Expert Azure Advice for Software Vendors – APEX Case Study

  • APEX is an ISV that develops and delivers two products for the property sector that can either work in tandem or on their own. One is Connexus, a mobile workflow management tool and the other is Scribe, a product that allows a user to sketch a property and collect data on-site to produce an editable VR floor plan. 
  • APEX needed to move away from its infrastructure provider, which was using old technology and where costs had increased over the years, to a flexible solution which would allow its business to scale and grow internationally.

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With the launch of the new sketching product, which has a global reach (particularly in the USA and Australia) it was essential to have a scalable cloud infrastructure to deliver an enhanced experience and service to clients. In addition, the team at Apex were looking to build a cost-efficient model of delivery which would allow them to only pay for servers as they are required.

The existing technical platform and commercial model would not allow APEX to change the configuration of their infrastructure. With some under-performing areas and others with excess capacity, the infrastructure was proving to be expensive and inflexible.

APEX identified that a move to the Cloud could be the way forward and so contacted Microsoft,  Amazon and Google to find out what they recommended.  APEX took the decision to move their platform to Microsoft Azure to allow them to define and change their infrastructure architecture as they wished, and also to save money. With Microsoft skills in-house APEX decided this was the most sensible approach. As the company was already using MS SQL databases it would be a more seamless switchover than with other cloud providers and make the most of their in-house Microsoft skills.

Microsoft Gold Partner selected to lead deployment

APEX was put in touch with several Microsoft Azure specialist partners, and after some evaluation, decided that Compete366 was best placed to support the Azure migration.  Despite having some Microsoft skills in house, they wanted the reassurance of knowing that Compete366 were there to provide expert help where needed.  As Ben Bond, Operations Manager for APEX explains “The Compete 366 approach of – you do the work and we support you was very appealing to us as we do have some Microsoft skills in-house”.

A thorough architecture review

Compete366 suggested that instead of just deploying the same architecture that was already in place, that APEX should consider the Platform as a Service (PaaS) offering for their back-end SQL databases. After evaluation, it was decided to deploy this as it provides a highly available and resilient database platform with much less to manage.

Compete366 also advised on architecture options, as a result of which APEX adopted the Azure SQL database at the back-end instead of traditional SQL Server VMs, which provides better resilience and means there is less to manage too.

As one of the objectives of the project was to make cost savings, Compete366 helped APEX to cost the Azure environment. APEX had an immediate win in this area, as they had been paying over £10,000 for their infrastructure and file storage.  There is already a cost saving of over 50% on the new infrastructure, and the Compete366 advice and guidance was provided free of charge.

Detailed Migration Planning

Compete366 advised on a detailed migration plan, saving the main production database until last, with the final step to move file storage to Azure. The migration project was completed to target in just over 3 months which the APEX management team was delighted with.

As Darrell Cann, APEX MD explains “I have been delighted with the migration, where my team worked very hard, supported by expert advice from Compete366, and achieved everything in the timescale we had set out.  Compete 366 made sure that we didn’t make any expensive mistakes, and guided us through the process”

Next Steps

As the project came to a close, Compete366 were on hand with ongoing advice and guidance to optimise the environment.  And as APEX looks to deploy into new geographies and evolve their application and Azure architecture, Compete366 are on hand to support them in the future too.

As Ben explains “Our long-term goal is geographic expansion, bringing on new customers in the UK and wider.  Being able to scale both up and out is so much easier to do in Azure.  Because we now have this flexibility in our infrastructure we can scale up quickly.  If we win new clients in other geographies we can scale out to support them, allowing us to react in the right way depending on what happens.

If you’d like to find out how we can help you migrate your data to Azure, simply get in touch. We’ll be pleased to help.

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“It’s great to work with the Compete366 team, the team members are really knowledgeable, helpful and responsive. No question is too difficult for them. They have really helped us to manage our Azure costs and ensure we have the right environment. When we bring a new customer on-board we can scale up immediately via the Azure portal and quickly make environments available to our customers.”

“We also find that there’s never a heavy sales pitch from them – they are technically focused and recommend what’s right for us.”

Paul Coyne, Rusada

“We had great support from the Compete366 AVD expert, who was really helpful, and guided me through options to tackle issues that arose.”

“The great thing about our AVD set up is that we have a custom set up for each project which Compete366 showed me how to do. And with the scalability and flexibility of AVD – we can meet clients’ expectations and get project users up and running more quickly.”

Amir Dangol, Senior IT Manager, Integrity

“We were immediately impressed with the advice that the Compete366 specialists in Azure Architecture were able to provide. This was all new to us and we really needed some external expertise that we could use to get our questions answered. The beauty of working with Compete366 is that we transferred our Azure consumption to them, and at the same time received all of their advice and guidance free of charge.”

Tim Entwistle, Head of Software Development, Herrco

“Working with Compete366 has been like extending our own team – they are extremely and easy to work with. Right from the outset, it was clear what was on offer – everything was presented to us in a straightforward and uncomplicated way. They also provided just the right level of challenge to our developers and saved us time and money by suggesting better ways to implement our infrastructure.”

Oliver Mackereth, Project Director, Hanse

“Compete366 were able to help us leverage some useful contacts in Microsoft. We really value the expert advice and guidance that they have offered us in setting up a highly scalable infrastructure. We are also setting in place a regular monthly meeting which will allow us to further refine our architecture and ensure we keep on track as our requirements grow and change.”

Matt Brocklehurst, Technical Director - AWOL Adventure

“I have been delighted with the migration, where my team worked very hard, supported by expert advice from Compete366, and achieved everything in the timescale we had set out. Compete 366 made sure that we didn’t make any expensive mistakes, and guided us through the process”

Darrell Cann, Managing Director, APEX
Jon Milward

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