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Global Blood Therapeutics

Biopharmaceutical Company Relies on Navisite to Modernize on AWS

IT Strategy Shifts to Cloud

Global Blood Therapeutics, Inc. (GBT) is a biopharmaceutical company dedicated to the discovery, development and delivery of life-changing treatments that provide hope to underserved patient communities, starting with sickle cell disease (SCD).

In 2019, the company’s IT strategy shifted to the public cloud. At the time, the company was running approximately 10 business-critical servers in a local data center—including its centralized database, application, licensing, and research and development (R&D) servers.

According to William Ge, the director of informatics at GBT, the situation was unsustainable given the company’s growth and intense compute demands.

“We had a new genomics group coming on board, and we knew our data center would not be able to handle the anticipated spikes in demand,” said Ge. “Simultaneously, we were dealing with aging infrastructure, and we didn’t want to invest in acquiring and maintaining more hardware. Ultimately, it was time to migrate out of the data center and gain the scalability and limitless capacity of the public cloud.”

Finding a Cloud Partner

With the decision made to modernize on the cloud, GBT began evaluating public cloud providers. Ge noted: “We looked into four or five cloud providers, and AWS became the clear frontrunner. AWS provided the high-performance computing architecture we needed and was successfully supporting other biopharmaceutical companies of a similar size to GBT.”

Recognizing that their team didn’t have the necessary cloud expertise, GBT began a similar search for a trusted partner to guide and support the migration. After meeting with a handful of providers, GBT chose Navisite for its AWS expertise and track record of migrating and managing high-performance workloads on the cloud.

“With the expertise of Navisite, the migration to AWS was successful and smooth.”
William Ge
Director of Informatics | GBT
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Modernizing on AWS

Navisite came on board in the summer of 2020 and immediately got to work architecting GBT’s cloud environment and mapping out a phased approach to migrate the 10 servers running on legacy infrastructure in the data center to AWS.

“Navisite moved us to a virtual private cloud on AWS to meet our company’s stringent security needs,” said Ge. “Once the private cloud was up and running, Navisite helped us create a development account. After rigorous testing to ensure everything would work as intended, we began the migration of production environments.”

The first phase of the migration started with GBT’s database and application servers. In the local data center, the database server was running on an Oracle 11 database, but it was nearing end-of-life. After GBT updated the database codes, Navisite helped GBT migrate the database to Oracle 19c on Amazon RDS. And to ensure the migrated applications aligned with the new cloud database architecture, microservices and a third-tier architecture were introduced into the cloud. From there, Navisite and GBT executed the final phase of the plan—moving GBT’s licensing and R&D compute servers from the data center to the virtual private cloud on AWS.

“With the expertise of Navisite, the migration to AWS was successful and smooth,” said Ge. “Most importantly, there was no disruption to our services, which is critical to the scientists and R&D teams who rely on high-performance computing and system uptime to do their life-changing work.”

Ongoing Cloud Optimization

Today, GBT is taking advantage of Navisite’s Cloud DevOps services. As part of the service, a team of Navisite engineers is responsible for:

  • Managing GBT’s environments on AWS
  • Ensuring servers and applications are running smoothly
  • Making sure infrastructure is highly available and reliable
  • Monitoring and managing the security of GBT’s virtual private cloud on AWS

Additionally, GBT is benefiting from Navisite’s AWS Cloud Optimization Service to drive efficiencies, cost-savings and performance with an environment that is rightsized and fully optimized on the cloud.

“From Navisite’s AWS migration expertise to their ongoing DevOps and cloud optimization services, they have proven to be a true partner helping us continually succeed on the cloud,” said Ge.