by Byron Connolly

Why IntelligenceBank gave local cloud providers the flick

Feb 04, 2016
Cloud Computing

With a growing international business, asset management software provider, IntelligenceBank, had a problem: The local cloud hosting providers it was using simply weren’t able to spin up servers on demand.

Speed of service delivery is crucial for the Melbourne-based organisation, which develops software-as-service apps for digital asset and knowledge management, governance, risk and compliance, and electronic board meetings for 250 enterprises worldwide.

The marketing departments of large firms such as Australian Super, Kubota, Jetstar, NAB, and Santos, use the company’s digital asset and knowledge management product.

“For these customers, it’s less about security and more about scale, speed and processing time and we have to host in Australia,” said IntelligenceBank’s CEO, Tessa Court.

“From a board portal perspective, security is very important [for customers] as is the ability to host services locally here in Australia. Data domicile is also a huge issue [for these customers],” she said.

But the three local cloud service providers the company was using – including Telstra – weren’t cutting it.

“There are a lot of providers who have the infrastructure – and I am sure the hardware is great – but it was the ability to flick servers on and off [that they couldn’t provide],” said Court.

“We used some local cloud hosting providers but the problem was that the interface and fulfilment was a big challenge,” she said.

“For us as a small organisation – we are only 20 people now – we needed that instant capability of adding additional CPUs or additional servers or changing backups really easily, and not having to go through an account management team at a hosting provider.”

Then, in 2012, Amazon Web Services landed in Australia, and IntelligenceBank moved all of its Australian clients to the global hosting provider.

The move has also enabled the organisation to grow incrementally following its expansion into the US in 2014 and in the UK last October.

“It’s nice to be able to turn on small servers on demand. I know a lot of cloud companies say they can do that but in reality [they can’t] and Amazon is quite good at that.

“If we need a backup server, for instance, we can fulfill [the order] very easily through the interface.

“This may have changed in four years [with other providers], but the problem we had with other providers is that they said they had that [capability to provide immediate services] but they actually didn’t. In some cases, you had to go through an account management team and they would say, ‘yeah we’ll build that server for you’ so it actually wasn’t true cloud.”

The move to Amazon Web Services has also helped IntelligenceBank create private clouds for its customers – which is particularly suitable for the security-conscious users of its board portal product.

“We have government departments, for instance, who want to use a SaaS solution and they want to have nimble and relatively low cost capabilities – but security and encryption is a huge issue.”

Under this private cloud model, the client owns the Amazon account and manages the encryption keys, and IntelligenceBank periodically updates the data, code, and security patches.

“What’s nice about that arrangement is that it’s like a self-hosted model but it’s still on the same infrastructure that we run everything else on.

“So that’s a really great benefit – there are banks that we are talking to that also have huge security challenges. A lot of our clients are very open to that private cloud model.”

Using cloud services has also freed up time for IntelligenceBank to innovate across its own business, said Court.

“We constantly weigh up if and when we would get our own data centre for the organisation. And the reality is that we would probably need to hire another three people to manage our own data centre.” Court said.

“For us, cloud takes the headache out of managing a data centre. We have this saying with some of our clients that ‘the worse thing cloud ever did was call itself cloud’ because it freaks everyone out. People ask ‘where is it?’ It’s just outsourcing data centres .

“To have the security and the rigour and the risk management that companies like Amazon or Rackspace or any of them [have], there’s a lot of investment that goes into making sure those organisations are running really well.”

Follow CIO Australia on Twitter and Like us on Facebook… Twitter: @CIO_Australia, Facebook: CIO Australia, or take part in the CIO conversation on LinkedIn: CIO Australia

Follow Byron Connolly on Twitter:@ByronConnolly