Innovative Systems reduces operating costs and streamlines operations
Learn how 10th Magnitude helped Innovative Systems significantly improve data migration speeds, enhance customer service, and experience real-world savings with Azure and the Cloud.
Azure and the Art of the Possible with Innovative Systems
For Innovative Systems, Software as a Service (SaaS) is a significant part of their company’s day-to-day business. In fact, Innovative Systems’ Azure-based SaaS offerings are the fastest growing part of their business. Once the SaaS side of their operations began to grow, they were soon operating five separate data centers around the world.
Innovative Systems is in the business of providing Risk and Compliance systems to financial institutions, which means that, due to data privacy laws one of their requirements is that customer data on their system must reside within a certain region of the world. Because of this, they have data centers in Singapore, Germany, Brazil, Canada, and the US.
This, of course, has always cost them a lot of money. There were the initial expenses associated with setting up, managing, and supporting each site, but one of the biggest frustrations was that they were basically buying Bare Metal Virtual Machines (VMs) from five different suppliers around the world and struggling to manage five different data centers.
They were dealing with all five sites completely independently. This was a huge drain on the company’s time, resources, and money. Because of this, Innovative Systems realized that they needed to start using a robust cloud platform.
They engaged 10th Magnitude with a big goal: get off this disparate set of VMs and onto a cloud platform. Doing this would reduce operating costs, reduce pain, and streamline operations.
"When they compare their previous expenses to today’s, Innovative Systems is now seeing a roughly 20%-30% cost reduction from 2017 to 2018."
What was Innovative Systems looking for in a service provider?
When Brandon Ekberg, Senior Vice President, Global Operations at Innovative Systems, Inc., arrived, the company had already gone through a few generations of changes. But since 2008-2009, they’ve grown significantly.
This growth means that they have needed to make some significant changes in order to help them continue to provide excellent service to their customers. They also needed to examine how they were spending money ineffectively.
As a first step, Ekberg and other key players including Mike Stearman and Jeff Schwartz were looking for a team to help sell cloud transformation. More specifically, they wanted to find someone who could give a presentation to the company management that showed what is possible by moving to a cloud platform.
Azure and the Art of the Possible
Ekberg came from Eaton Corporation, where he ran the software and communications team. That is when he started working with the Microsoft Azure platform, to provide hosted services to monitor power systems. By the time he moved to Innovative Systems, he was familiar with Azure and knew what it could do, making it his platform of choice.
Initially, all the team wanted was for someone to help sell the benefits of moving to a cloud platform to Innovative’s internal teams. Through his connections at Microsoft, Ekberg met Charles Schwenger, Business Development Manager at 10th Magnitude.
Soon after their meeting, Schwenger put together a one-hour presentation called “Art of the Possible.” 10th Magnitude’s presentation to the team at Innovative Systems is all it took to get things rolling. They were soon on their cloud journey.
Soon after the presentation, 10th Magnitude stepped in and took control.
Brandon Ekberg started with Azure because it was something he knew. But it took the team at 10th Magnitude to get the team out of the morass and onto a true journey of digital transformation.
What was so special about the Art of the Possible presentation? During the presentation, the 10th Magnitude team detailed exactly how Azure could replace the VMs for Innovative Systems. This could move all of their VM infrastructure to Azure. This is what was needed to sell this essential cloud journey.
The transition from VMs to a more cost-effective Azure Cloud
Although the presentation laid the groundwork, the next step was for 10th Magnitude to come in to do an evaluation. They sat with the technical team at Innovative Systems and learned more about what was running on the VMs, then went back to their headquarters in Chicago to work on developing a migration plan and proposal.
Innovative Systems wanted to manage all of their sites from a single console so that they would not have to log into each site and pull the statistics. 10th Magnitude showed them how to do all that. Essentially, 10th Magnitude understood the importance of that feature and helped set it up as they built their test configuration.
"What was so special about the Art of the Possible presentation? During the presentation, the 10th Magnitude team detailed exactly how Azure could replace the VMs for Innovative Systems. This could move all of their VM infrastructure to Azure. This is what was needed to sell this essential cloud journey."
Step one was helping Innovative Systems build the first data center. This took the most time. When some things didn’t move over as quickly as planned, the teams worked through the details. 10th Magnitude then built a test site that duplicated the U.S. data center for evaluation and testing. They moved the first U.S. data center in December, 2017. Canada came right after in January of 2018.
Data migration with a business-critical system
On the migration side, 10th Magnitude helped Innovative Systems develop a strategy for shutdowns. This is extremely important because they are a business-critical system, and when you are working with banks, there is no room for error. Additionally, the transformation window is extremely short (e.g. 24 hours over a weekend).
In fact, one of the things that 10th Magnitude realized early on is that the U.S. site was too big for the basic migration. This was Innovative System’s biggest site, and at roughly two terabytes it was too big to move. Innovative Systems needed to be able to shut down on a Friday night and be up and running by Sunday afternoon. They initially thought that nobody could pull off a migration within such a short window of time.
Impressively, 10th Magnitude developed a migration strategy to work within that extremely tight timeframe.
A security analysis of all sites
Subsequent to the data migration, Innovative Systems hired 10th Magnitude to come back in and do a security analysis of all their sites.
And this was big. According to Ekberg, “10th Magnitude did a great job with that. And we now have a comprehensive report that shows customers that their site is certified. And when customers say, ‘Hey, have you certified your site?’ We say, ‘Here’s our report.’ It’s a very valuable tool because you do get asked that all the time. Our report shows exactly how we comply against a standard set of criteria and we received a roughly 96% compliance. Extremely useful.”
"Right now it looks like if we compare 2017 to what 2019 costs will be, we’ll see a roughly 20-30% reduction in hosted costs. So, the costs savings have been fantastic!"Brandon Ekberg
Senior Vice President, Global Operations at Innovative Systems, Inc.
Innovative Systems and 10th Magnitude teamed up to figure out which Azure template was going to run seamlessly as it dealt with a two-terabyte database and customers who wanted 20-plus million records back in four hours?
According to Ekberg, “10th Magnitude helped us build that and then some. This allowed us to migrate four of our five data centers, and this was remarkable. If you look at what we’ve accomplished, it’s pretty amazing. We can now move an entire operation in a weekend. That is, completely move from one physical data center to another.”
Ekberg continued, “The 10th Magnitude team helped us come up with a way to migrate a data center over a weekend and we never missed a beat. And after the first migration, subsequent migrations were seamless.”
And real-world savings
When they compare their previous expenses to today’s, Innovative Systems is now seeing a roughly 20% cost reduction from 2017 to 2018.
And according to Ekberg, “Right now it looks like if we compare 2017 to what 2019 costs will be, we’ll see a roughly 20-30% reduction in hosted costs. So, the costs savings have been fantastic!”
Innovative Systems’ primary goal was to provide their hosted customers with a more reliable and robust offering. They needed that robust operating platform. Cost-savings were almost a secondary issue compared to that customer need, and yet cost-savings have turned out to be one of the biggest benefits of the switch. The result of Innovative Systems and 10th Magnitude teaming up has been dramatic cost savings that is improving annually.
What does the future hold?
Innovative Systems’ technology consists of very sophisticated algorithms. The core of what they do is pattern matching, and this has to be done with a very high degree of accuracy with a ton of records. For example, a bank might need 30, 40, 50 million records analyzed in a matter of hours.
So, Charles and the team at 10th Magnitude are now setting up an “Art of the Possible” to explore what machine learning opportunities and tools are available in Azure and how Innovative Systems can take advantage of them.
The team at 10th Magnitude are industry leaders in Azure Cloud & Data Center Migration. Working with clients like Innovation Systems is about discovering the specific needs of the company, clearly communicating the value proposition of 10th Magnitude services, and then returning with an exceptional process and system that will save clients time, money, and frustration.
"10th Magnitude helped us build that and then some. This allowed us to migrate four of our five data centers, and this was remarkable. If you look at what we’ve accomplished, it’s pretty amazing. We can now move an entire operation in a weekend. That is, completely move from one physical data center to another."Brandon Ekberg
Senior Vice President, Global Operations at Innovative Systems, Inc.
To learn a bit more about the Innovate Systems/10th Magnitude partnership, listen to our interview with Brandon Ekberg in Podcast Episode 7 – The Art of the Possible – Moving a Mission-Critical System to the Cloud.