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Wilbur-Ellis uses Options I/O Cloud Marketplace & Alert Logic’s Cloud Defender to protect their AWS Cloud Environment.

wilbur-ellisFounded in 1921, Wilbur-Ellis is a leading international marketer and distributor of agricultural products, animal feed and specialty chemicals and ingredients. Wilbur-Ellis’ operating divisions include a wide range of products and services For instance, in the United States, their agriculture division sells crop inputs to farmers. Another division markets and distributes animal feed to North America and Asia Pacific. Their oldest division distributes specialty chemicals and ingredients throughout 18 countries in Asia.

Wilbur-Ellis now has 250 locations worldwide. They have experienced strong annual growth and are now a $3.1 billion dollar organization that ranks on Forbes’ list of America’s Largest Private Companies. With their massive growth came complexities and challenges, particularly for their Information Technology department. With a company dynamic fueled by rapid growth, the Wilbur-Ellis IT department set out to do more with their existing resources. Having multiple business units, and diverse mobile technologies means they needed to simplify and optimize their IT infrastructure while ensuring security across the enterprise.

In this success story, Rick Cahoon, Director Enterprise Security and Support, discusses his experience in driving the right strategy, lessons learned by Wilbur-Ellis, and the benefits received from leveraging the Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud platform and Alert Logic solutions.

“CLOUD FIRST” PHILOSOPHY

About 15 years ago, the decision was made to make the company more of a holistically profitable enterprise versus a series of successful independent locations. Wilbur-Ellis envisioned their organization progressing with technology well before it happened. When it was time to build an agile infrastructure to support their customer facing application called “AgVerdict,” they knew they needed to build upon a scalable cloud platform. They chose AWS and the engineering precision of Options I/O to build a security footprint in that infrastructure. Options I/O, a partner to Alert Logic, is a cloud marketplace and consulting company which specializes in AWS technology.

Wilbur-Ellis has a “cloud first” philosophy which helped the AgVerdict implementation to be quick and successful. “Our ‘cloud first’ philosophy says that any net new application Wilbur-Ellis adopts will be analyzed for optimization in the cloud and for AgVerdict, AWS was the best fit. If it makes sense—which it usually does—we put the application in the cloud.” Now, Wilbur-Ellis uses the most popular cloud applications for all their Human Resources, Sales, IT procurement and many other applications. An example of this is their recent conversion to Microsoft Office 365 that includes all of their SharePoint components.

Also driving change for Wilbur-Ellis is the fact that the agriculture industry, as a whole, is going through a technological revolution by adding diverse mobile devices as part of the success metric for growing higher yielding and quality crops. As a result, iPads, smart phones, GPSs, and drones are now all part of the day-to-day operations at Wilbur-Ellis.

Their “cloud first” philosophy has also resulted in pushing their network perimeter out further than ever. The new perimeter implied greater risks and fueled the question of how Wilbur-Ellis will be able to be aware of what is going on in their network and AWS environment. Any answer other than a definitive “yes” would mean gambling with a data breach and the trust of fiercely loyal clients. The company was not willing to put the 94-year-old Wilbur-Ellis reputation on the line. They needed solid security solutions and expertise for AWS.

SELECTING IN-DEPTH SECURITY-AS-A-SERVICE

Wilbur-Ellis looked at their entire set of security solutions and focused first on log analysis and web application security. “I think there are certain pieces to a security program that are foundational upon which to build. A big step to getting on the path of developing a comprehensive security strategy took place when we implemented a next generation firewall. At that point, it was clear we needed to go beyond password and perimeter security,” explained Cahoon.

They also realized that when they saw unusual activity on the firewall, they really had no way to practically look at what was happening on servers or devices within their infrastructure. Since logs expire very quickly and there was no correlation, it was problematic to get data intelligence across their network. With their previous tool, they were unable to scale their manpower to determine when an issue started, who started it, or whether it occurred at the server or application level.

Alert Logic was one of several solutions tested and Alert Logic® Cloud Defender™ was the clear leader. Wilbur-Ellis found that Alert Logic competitors were unnecessarily complex and far too costly to even compete. According to Cahoon, they were able to set up the Alert Logic solution quickly without issues. The solution allowed them to create alerts and nightly reports and keep an eye on key areas of their network. Cahoon’s team receives those reports from Alert Logic via email first thing every morning. By having Cloud Defender in place, Wilbur-Ellis has threat detection, vulnerability scanning, log management and web application protection that bolster their security posture.

Cahoon pointed out that, while the products provide tremendous value, it is the Alert Logic® ActiveIntelligence™ and Alert Logic® ActiveWatch™ teams and services that bring it all together for them. “The ActiveWatch analysts correlate events they see within our environment to show us when there may be something we need to act upon. The great time saver for Wilbur-Ellis is that we do not have to look at every incident and event all day, every day thanks to Alert Logic’s ActiveIntelligence and ActiveWatch teams.”

If an ActiveWatch analyst recommends taking action on specific incidents or events, the Wilbur-Ellis team will take appropriate steps such as having their help desk address endpoint remediation or investigate specific user activity. With threat analysis and aggregation by Alert Logic, they do not have to waste time on investigating false positives. Instead, they are delivered insight only into specific events that truly matter, thereby keeping Wilbur-Ellis protected and giving their IT department time to focus on other key projects.

CHOOSING ALERT LOGIC TO SECURE THEIR DYNAMIC INFRASTRUCTURE

Rick Cahoon recommends Alert Logic to organizations looking for cost effective Security-as-Service, whether in the cloud or on-premises or in a hybrid environment.

SIMPLIFIED LOG MANAGEMENT With Alert Logic automated log collection, aggregation, and normalization of logs across entire environments, organizations save time and money and reduce complexity. Along with simplified log management, Alert Logic provides scalable real-time log collection with 90-day and 1-year data retention to accommodate your growing and changing environment. With Alert Logic delivered as-a-Service, organizations like Wilbur-Ellis do not have to focus on managing the storage, compute, and software required for 24×7 availability.

MANAGED THREAT DETECTION Alert Logic Security-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions combine advanced technology and security expertise to deliver the features, security content, and actionable intelligence that organizations need to uncover and remediate active threats that are affecting their environments.

MANAGED SECURITY With managed security, Wilbur-Ellis gets expert recommendations from the Alert Logic Security Operations Center 24×7. Alert Logic security analysts ensure they have the support they need to react to any incidents through Alert Logic Log Manager, Alert Logic Threat Manager or Alert Logic Web Security Manager.

NATIVE PUBLIC CLOUD SECURITY The Alert Logic SaaS delivery model makes it easy to get up and running quickly. All Alert Logic solutions are purpose-built to secure environments where they reside and protect cloud environments, unlike competing solutions that are retrofitted to work in AWS.

KNOWLEDGE-BASED SECURITY

With Alert Logic Threat Manager, Alert Logic Log Manager and Alert Logic Web Security Manager (Cloud Defender), Wilbur-Ellis now knows why the data that flows across their network is there and where it’s going. “Before we had Alert Logic, all we would know is that people are logging in and doing things on our network. Alert Logic brings it all together for us to a single interface by analyzing and aggregating events for us. This knowledge-based security model allows us to prioritize what we work on when,” said Cahoon.

This strengthened security position for Wilbur-Ellis demonstrates their unrelenting commitment to their customers. Even though their technology continues to develop and evolve, face-to-face interaction with their clients remains. The majority of their customers are family-run farming businesses throughout the US and Canada. Wilbur-Ellis is also a familyowned privately held company, and as a result, they are very focused on customer loyalty. With Alert Logic, Wilbur-Ellis can now layer in security controls precisely where they are needed to ensure they are following best practices in security and compliance.

When we asked Cahoon if he would recommend Alert Logic to colleagues, he stated, “Yes, wherever our people are standing is where we need protection. With Alert Logic we have that in place. If an organization wants what we do, a cost effective solution that provides the security intelligence you need to protect your environment, they need Alert Logic.”

To access the full case study you can click here.

DevOps & Security, Santa Monica, CA Partner Event

We hosted an event recently with Alert Logic, Amazon Web Services, Chef, Coalfire and DualSpark at the AWS offices in Santa Monica, CA.  During this event we shared presentations around how companies are taking the advantage of DevOps tools like Chef on AWS but also ensuring that they are properly instrumenting security solutions like Alert Logic in the mix to stay secure and compliant.  The team at DualSpark put together a fantastic Blog article with code samples and examples of the technical discussion.

In addition to the presentations, we had an expert panel including clients like Mark Estes from Emdeon that talked about their own journey to enabling security and compliance for their AWS projects.  We also talked through how organizations that are currently using AWS can help enhance security and compliance for their own clients and partners that are at different stages of their AWS journey.  We look forward to doing additional sessions in Seattle, Bay Area, Portland, OR and Denver this year.  Please contact us if you would like us to host a custom session for your cloud teams or get on our waiting lists for future events.

 

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Impinj AWS Disaster Recovery case study with CloudVelox

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Impinj Reduces Disaster Recovery (DR) Costs using Amazon Web Services

Impinj, a company of 160 employees based in scenic Seattle, WA, is the leading provider of RAIN RFID solutions. The Impinj platform comprises the world’s most comprehensive and widely adopted RAIN RFID product set, including tag chips, reader chips, fixed readers and portals, software and innovations that support complete solutions across retail, pharmaceutical, healthcare, food and beverage and other industries.  Senior IT Director Morgan Van Wely leads the IT department at Impinj. The department is comprised of an Infrastructure and Operations team, a Business Applications team, and a DevOps team with a staff of eight.

Secondary DR Site was Costly and Cumbersome

In addition to the Seattle data center Impinj maintained a secondary data center in another state for disaster recovery. A significant portion of the IT budget was spent on the DR site, yet testing at the secondary site was labor-intensive and risk-prone. So the systems in the secondary site were rarely tested and not trusted to function in the event of an outage at the primary site. As primary production infrastructure was reaching capacity and end of life, Van Wely wanted to bring products to market faster. Growth was increasing and IT had been a bottleneck when it came to product development.ImpinjAWSOptionsIO

 

Options I/O and CloudVelox Propose Automated Cloud DR

Impinj engaged AWS consulting partner Options I/O Cloud Marketplace to explore the use of cloud IaaS to reduce costs and increase trust in its DR environment, especially for mission critical applications. Options I/O Cloud Marketplace recommended using Amazon Web Services (AWS) and best of breed automated cloud DR software from CloudVelox after extensive engineering testing and feedback from other AWS clients.

“Given our goals, we found ourselves looking at a relatively short list of vendors that had cloud-based disaster recovery solutions that were aligned with our environment,” commented Van Wely. “Reviewing feature sets, ease of use, and cost, CloudVelox was the clear winner.”

Impinj Cloud DR Objectives

After an initial briefing the team established multiple objectives for the cloud DR project. The Impinj team sought to make their IT infrastructure more scalable and reliable to support rapid growth. CAPEX and OPEX reduction and increasing organization agility were also key to Van Wely’s objectives, as was a granular monthly test plan with non-invasive dry runs.  RTO and RPO reduction were also important objectives.

Proof of Concept led to Success

“The proof of concept was a great success,” Van Wely added. “We were able to use the work done in the PoC in production mode, and simply add the rest of the servers on our list to the DR strategy in a matter of hours.” During the proof of concept Impinj then easily deployed its mission critical apps and related services on AWS in EBS storage volumes. Those workloads were then ignited from storage volumes into production with the push of a button.  Several tests were conducted within a few weeks and the secondary data center was shuttered for cloud DR on AWS. “The initiative was completed from start to finish by a team of two internal IT engineers,” per Van Wely.

Mission Accomplished

Impinj was able to avoid $100k in additional capital expenses required for the secondary data center and improved on their RPO and RTO goals. Monthly testing was put into place; something considered impractical for the remote data center.  With the CloudVelox platform Impinj was also able to use AWS for Dev/Test and other new use cases. All business objectives were met and benefits beyond the objectives were obtained. “CloudVelox saved us money where it mattered and gave us a business continuity solution that is easy to use and, maybe more importantly, easy to trust.”

To access the full case study, click here.

ChefConf 2015 – Partner Program

At ChefConf 2015Chef, a leader in automation for DevOps, announced a Partner Certification Program, which empowers Chef’s growing ecosystem of technology and services providers with Chef engineering and go-to-market resources. The program also includes extensive training to certify Chef partners for supporting Chef deployments within their customer bases.  Options I/O Cloud Marketplace is proud to highlight that our partners at Cascadeo were in the initial certified partner category from Chef.  Having partners like Cascadeo featured by Chef provides one more level of recognition for the outstanding engineering services companies found in the Options I/O Cloud Marketplace.  Chef’s partner program also includes recognition of professional services partners like Options I/O Cloud Marketplace to help enterprises with Chef go-to-market resources.  Options I/O Cloud Marketplace can help you on your journey with Chef and with your Amazon Web Services projects.  Just contact us to get started.

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DualSpark & Options I/O Announce Strategic Merger for Cloud Enablement

DualSpark & Options I/O Announce Strategic Merger for Cloud Enablement

Merger joins Expert Consulting with Technology Marketplace Advisory to create a One Stop Shop for Cloud Customers

Seattle, WA (Cloud City), /PRNewswire-iReach/ — Friday, March 27th, 2015

DualSpark, an AWS Advanced Consulting partner, today announced it has merged with Options I/O, a leading Cloud Marketplace and Technology Advisor headquartered in Tacoma, WA.  Matthew Scott, Founder of Options I/O, joins DualSpark as VP of Sales and Alliances.

“The team at DualSpark consistently scored at the top of Options I/O’s client feedback for cloud system integration and engineering projects.  DualSpark is constantly innovating and automating for their clients, and they deserve the trust their clients put into them,” said Matthew Scott.  “It is exciting to have the opportunity to combine our companies to deliver world-class service, support and enablement to our clients and partners.”

As independent cloud adoption advisors with experience from thousands of deployments, both DualSpark and Options I/O have clear visibility into which combinations of services, technologies and approaches result in successful outcomes. This creates the opportunity for the next generation of partner engagement models with packaged solutions to streamline project delivery and ongoing operations.

“Options I/O has been a strong consulting partner for Chef and our customers,” said Ken Cheney, VP of Business Development at Chef.  “We are looking forward to expanding our relationship with both teams.”

“We think this is a great win for our customers,” said Patrick McClory, COO and CTO of DualSpark. “The merger of DualSpark’s deep consulting and engineering capabilities combined with the partnerships within the Options I/O cloud marketplace reduces the cost, risk and timelines of the integration work usually shouldered by our customers.  This truly provides a unique opportunity to further promote successful cloud deployments with a proven marketplace of partners, all focused on long-term client success.”

“We’re excited to have Matthew joining the leadership team at DualSpark, he has so much passion and energy for the mission,” said Simon Plant, CEO of DualSpark.  “We’re seeing tremendous demand from our customers who need their initiatives to quickly deliver results. Matthew’s industry networks, combined with the deep talent of the cloud veterans at DualSpark, plus the cutting edge technology partnerships from the marketplace give our clients the confidence to forge ahead with their move to go all in with the cloud.”

 About DualSpark

DualSpark is an AWS Advanced Consulting Partner, bringing application, operations and cutting-edge strategy to our clients. We deliver cloud expertise to accelerate client deployments and support our clients as they transform their workloads and companies to cloud native.  http://www.DualSpark.com@dualsprk

 About Options I/O

Options I/O, Inc. is a cloud marketplace and consulting company. We specialize in combining our proven sales and technology experience in high-growth companies for your business. In our cloud marketplace you can find the leading cloud technology and engineering offerings. We will pair these options for a plan that is custom for your specific business need.  http://www.optionsio.com@optionsio

Read more about the merger from these media sources:

Geekwire Story Merger OptionsIO DualSpark

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DevOps Approach to Security Seattle March 12 2015

Options I/O is excited to be hosting a happy hour with our partners at Chef, Alert Logic and Cascadeo.  More organizations are embracing DevOps and automation to realize compelling business benefits, such as more frequent feature releases, increased application stability, and more productive resource utilization. However, security and compliance monitoring tools have not kept up. In fact, they often represent the largest single remaining barrier to continuous delivery.  We asked Alert Logic and Chef to host their recent AWS re:Invent session in Seattle for our friends and colleagues who were unable to see it in Las Vegas. Please contact us if you would like an invitation.

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Tacoma Cyber Breakfast March 4 2015

Options I/O is hosting a breakfast and networking event focused on cyber security in Tacoma on March 4th.  It’s an invitation-only breakfast for both business and technical leaders in the Puget Sound region to discuss Information Security topics.  There are many questions that business and IT leaders should be asking to build their Information Security strategy and we wanted to answer them live with you.  In addition to leading cyber security organizations participating on an interactive panel, we are excited that the Google Cloud team will be presenting how they secure their client data.  Please contact us if you would like an invitation.

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#CyberBfast Cybersecurity Expert Breakfast & Panel

 

I wanted to thank everyone who joined us for a great breakfast panel talking about current topics in the business cybersecurity space.  It was great to see old colleagues and meet new professionals from all over the Puget Sound area.  Our friends at Propel Insurance not only hosted us in their beautiful building but did a great job live tweeting (#CyberBfast) many of our discussion points today.

When I started Options I/O Cloud Marketplace, I realized that providing our client’s the best cloud solutions meant that we would have to stay informed in many areas of cloud technologies. These areas include public cloud, private cloud, automation, cloud networking, engineering, disaster recovery, financial optimization and security.  This morning, I had the opportunity to moderate a really smart panel representing complimentary facets from across the enterprise security space.  I engage these same companies with our clients when working on cloud security projects but not usually all together at once and in front of a full room.

Our panelists included Charlie Morriss who runs the Cyber and Management Liability Practice at Propel Insurance , Jared Reimer, Founder and CTO of Cascadeo, Johnathan Norman, Founder and Architect at Alert Logic and Kennet Westby, Founder and President of Coalfire Systems.

One of the themes that seemed to resonate across the different attendees was the idea that it’s tough to defend the stance that all business aren’t at risk of cyber attacks.  Businesses need to be proactive to protect their sensitive information and to understand the risks they have due to the type of data they possess.  One way to address this is to leverage managed services in areas where the business doesn’t have a strategic need to provide it themselves.  The example from Jared included replacing hosted email servers with services like Office365.  In this example you can leverage the security and scale of Microsoft to protect your email vs. doing it in-house.

This lesson applies to many areas inside of cloud projects including security and we can help you find the right solutions for your company.  Contact us if you would like some help navigating your cloud and cloud security projects.

 

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Cybersecurity Breakfast Seattle Oct 21

Options I/O is hosting a breakfast and networking event focused on cyber security in Seattle on Tue, October 21.  It’s an invitation-only breakfast for both business and technical leaders in the Puget Sound to discuss Information Security topics.  There are many questions that business and IT leaders should be asking to build their Information Security strategy and we wanted to answer them live with you.

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8:30am – 9:00am       Breakfast & Networking 

9:00am – 10:00am     Expert Panel Q&A with Audience

10:00am – 10:30am   Networking & Next Steps

 
Featured Expert Panelists:
 
Matthew Scott, Founder & SVP Sales at Options I/O, Moderator
Matthew is Founder & SVP Sales of Options I/O and an expert in cloud computing.  Matthew led North and South American sales at Amazon Web Services (AWS) in 2010 and 2011 prior to starting Options I/O. Before AWS he was VP of Sales & Support for a mobile security company in Seattle, NetMotion Wireless.
Johnathan Norman, Co-Founder and Cloud Solutions Architect at Alert Logic
Johnathan Norman is a Co-Founder and Cloud Solutions Architect at Alert Logic, the leading provider of Security-as-a-Service solutions for the cloud. Johnathan has over 15 years of experience in Enterprise IT solutions and is a subject matter expert for complex deployments of network, system and application security.  Early on in his career at Alert Logic, aside from overseeing critical areas, he managed the analysis of software vulnerabilities, 0day threats, malware analysis, and penetration testing of software applications. Before returning to Alert Logic in 2014, Johnthan worked for Microsoft focusing on designing and testing malicious app detection and was responsible for SDL testing and penetration testing within various areas within Windows.
Jared Reimer, Founder and CTO at Cascadeo
As Cascadeo’s chief technology officer, Jared Reimer serves as the company’s technical evangelist and principal architect for large-scale, mission-critical cloud infrastructure.  Jared has designed and implemented systems for some of the world’s largest companies, with a career in Internet infrastructure operations spanning two decades.  He is a subject-matter expert in cloud computing, security, operations, deployment automation, distributed systems, and backbone network engineering.  Jared holds a master’s degree in Computer Science and Engineering from the University of Washington.
Charlie Morriss, Management Liability Leader at Propel Insurance
Charlie is an attorney and management liability expert. He has been a trusted advisor to corporate leaders for 17 years, both in Employment Practice Liability firms and insurance brokerages. As Management Liability Practice Leader, Charlie directs the CyberSmart Privacy and Liability team at Propel Insurance.
Kennet Westby, Co-Founder & President at Coalfire
Mr. Westby is a founding partner of Coalfire and serves as its President, COO and Senior Security Strategist. Mr. Westby brings over 15 years of IT security and IT controls design and implementation experience to the team. His broad industry experience also includes application development, e-business and business process integration. He has served as COO for a global managed application hosting company where he provided both technical and operations leadership. Mr. Westby has also served as the COO and CIO for the world’s largest pharmacy e-business network and portal. Mr. Westby was selected as one of the nation’s top 100 CIO’s by CIO magazine. He is considered an industry leader in e-business and IT risk advisory, and has presented as a keynote speaker at some of the largest industry forums.

Hybrid Cloud Happy Hour Event

We wanted to thank our guests that fought some tough Seattle traffic to make it to our event tonight.  We had a great time sharing insight into how each of our organizations works with hybrid cloud projects.  Options I/O  talked about managing multiple products & services for our clients from our cloud marketplace for optimal hybrid cloud design.  We include our consulting and design assistance at no additional cost when you choose products from our marketplace.  Options I/O selects best-of-breed cloud partners and we maintain expertise across these products & services and the public cloud providers.  We announced tonight that we have added Chef to our marketplace and we are very excited to start our partnership.  We also wanted to thank Mark Estes from Emdeon for talking about how he uses Options I/O and our marketplace on his public cloud migration project.

Our partners at Digital Fortress talked about the different AWS connectivity options from their Downtown Seattle, South Seattle and Moses Lake data centers.  This includes a 2 millisecond latency number from their Downtown Seattle data center to the AWS Direct Connect hub in Seattle.  They also highlighted for companies that have green energy initiatives that the Seattle data centers’  power utility, Seattle City Light, is the greenest utility in the nation with 97% renewable power.

Our partners at Cascadeo shared their experiences as a vendor-neutral cloud consulting company.  They presented a healthcare client case study that was architected using a hybrid cloud design.  They also shared best practices and lessons learned from that deployment.  These best practices included using Netflow to discover application dependencies over time that may not be obvious as a way to minimize breaks in migrating, as well as using portions of AWS that allow for HIPAA-compliant workloads and dedicated hardware to compensate for public cloud services not eligible for HIPAA workloads.

Our partners at Alert Logic talked through the benefits of using their Security-as-a-Service across public cloud providers and on-premise infrastructure security simultaneously through a single console.  This includes using their IDS, Vulnerability Assessment, auto-scaling Web Application Firewall and Log Management services coupled with 24×7 monitoring and expert guidance services.  They highlighted how companies  moving to the cloud or have developers working on cloud projects outside of current security and compliance can easily maintain the agility of the cloud while bringing these developers into compliance.

We look forward to seeing you at the next event and if you have any questions or would like to discuss in more detail please contact us.

 

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