staff and updating the application to take advantage of existing and new services, e.g. Amazon Elastic Transcoder, Amazon Comprehend and Amazon Textract.

The solution provided F1 Solutions with a number of benefits including:

Scalability

Faster scaling of applications to cope with spike in application usage

Dramatically enhanced security

From user error to cyber attacks, threats facing OmniStar were mitigated as systems were secured, backed up and actively managed

Increased performance

Increased flexibility and performance by providing great options to integrate with existing customers' legacy systems using SQS, SNS and S3.

Cost efficiencies

Greater return on investment by providing increased services and capabilities at the same cost as traditional datacentre hosting-based approach


“If the previous three industrial revolutions have taught us anything, it is that organisations must evolve or perish. F1 Solutions’ evolution to AWS was a fundamental growth and transformation strategy”

Gustad Boman
CEO, OmniStar

Regulatory compliance

Increased compliance with ISM and ASD guidelines.

Lower Overheads

Reduced maintenance and administrative overhead.


“If the previous three industrial revolutions have taught us anything, it is that organisations must evolve or perish. F1 Solutions’ evolution to AWS was a fundamental growth and transformation strategy”

Gustad Boman
CEO, OmniStar

The benefits for OmniStar

In a space of eight months from deciding to consider a new platform to cutting over all existing production services to AWS, F1 Solutions achieved significant results, most notably, moving from a previously constrained environment to a web-scale environment. This enabled scalability, availability and disaster recovery at a level not previously possible. The solution provided F1 Solutions with a number of benefits including:


“If the previous three industrial revolutions have taught us anything, it is that organisations must evolve or perish. F1 Solutions’ evolution to AWS was a fundamental growth and transformation strategy”

Gustad Boman
CEO, OmniStar

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