It’s been a tough year for workers who’ve had to navigate the shift to remote work all while dealing with the emotional toll of the COVID-19 crisis. The disruption to everyday routines paired with social distancing requirements, has not only led to loneliness and mental health issues, but lack of access to caregivers has also presented challenges for those with chronic health problems like diabetes, depression and insomnia. In a time with so much stress and uncertainty, workers need access to coaches, therapists, dietitians and other professionals who can help them navigate the new normal and prevent, manage and even reverse chronic health conditions.
Vida Health is leading the charge in employee health and wellness with personalized virtual care for workers. Vida’s platform treats the whole person by bringing together mental and physical healthcare through the best of technology and the human touch of therapists and coaches. Vida solutions address the intersection of chronic illness, mental issues and poor lifestyle choices for employees and their companies for happier, healthier people. Every Vida client receives a customized treatment plan created by medical and counseling professionals, taking into account their individual risk factors. For maximum impact, and easy accessibility, Vida’s virtual platform offers all these services in a unified portal.
The online health experts at Vida have helped clients with therapy sessions through an app and via video webinar for group mentoring. This holistic approach means that diabetics, for example, can learn from a licensed dietitian how to choose the best foods while remote-work challenged employees, isolated from their managers and co-workers, can benefit from the innovative telecommuting strategies of their virtual job coaches.
While Vida was providing its clients a way to improve their personal health and professional happiness, the company’s IT team and developers were suffering from their own sort of pain—the pain of maintaining multiple clouds that housed the Vida platform.
Vida Health hosts their platform on Aptible, a managed HIPAA-compliant cloud platform running on top of AWS. However, the platform didn’t offer enough control or flexibility for Vida. And because Vida also uses machine learning (ML) solutions from the HIPAA-compliant Google Cloud Platform (GCP), they were splitting time on two separate and distinct platforms. This led to developer stress and unhappiness.
In addition, Aptible SQL databases did not have enough scalability for Vida, with an instance topping out at a low number of gigabytes, forcing Vida to have multiple replicas of their database. And having too many replicas increases the chance of replication delays and does not allow Vida to leverage resources such as load balancers and Kubernetes. And as for autoscaling containers, Aptible could not deliver. “Vida needed to write our own cron jobs to schedule server resources to follow the daily web traffic cycle of most activity between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. Pacific,” said Tai Yu, Staff Engineer at Vida. “We wanted to be more cost efficient by reducing the number of containers outside those hours.”
Security was also a challenge for Vida because their system was split between AWS and GCP. So data was flowing from one platform to the other, increasing the attack surface of Vida’s solution and opportunities for any potential vulnerabilities to be exploited.
“As any cyber professional will tell you, security is a function of your attack area,” said Kher. “So because we were sending data between AWS and Google Cloud, it presented a larger-than-necessary surface area.”
“We were finding ourselves spending more time performing unnecessary, duplicative work to support two different cloud platforms. This frustrated some of our engineers to the edge of tears,” said Amol Kher, CTO of Vida Health. “It just made more sense to move everything to one platform, in this case, GCP was the platform of choice because of our significant existing investments.”
To migrate from AWS to GCP, Vida selected Google Cloud’s premier partner SADA to provide the expertise and services. “Out of my discussions with Google Cloud and after doing reference checks within the industry, SADA emerged as the partner to engage,” said Kher. “And we really needed SADA’s expertise on how to set up a new system in GCP from a speed, cost and reliability point of view.”
SADA got to work creating the landing points for Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE), load balancers, databases and cloud components, with managed services. “We chose managed services because we have limited DevOps resources,” said Yu. “SADA and Google Cloud created the GKE platform landing zone and we deployed our applications and data into GKE.”
Based on a migration strategy that SADA developed, Vida completed their move from AWS to GCP without affecting the user experience. In fact, downtime totalled less than two hours. “If you were a healthcare provider or a client and you logged on the day before and the day after the migration, you wouldn’t have noticed any difference,” said Yu. “We started deployment at 9 p.m. and finished our migration around 10:45 p.m, without any issues.”
With the migration, Vida achieved a more stable and scalable implementation.
“Because we consolidated all of Vida’s platform into a single GCP project, we can optimize for performance. For example, we reduced our number of database replicas, which improved efficiency. Also by combining two GCP projects into one, we can leverage one load balancer and fewer GKEs. For security, performance and scalability, one GCP instance is ideal.”
Tai Yu | Staff Engineer, Vida Health
And GCP enables more flexibility with autoscaling capability through GKE, whereas Aptible did not share AWS autoscaling with Vida, according to Yu. “Compared to Aptiple/AWS, GKE autoscaling is much more seamless and supported out of the box,” said Yu.
More time to develop features
As a result of the engagement with SADA and Google Cloud, Vida can devote more time to developing features for their platform and less on maintenance. GCP enables them to go to market faster and deliver features quicker to benefit their health practitioners and clients, helping to further reduce pain and suffering.
“The GCP speed improvements will help Vida get to market faster and generate more ideas that our engineers can take the time to test as new features,” said Kher. “GCP allows us to recover the opportunity cost we lost with AWS. Overall, GCP is easier to understand and set up, which leads to better innovation.” For example, Vida can leverage Google Cloud’s ML solutions to crunch the healthcare data of clients to personalize their treatment plans.
More security, less attack surface, more peace of mind
Moreover, by reducing the attack surface of their platform, Vida and their clients can have more peace of mind that their personal health information and sensitive notes are stored securely online.
“By moving all our cloud computing operations onto GCP, we’ve reduced our attack surface substantially,” said Kher. “Now all we have to do is keep a careful eye on how our data flows into and out of GCP as opposed to spreading our data across different platforms and losing sleep over authentication and authorization among those systems.”
Costs cut by 50% with state-of-the-art deployment
In addition to more security, GCP has saved Vida almost 50% of cloud spend compared to Aptible/AWS. “Migrating to Google Cloud Platform has transformed our spend, decreasing it by up to one-half of what it cost on Aptible/AWS,” said Kher. “And with those cost savings, we’ve been able to reinvest into innovating an even smarter, more powerful platform for our clients.”
Most importantly, with the migration complete, Vida now has the confidence that their infrastructure is more durable and on par with industry standards. “Before we migrated from AWS to Google Cloud Platform, our deployment was not fully modernized,” said Kher. “But after completing this process, all our systems have been consolidated on GCP and our implementation is now state of the art. We couldn’t have done it without SADA. We took advantage of their expertise, which we did not have, and now we are poised for our next stage of business expansion.”
In summary, Vida Health benefited by working with SADA and Google Cloud because of:
- Better security
- More reliability
- More innovation
- Speedier time to market
- Cost savings of 50% on GCP
“When you combine cost savings with the benefits of better security, reliability, developer happiness and time to market, cost savings are the cherry on top. I would have migrated from AWS to GCP even if there was no cost difference.”
Amol Kher | CTO, Vida Health