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About

Merriam-Webster, Inc. is an American company (founded in 1831, in Springfield, MA) known globally as a trusted source for both online dictionaries and publications of reference books.

“Many businesses operating in AWS today face a host of challenges when dealing with security and regulatory compliance requirements...In order to provide workload-level isolation on a larger scale across different environments, a new system is needed.

TGIX has collaborated with [Merriam-Webster] to help them implement and transition to highly secure and robust multi-account environments thus resulting in alleviating significant risks.” - Leon Taylor, Director, Cloud Operations, TGIX
Merriam-Webster released its first website in 1996, which provided free access to an online dictionary and thesaurus.

With the help of mobile search service provider AskMeNow, Merriam-Webster started offering a mobile dictionary and thesaurus service on February 16, 2007.

Objective

Users can use the service to get definitions, synonyms and spelling corrections via text message. In addition to Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day, their Open Dictionary offers members the opportunity to create new words and definitions.

Challenges

When Merriam-Webster decided it was time for a new AWS infrastructure, they knew they needed guidance and expertise to their main web media properties from their existing data center environment. This updated environment would not only need to be secure, flexible, and easily manageable, it also had to allow them room to grow in order to meet their long-term needs in building new features, enhancements, and applications on demand.

Merriam-Webster’s old infrastructure was beginning to show its age. The environment was experiencing latency issues; servicing was complex and time consuming for developers due to multiple accounts with different permissions and people moving positions; the infrastructure lacked flexibility, speed; and it was vulnerable to security risks.
In order to continue to offer their online services securely and provide future features and enhancements, they knew they needed to update their infrastructure.

TGIX Solutions

TGIX set up 4 accounts for Merriam-Webster:

• The service account for the operations group, DNS, and CIC pipeline.
• Public facing accounts with limited access to production and a more secure environment.
• A nonproduction development account for testing resources.
• A Sandbox account for gate users with much wider access to test out services.

This new implementation allows the team to manage accounts through a connector, connecting all accounts to one centralized user, so there is no need for multiple accounts or passwords to access all four.

Now, when they log into the new Data Center Infrastructure, the console no longer has separate accounts—there is just one and it provides the user access to various resources. This allows for ease of access for testing and maintenance for Merriam-Webster’s team.

Benefits

TGIX developed a secure, isolated environment for the developers at Merriam-Webster who were new to AWS. This protection gave them time to learn about the Cloud and to explore all the new functionality and tools without having to worry about changing key features that were being used in real time. Concurrently, new tools were created to bridge the development and production environments for automatic deployment of changes when they were needed most.

“Now, they don’t have to disable all of the accounts for simplified management and centralized access into the environment. It also allows them to disable an account when a user leaves, providing management with a more secure advantage.”- Leon Taylor, Director, Cloud Operations, TGIX

Utilizing a customized AWS infrastructure designed by TGIX made maintenance and accessibility much easier for Merriam-Webster. It allows their developers to manage their user accounts from a single-sign-on experience.

One of the bigger problems using individual users from their previous infrastructure was having to close down accounts when an employee left or changing permissions. Now, if a user moves up in a position that allows more access, they can be reassigned to a different group without having to create and delete multiple accounts.

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