A Cloud Migration That Saved Hours of Key Engineering Time: Merriam-Webster

A Cloud Migration That Saved Hours of Key Engineering Time: Merriam-Webster


Merriam-Webster is the premier English language reference in North America, with a strong search footprint and large share of the market: over 100 million pageviews/month on its core, free website and over 3 billion pageviews/year across all of its sites and apps. In addition to dictionary and thesaurus resources, Merriam-Webster features language content, word games, learning tools, a podcast, and a highly engaging Twitter presence.


A dated on-prem systems environment had latency, complexity, permissioning, and security issues. As the company pivoted to a digital-first, innovation-driven culture the cumbersome system was a block; and management was becoming increasingly concerned about security gaps as the brand continued to raise its profile and receive press coverage. With the increased data center footprint, infrastructure costs needed to be brought under control as well.


Tgix put together an architectural blueprint and migrated multiple properties, including the core merriam-webster.com site to a secure, flexible, scalable, and easily managed AWS infrastructure. A significant amount of refactoring and automation was implemented in the process to allow Merriam-Webster all the benefits of the cloud environment. With a public-facing, SEO-driven website, speed was another key factor that had to be balanced with cost-efficiency.

We set up 4 AWS accounts using our best-practices approach for multi-account architecture
  • A Public facing account with limited access housing a locked-down, secure production environment.
  • A Development account for nonproduction environments and testing.
  • A Service account for the operations group, with DNS and CICD pipeline setup.
  • A Sandbox account with much wider access to test out services.

AWS Transit Gateway was configured to connect the accounts, along with a VPN for remote access. The integrated environment allowed the team to easily configure operational tasks such as backups and monitoring. A Single Sign-On (SSO) implementation with Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) allowed the team to provision and control user accounts through a single management interface, so there was no need to maintain multiple logins or passwords.

Additionally, the secure architecture created by Tgix proved immensely beneficial to the developers at Merriam-Webster as well, who were new to AWS. The isolated environments 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 CICD tools were integrated to bridge the development and production environments to enable automatic deployment of code changes.

The Tgix team stayed on to work with Merriam-Webster on cloud engineering updates, application containerization with Docker/Kubernetes, and ongoing cloud management, which included backups, DR, cost optimization, and on-demand support.


  • Maintenance and accessibility became easier and less costly, and having a reliable infrastructure saved hours of key engineering time that was shifted to new product development, accelerating innovation and growth. This was further accelerated by the rollout of new automated CICD tools.
  • Single Sign-On provided simplified management and centralized access, making it easier and faster to quickly and securely adjust permissions as team members joined, left, or took on new roles.
  • The fast environment combined with a new front-end and dictionary database decreased load time and bounce rates, increasing site engagement.
  • Scaling the system to handle traffic and create secure environments for new products was quick, easy, and cost-efficient.

Technologies Used

Core AWS (EC2, ALB, WAF, S3, Route 53, ACM, CloudWatch)
API Gateway
Elastic Search
AWS GuardDuty

See Our Other Work For Merriam-Webster

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