eApps builds highly available OnApp cloud for AGENT511

The first 911 call to the U.S. emergency services was made in February 1968. Today, Americans make hundreds of millions of 911 calls each year. The vast majority are made from cell phones – but what do you do if need help and you’re unable to make a voice call?

This is where OnApp cloud technology is being used by Atlanta-based MSP, eApps, to host new ‘Text-to-911’ capabilities enabled by multi-channel communications specialist, AGENT511.


Helping U.S. emergency services get the message


AGENT511 has developed a platform called TEXTBLUE, which enables U.S. citizens to get help from emergency services via text and multimedia messages – vital for people who are hard of hearing, for example, or for whom it is not safe to make a voice call.

TEXTBLUE aggregates SMS and MMS messages to emergency services, from any phone or network and performs geospatial location routing to the most relevant 911 center. This ‘Text-to-911’ feature is becoming more and more widespread in the U.S., and is actively encouraged through legislation from the FCC, America’s Federal Communications Commission.

Critical application hosting from eApps

High availability hosting is obviously essential for such a critical application, and AGENT511 turned to OnApp cloud provider, eApps Hosting, to design and implement the right solution.  eApps has been providing premier application hosting services since 1996, and has been using the OnApp cloud platform as part of its solutions portfolio since 2011.

“Every client’s needs are different, and over the last ten years we’ve worked closely with AGENT511 to deploy a number of critical communication services,” says Richard Lingsch, president of eApps Hosting.

“For the TEXTBLUE project, our focus was on extremely high availability, which was vital owing to the nature of the application, and we worked closely with AGENT511 teams to design the right solution around our OnApp cloud infrastructure.”

eApps designed and delivered an ultra-robust distributed hosting solution for TEXTBLUE using the OnApp cloud platform as the core of the system, combined with Percona XtraDB Cluster, for database synchronization, and an independent Cloud Load Balancer from Total Uptime Technologies. This ‘best of breed’ approach was essential to ensuring high availability and scalability of the system.

OnApp cloud automation & resilience

The OnApp cloud platform handles the provisioning, operation, administration, and communication between the various web, application, database and security components that make up TEXTBLUE. At the server level, OnApp automates resource allocation and enables autoscaling to ensure TEXTBLUE components are running at peak efficiency; and through OnApp’s automatic failover and recovery systems, ensures that the core compute and storage infrastructure for TEXTBLUE is highly redundant and resilient.

Richard Lingsch, president, eApps Hosting

Richard Lingsch
president, eApps Hosting

“The TEXTBLUE application uses Java, MySQL, and security technologies on standard Linux servers,” says Lingsch. “AGENT511 can deploy and configure their application quickly using OnApp’s intuitive user interface, with essential cloud automation and uptime taken care of by the OnApp platform. In addition, OnApp simplifies the way we manage the infrastructure for TEXTBLUE, making it easy for us to standardize and clone core server technologies, to ensure accuracy and consistency of deployment.”

Adding geographic redundancy

For true high availability, however, the TEXTBLUE cloud environment also required geographic redundancy, and the eApps solution uses cloud load balancing and advanced data synchronization technologies to replicate the TEXTBLUE platform across multiple locations. This architecture ensures resiliency while creating a seamless experience for AGENT511’s agency partners.

“TEXTBLUE is currently hosted at our datacenters in Atlanta, Georgia and Richmond, Virginia. This is an active/active configuration, which means that the data is current in both locations”, says Lingsch. “Being able to scale to additional locations was another important requirement: if AGENT511 wants to increase geographical redundancy, we have to be able to host across additional datacenters while maintaining synchronous replication.”

Since deployment, the system has already processed a large number of emergency service requests, including time-critical issues such as domestic violence, and alerts about persons of interest.

With the scalable, highly available cloud solution created by eApps, AGENT511 is able to support mission-critical public safety services, and is keen to support other agencies who are moving to adopt text-based communications.