Special Feature
Part of a ZDNet Special Feature: Integrating the Hybrid Cloud

Octet replaces ageing on-premises stack with hybrid AWS environment

Doubts about the reliability of its on-premises hardware stack led Octet to move all of its servers into Amazon Web Services, retaining minimal infrastructure on site.

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Image: iStock

When Octet was established 28 years ago, the only IT option the company had was to build a traditional on-premises hardware stack. Up until two years ago, Octet relied on ageing infrastructure to keep the company running.

Octet provides an online portal that gives businesses an overview of their financial supply chain process, including the ability to pay suppliers using any method via real-time exchange rates. To date, the company claims it has supported $1 billion worth of transactions between Australian buyers and more than 10,000 suppliers across 60 countries.

Octet's chief operating officer Michael Rom described the company's investment in its traditional on-premises stack as like "watching it depreciate into nothingness".

Rom said that, for a lot of the time, the company was left guessing about how reliable its on-premises servers were, as the company was unaware of whether its backup or disaster recovery systems would work.

"There could be extended downtime, and the problem with that is you had to call up the service provider to get hold of the account manager, who had to get hold of the network technician, and all of a sudden it's almost five hours later, and no one knows what's going on," he said.

The most difficult issue the company faced, however, according to Rom, was the difficulty of transitioning information onto new platforms as in-house servers continued to age.

To address these issues, Octet partnered with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to deploy a majority of its on-premises infrastructure to the cloud -- a process that took approximately two months to complete. The deployment involved moving Octet's corporate environment, such as file server and development server, its build environment, and the production environment that houses the company's web and database servers.

The only infrastructure that remains on-premises is the company's domain controller, plus a high-speed, low-latency fibre optic line for internet connection, and a firewall.

The firewall is crucial to Octet's business operations, said Rom: in order for the company to make some of its servers appear private, it uses the firewall to establish a virtual private network connection between the office and AWS.

Microsoft Azure was also in close contention, said Rom, but Octet felt that AWS was "more mature".

Complete control

According to Rom, since deploying its servers to AWS, the company has complete control over its environment, and is able to create new instances and redirect loads. He added that having the flexibility to tear down and build up a new environment using the underlying hardware and the latest versions of operating systems from AWS is another benefit.

"Now that we've moved over to cloud, our ability to innovate and work through our product roadmap and valuable features has drastically increased by 10-fold," he said.

Octet is also able to operate at low latency, despite its servers being located at AWS. Rom added that low latency is particularly important given that part of the company's function involves operations in the volatile currency market.

"It feels like it's a local experience, and it's all due to the fact that it's a low latent line," he said.

The experience for Octet's customers -- global financial institutions such as Westpac and Bank of Nanjing that are licensees of Octet's platform in their different localities -- has also improved, said Rom. Octet no longer has to rely on "an old clunky physical server" when it wants to change its environment, but instead can replicate the changes in AWS.