Edwards Lifesciences

AWS Migration

Edwards Lifesciences 1

Edwards Lifesciences is the global leader in patient-focused medical innovations for structural heart disease

Edwards Lifesciences had a phenomenal product and felt challenges around the IT infrastructure that supported their business. As a distributed IT organization with traditional data centers, networks, and applications; historically their investment in IT had not been good. They still had servers running – 2,003 of them, with so many layers and ad-hoc solutions built that it was difficult to determine what they had.


Healthcare & Life Sciences 


Migrate from massive server base onto AWS

Services & Tech

Cloud Infrastructure, Cloud Migration, Serverless

An aggressive migration to AWS

Edwards Lifesciences is the global leader in patient-focused medical innovations for structural heart disease as well as critical care and surgical monitoring. They are a fast-growing company, with sales close to $3 billion, 10,000+ employees, and many manufacturing locations across the world.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

It quickly became clear that Edwards Lifesciences could spend two years, do a lot of hard work, hire the top talent, and at end of the day basically get a functioning data center. Nothing that they could be proud of. Or they could go IaaS. Security, compute, and storage performance were important, as Edwards Lifesciences runs ERP, product lifecycle management, and manufacturing execution systems. The move would provide them with significantly better services, opportunities to turn things around faster, and better security at a pretty much a neutral cost once they went through the transition.

“Pick the right migration partner. We had a lot of help from Amazon and Onica to make the move… and it was a big win for us. I firmly believe we are in a significantly better place today than we would have been had we tried to take an alternative path.”
Sal Chiovari
Chief Information Officer, Edwards Lifesciences
Edwards Lifesciences 2

The ingredients for migration success were think big, start small, and act fast. Edwards Lifesciences wanted to move every piece of compute infrastructure into AWS, but they knew they had to start small so that they wouldn’t get overwhelmed. They began with a MES implementation, so that they could show success and get the team energized. With the help of Onica and AWS Storage Competency Partner CloudEndure, they put every production business-critical application into AWS within three months.


Mass Migration into AWS

The first step in the migration was getting executive management buy in. Getting the business to understand the value of moving to the cloud and making sure they were onboard was extremely important. Once they had that, the next question was how to get the team to roll forward. So, they tasked the traditional infrastructure team to get some of their test and development servers into AWS. What they got back was a constant challenge, roadblocks, and why it wouldn’t work. It was non-stop, and in fact probably for about a month, it went literally nowhere. The Edwards Lifesciences team quickly realized it could not be a community effort. They needed high-intensity and a focused and skilled team to get the migration done. They reached out to Onica to expedite their migration into AWS.

"We are in a significantly better place today than we would have been if we tried to take an alternate path. The end result is that we are poised for the future and AWS will allow us to move into much bigger environments. It’s been a very positive experience."

Edwards Lifesciences used AWS Direct Connect to aid the migration effort. They started with a VPN tunnel between their data center and AWS to get the ball rolling. They were also among one of the first users of AWS Snowball to move terabytes of their data. Edwards Lifesciences had a lot of discussions around VPC design. When they talked to AWS and Onica’s solution architecture team, it became clear that they needed to make sure there was a dev, test, and production environment within the solution. Another important part of the move was their data center applications and consolidating their Microsoft SQL Server database forums and licenses. Their SQL forum hosted a lot of applications and once they moved to AWS, the database was still there. So, they came up with the concept of a ‘move group.’ A move group was any application that had a hard dependency (i.e. a database or app server or database to database link or connection or anything that is real-time), needs to be moved together.

Convenience was another important piece of the puzzle. Edwards Lifesciences did not want to move hundreds of servers in the same weekend. Because they were FDA-regulated, they had restrictions on their operational qualifications and scripts. Testing was very formal. The most they moved in a weekend was between 50 to 75 servers. User groups were migrated together, tested, and went live. Because they didn’t have a good server inventory or configuration management database (CMDB), servers were migrated based on an Excel export from Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM), which has now been accurately tagged in AWS for more transparency into their AWS spend. Edwards Lifesciences took care to clean up and in some cases upgrade or parch out the servers they moved. During the migration, the communications piece was important for both internal and external teams within the business. It impacted everyone and was a big change.

Edwards Lifesciences has now moved everything into AWS. There are no longer production systems sitting in their old environment. They are continuing to refine the process of how they operate in AWS and it’s going very well. They are not having the same type of issues they had in their data center. In fact, even employee morale is up – both from the business and internal teams. Internal IT wants to be part of it and since they have seen success, they appreciate it and understand the business value. From a business standpoint, response time and reliability is up, and the fact that they no longer have to send out another email saying systems are down is huge, and is also a result of their ongoing engagement with Onica for Managed Services. Edwards Lifesciences had some big initiatives this last year that were publicized heavily across the organization and to be able to say that they were successfully delivered, and that Amazon and Onica were a big part of it, was a big win.