For global pharmaceuticals companies, bringing new medicines to market requires more than just research, manufacturing and logistics expertise — it also poses enormous regulatory challenges.
To create the next life-changing drug, you need to conduct large-scale clinical trials in multiple markets. You have to ensure brilliant researchers around the world can collaborate seamlessly. That means you need a reliable, robust data infrastructure that can share huge volumes of potentially sensitive data — and a rigorous approach to data security and governance to comply with complex regulations in each country.
For one Hitachi Vantara client — a global pharma giant — pivoting into the public cloud with services from Amazon Web Services (AWS) seemed like the best way to achieve this combination of flexibility and security. But there was a catch. With more than 300 tightly coupled applications to support and a complex set of business rules governing which types of data could be transferred between regions, the company began to run into problems. Issues with security certificates and an underperforming API gateway often meant that applications couldn’t connect to each other reliably. And network design constraints led to bottlenecks, obstructing the flow of data between AWS regions and putting additional stress on the company’s on-premises network infrastructure.
With Hitachi Vantara’s help, the company resolved critical operational issues. App availability is up from 74 to 99.99% and response times are down 80%, resulting in $1.5M annual direct savings across their three main AWS regions.
The company decided to partner with Hitachi Vantara to establish a Hitachi Application Reliability Center (HARC). As a center of excellence for cloud engineering, HARC brings Hitachi cloud experts and methodologies designed to maximize the value of the company’s public cloud investments.
The HARC team began by solving the application integration problems. They redesigned the cloud infrastructure supporting the API gateway to align with the AWS Well-Architected Framework, introducing AWS App Mesh to significantly increase scalability and performance.
The team also used AWS Key Management Service to create a new central certificate authority, which all applications now use to provision their security certificates automatically. This eliminates the need for manual certificate updates, saving time and avoiding the risk of outages due to expired certificates.
Finally, for an extra layer of resilience, the team added an automatic disaster recovery capability. Now, if the primary API gateway stops responding or fails a health check, Amazon Route 53 immediately starts forwarding requests to a second gateway running at another data center — ensuring uninterrupted service.
With the integration issues resolved, the HARC team addressed network performance. With the existing network design, whenever data was transferred between regions, it had to be transmitted via the company’s wide area network (WAN), which was configured to prevent certain types of data from being transmitted for compliance reasons. When sending large amounts data from one AWS region to another, this diversion via the WAN was slow, expensive and impacted the performance of the company’s other applications.
The HARC team redesigned the network to create a solution that enabled applications running in AWS in Europe and North America to communicate directly via the AWS network backbone — while still maintaining the level of control required to prevent sensitive data from moving between regions. This not only simplifies the network architecture significantly — it also makes it massively more scalable by switching from physical network devices to virtual machines that can spin up or down dynamically as traffic volumes fluctuate.
With the help of Hitachi Vantara, the company resolved the critical issues that were impacting its operations, ensuring smooth and reliable services. Its applications can now connect and communicate seamlessly via the API gateway without security certificate or scalability issues. As a result, availability has increased by more than 26 percentage points to 99.99%, and application response times have been reduced by 80%. These improvements have also unlocked direct cost savings of $1.5 million per year across the company’s three main AWS regions in Europe, North America and China.
Similarly, the network reengineering project has transformed the performance of inter-region data transfers. Maximum throughput has increased by a factor of 40, from 1.25 Gbps to 50 Gbps. And the shift to using the AWS network backbone has relieved pressure on the company’s own WAN, contributing to significantly improved performance for applications hosted outside the AWS environment too.
Now, the company is maximizing value from its AWS investments. Together, the company and Hitachi are now drawing up a roadmap for future projects to optimize the company’s use of public cloud solutions even further.
A resilient API gateway architecture lets applications share data seamlessly.
Increase in network throughput
Transferring data via the AWS network backbone boosts speed and reliability.
Annual savings across three regions
Greater resilience boosts productivity while a simpler architecture cuts costs.
Multinational Pharmaceutical Corporation
This Hitachi client is one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies. With operations in Europe, the Americas, Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa, the company develops and manufactures both innovative and generic medicines, employs hundreds of thousands of people, and generates tens of billions of dollars in revenues every year.
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