Case Study: Dedicated Forensics Deployment

Cloudhelix deployed a mobile dedicated cloud infrastructure solution into a new region for a global law firm.

The brief

While every industry is still adapting to the cloud-first world we now live in, companies operating globally, as well as those operating in regulated industries, have a unique challenge.

One organisation Cloudhelix has partnered with to overcome this sort of challenge is a global professional services firm who carry out forensic investigations for businesses going through mergers, acquisitions and performance improvement.

Physical, dedicated cloud resources are ideal to support forensic and investigative activity as they can sufficiently handle the associated performance and security requirements involved. However, when your business operates over 40 offices worldwide, and new projects pop up across the globe all the time, how do you quickly deploy and access the physical infrastructure you need?

This is exactly the brief that our client came to us with. Their office in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, lacked the cloud infrastructure to support Relativity, a powerful investigation application, however, a new unexpected project meant that Relativity was required and must be up and running in Dubai in a short time frame, which presented them a significant challenge.

To overcome this challenge, Cloudhelix proposed a dedicated mobile VMware-based cluster, hosed in a flight case so that it could be easily shipped to Dubai and deployed. This solution is known as the Cloudhelix Black Box.

The approach

A dedicated flight case would allow our client to process confidential data while ensuring maximum security, as the hardware is on-site and dedicated solely to one project or type of activity. Couple this with the performance required to process the large amounts of data associated with forensic activity and an uncontested, bare-metal cloud becomes a brilliant solution to our client’s particular challenge.

The Black Box is essentially a smaller version of our cloud platform, housed in a mobile flight case that’s half the size of a standard rack and on wheels, making it easy to configure and then ship to Dubai.

In only six working days, the hardware had been delivered to our Edinburgh office, built, configured and shipped to Dubai. With our client’s fixed goal in mind, our team pulled out all the stops to have the Black Box on the ground in the Middle East as fast as possible, although our standard lead time for a mobile VMware cluster is usually 30 working days.

The challenge

Customs processes are often slow and are always meticulous and Cloudhelix anticipated possible delays at both UK and UAE customs - which is why we usually allow 30 days to deliver a mobile solution like the Black Box.

These delays at customs could have spelt disaster for the project, putting it on hold for an undisclosed amount of time, but having anticipated some delay at one or both borders, Cloudhelix had a contingency plan ready and waiting to ensure there was no ‘dead time’ in the project delivery.

The solution

A solution with the necessary virtual machines to run Relativity, but small enough to be carried onboard a commercial flight, was sent to Dubai along with one of our Cloud Architects. While less powerful than the dedicated flight case, and only a temporary solution, it allowed our client to begin testing and utilising the Relativity software thus ensuring key preparatory stages were taking place while the flight case was being processed.

The result

Arriving in the Middle East with the temporary solution preconfigured with Relativity server templates, our Cloud Architect completed the client-specific infrastructure build required to host Relativity using a mobile machine alongside locally-procured Network Attached Storage (NAS). This temporary solution allowed for our client to have Relativity processing initial workloads in a live environment just two weeks after project kick-off.

While delays and setbacks are an inevitable aspect of any cloud project, we know that for businesses working at global scale, it’s crucial that we can react quickly, even when dealing with logistics and international customs, in order to deliver their project on time.

When the Black Box arrived on-site, the temporary, mobile machine was integrated into the Black Box, with the virtual machines for the Relativity application migrated over to the Black Box hardware, thereafter the temporary mobile machine was removed and returned to the UK.

Our client now benefits from high-performance dedicated infrastructure in Dubai, with Cloudhelix providing support and managed services remotely. While the initial project was focused solely on Relativity, having cloud connectivity in Dubai provides our client with a solid springboard for future growth in a booming region.

It’s important for businesses running at a global scale that, even when relying on physical kit, cloud projects can happen as fast as their businesses move. This requires a considered project approach and cloud solutions that be quickly deployed. The Black Box is a nimble, mobile solution that allows businesses to provision dedicated cloud infrastructure in a short amount of time, something which many cloud providers simply aren’t built to deliver.