Internet security software firm Bitdefender was established in Romania in 2001. Today it has operations in 100 countries and its security technologies are used by 500 million people worldwide. The Bitdefender portfolio includes antivirus and antispyware products that help customers—both home users and corporate clients—protect their endpoint devices from online threats. Since 2001, Bitdefender has consistently produced award-winning business and consumer security technology, and is a leading security provider in virtualization and cloud technologies
Keeping up with the pace of change in the fast-moving online security market is something Bitdefender knows all about. So when it looked to deliver its enterprise product GravityZone in 2011, it wanted to move away from the constraints of physical hardware to enable its team to focus on innovation. “The idea is to allow our team to explore,” says Mugur Tigau, Technical Project Manager at Bitdefender. “To design a market-leading security product, our developers need to be free to test out new ideas. We didn’t want to spend time managing a physical infrastructure, so we looked to the cloud to enable the agility we were looking for.”
Denisa Dragomir, Product Manager at Bitdefender, continues, “We were keen to reduce manual processes and increase automation to provide the fast scalability that both Bitdefender and our customers require.”
With a global customer base to consider, the firm also needed a cloud service that would be highly available to seamlessly deliver security services worldwide.
Why Amazon Web Services
“We launched GravityZone with AWS because it was the obvious choice for us at the time—both for its portfolio and global reach,” says Tigau. “We needed to be agile because we knew that when working with millions of endpoints the requirements vary widely, even from minute to minute. It was also important that we had an infrastructure that could auto scale. We saw that we’d have these things by using AWS.”
Bitdefender uses Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), currently running a few hundred instances that handle about five terabytes of data. Elastic Load Balancing instances are used to route application traffic across multiple Availability Zones for seamless global delivery of services. “We have customers everywhere in the world,” says Tigau. “To achieve security as we do, continuous delivery is essential, regardless of where customers are, so the multiple regions and Availability Zones that AWS provides are very valuable.”
AWS Identity and Access Manager (IAM) enables Bitdefender to control user access to AWS, allowing permissions to be set for multiple accounts. Amazon CloudWatch provides the tools to closely monitor the assets that sit within an Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC).
Tigau also uses AWS Support, which he says has been instrumental in solving many technical challenges the firm has encountered. “AWS Support has given us fast responses when we’ve needed them,” he says.
By using AWS, Bitdefender has more tools to innovate. “AWS is like an extension of our desktop,” says Tigau. “Any member of the team can use AWS to start a new instance in seconds, and they have the freedom to test and explore with multiple servers and architectures. It provides an unlimited workspace for the team. As we speak, we can launch new servers to test specific functionality that we want to pass on to customers. To have this ability with near-zero waiting time—accelerating IT provisioning—is extremely valuable from a commercial perspective. There’s no question that it’s part of our ability to innovate.”
“Previously,” continues Shaun Donaldson, Director of Alliances at Bitdefender, “we had solutions hosted in physical data centers by multiple operators across regions. But this was a time-consuming and expensive business. Security is a world that changes rapidly, so the flexibility of AWS is a really good match for how we operate.” This applies not only to the provisioning of services, but also to the AWS pricing model. Donaldson says, “With AWS, we have no upfront costs; we benefit from having predictable operational expenditure. These are benefits we can pass on to our customers. Our core competency is creating security technology and AWS helps us focus on that.”
With 500 million users, a number that is increasing daily, Bitdefender needs to ensure it can bring on new customers easily. Having built and operated traditional physical infrastructures, the firm knew it was difficult to scale quickly and cost-effectively in this sort of environment. But with AWS it can provision resources almost instantly. Donaldson says, “Today, we can on-board a 10,000-endpoint customer and provide it with security within minutes. This is night and day compared to back in 2001, when we were working with hardware. AWS has allowed us to provide security as a service, so we can secure the AWS-based workloads of our customers and bill them by the hour, passing on the benefits of the flexible AWS model where you only pay for what you use.”
Tigau adds, “Dealing with big spikes in demand is one of our biggest challenges, and it’s something AWS has helped us overcome. We now have confidence in our ability to scale. For example, our GravityZone solution provides the security for 1.2 million endpoints. We know that with AWS, we’d be able to scale up to about two million endpoints overnight with no problem. This capacity to scale not only helps us provision security for new customers extremely quickly, but it also helps us expand services easily for our existing customers.”
High availability, too, is key to providing reliable services to its enterprise customers. “Over the last five years we’ve delivered our online security platform with near-zero downtime,” says Tigau. “With AWS as part of our model, we can meet our service level agreements with ease.”
“People choose Bitdefender because of the performance of our solutions and the flexibility of delivery,” adds Donaldson, “and AWS is a part of that.”
“Over the last five years we’ve delivered our online security platform with near-zero downtime. With AWS as part of our model, we can meet our service level agreements with ease.”
Mugur Tigau, Technical Project Manager