AMS Collaborator builds web-based services and applications for clients in a variety of fields, ranging from legal to accounting to human resource management. As a full-service software and consulting firm, the company provides and maintains its clients’ applications, data, and infrastructure. AMS Collaborator was using a colocation service for applications and infrastructure, but found the overhead and maintenance of managing the hardware, software, and services for a rapidly growing user base unacceptably high. The moment of truth came when it chose instead to move to a Cloud-based service for the future.
Key considerations for the new Cloud service:
- Ensure high reliability. AMS Collaborator customers rely on its applications to run their businesses. As a result, they require the highest levels of reliability. AMS Collaborator offers its customers service level agreements (SLAs) and needed a high-availability service provider that could meet and exceed these requirements.
- Offer high performance. AMS Collaborator needed to ensure that its applications operate at peak performance. It could not allow any slowdowns or interruptions to impact its customers.
- Provide security and discoverability. Many of AMS Collaborator’s customers are law firms that require extremely high levels of security because of the sensitive nature of their work. When they delete documents, the documents must be actually deleted instead of continuing to live in the Cloud. Their clients need to know where their documents are stored at all times, and have quick and secure access to them at a moment’s notice.
- Free staff to focus on higher-level tasks. By moving to Cloud-based services, AMS Collaborator hoped to free its staff from day-to-day infrastructure responsibilities so they could focus on value-added tasks.
Partnering for business results
AMS Collaborator launched a search for the best Cloud services provider. Firms under consideration included Amazon Web Services, Cloud services from Rackspace, and Sungard Availability Services Enterprise Cloud Services. The company quickly saw that Sungard AS Cloud was the best offering.
“We already had a long-term relationship with Sungard AS through a colocation services arrangement, and found their services and support to be ideal,” Noland remembers. “When we looked at Sungard AS Cloud we were extremely impressed by the infrastructure and support that Sungard AS had to offer.
One of the most important reasons for the choice was that AMS Collaborator’s customers were familiar with Sungard AS and wanted to stay with a proven solution. “They were very comfortable with Sungard AS,” Noland says. “Many of our clients are law firms, and are justifiably conservative when it comes to infrastructure change. They knew that Sungard AS was highly secure.”
Especially important for the clients were data security issues. “Clients needed to know that if there’s a disaster, they need to get their data back, and Sungard AS is well-known for disaster recovery,” Noland explains.
Also crucial were Sungard AS’ data auditing capabilities. With competing Cloud service offerings, Noland says, there was no way to know exactly where data was being stored—it could be stored in a single location, multiple locations, or regularly moved from location to location.
“Law firms don’t want 15 copies of their data living in the Cloud without knowing where all those copies are,” he explains. “It’s important for data auditing that they know where data lives. It could be problematic for them if they think they delete data, and then they are subpoenaed and find out that the data still exists.”
Noland says that with Sungard AS’ security model, “It’s almost like having a private Cloud, and it offers data auditability. You can audit the specific location of any piece of data down to a specific data center. No competing services can do that.”
With Sungard AS, the AMS Collaborator team didn’t need to spend unnecessary time managing the computing infrastructure, and devoted themselves to higher-value tasks.
“With Sungard AS, we can concern ourselves with the business itself and business issues rather than the underlying infrastructure,” Noland says. “We also know that our customers are getting enterprise level hardware and support.”
AMS Collaborator’s customers saw performance improvements since moving to Sungard AS. Reliability has also improved, critical in light of AMS Collaborator’s service level agreements with its clients. With Sungard AS, AMS Collaborator has consistently met all of its SLAs.
“The peace of mind we get from Sungard AS is extremely important,” Noland says. “I know that I don’t have to worry about the infrastructure going down. That’s a huge benefit.”
With Sungard AS Cloud, AMS Collaborator has a more flexible infrastructure and can easily scale for growth. Rather than having to buy, deploy, and maintain servers, software, and other infrastructure, it can use Sungard AS’ Cloud services on an as-needed basis.
“Flexibility is one of the biggest advantages,” Noland says. “It’s much easier to deploy a virtual server than it is to deploy a physical one. I can contact Sungard AS and have a new server up and running in a day, something that wasn’t possible when using colocation services because we had to do the entire deployment ourselves.”
In addition, if AMS Collaborator needs to grow and add servers and storage, it can do that in small increments and purchase only what it needs. Previously, it would have to buy in larger increments, such as adding an entire new storage array rather than a smaller amount of storage.
Noland says that Sungard AS has not only helped it keep existing clients, but also to attract and gain new business. “Sungard AS’ documentation about the quality, performance, and security of its infrastructure is the best I’ve ever seen. That documentation is extremely valuable for us because I send it to potential clients, and they can see very clearly the enterpriselevel quality of the infrastructure and support they will be getting.”
Says Noland: “Clients are savvy about Cloud services, and when I tell them that we use Sungard AS, they immediately know that they will be getting the best Cloud services available.”
Noland lauds Sungard AS not just for its hardware, software, and infrastructure, but for the quality of its service and support. “They act like a business partner, not just a vendor,” he says. “They offer excellent technical support and always resolve any issues quickly. They understand our business and our needs, not just our technical requirements—that’s a very big plus.”
Moving to a Cloud-based service came at a critical time for AMS Collaborator, but that decision has paid off in more ways than one.