Up in the Cloud

Cloud technology is delivering significant cost savings to organisations like the Australian Property Institute (API), freeing up vital funds to further enhance member services.

Cloud technology is delivering significant cost savings to organisations like the Australian Property Institute (API), freeing up vital funds to further enhance member services.

The API’s Chief Information Officer (CIO) Joel Leslie says the API is leading the pack when it comes to embracing cloud technology. In fact, Mr Leslie believes the API’s reliance on cloud technology to unite the organisation’s seven geographically dispersed offices is well in front of other membership organisations, as well as most companies in general in Australia.

“The API had previously chosen a solution that wasn't 'really' designed to be delivered through the internet – so it wasn't a true cloud solution. It was more a solution that was meant to be housed centrally,” he said.

“A few years ago, the API embraced on implementing an ERP solution (Enterprise Resource Planning). An ERP is similar to a CRM (Customer Relationship Management), except it contains more functionality such as finance and resource planning. All major organisations use these systems, as would say the Commonwealth Bank and Qantas.

“The API required a solution that would facilitate a dispersed geographical style structure, delivering through the API's seven state based offices. A traditional system was not the answer, due to the high cost to implement and run, not to mention that the API operates out of seven individual buildings.”

He said the ‘traditional’ way of implementing would have been to source the appropriate number of servers, adequate resources and services, obtain a physical location, develop disaster recovery procedures (in case the internet and power goes down) and whole host of other issues.

“Overall you’re talking between $5,000 to $10,000 per server (depending on the depth of business continuity) and with a business the size of the API, the cost would easily be in the vicinity of a few hundred thousand dollars. The return on investment isn't worth the effort, the cost [in time and dollars] to develop, implement and maintain far out way its return.

“To resolve the issue of outlaying vast amounts of capital was to use existing infrastructure like the internet and pay for only what you use (not what you don't). A good analogy would be, if you were in a city like Sydney and needed to take a cab to the airport, you wouldn't buy the car and hire a driver. Instead, you hale a cab passing buy and pay for only what you use, ie the short distance to the airport.

The methodology the API implemented is known as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). So, instead of us going to that scenario of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars (just to host the business' ERP), we implemented IaaS and reserved a certain amount of capacity (these are known as instances) for only what we need. That is the basis of cloud computing or cloud solutions.”

Mr Leslie found the solution with Amazon Web Services (AWS) which leases the spare space on the servers housed in their many data centres. AWS is an integral part of Amazon, the world’s largest online organisation. In 2006, AWS began offering IT infrastructure services to businesses in the form of web services - cloud computing. As Mr Leslie explained, one of the main benefits of cloud computing is the opportunity to replace up-front capital infrastructure expenses with low variable costs that scale with your business. With the cloud, businesses no longer need to plan for and procure servers and other IT infrastructure. Instead, they can instantly ‘spin up’ hundreds or thousands of servers in minutes and deliver results faster.

AWS provides a highly reliable, scalable, low-cost infrastructure platform in the cloud that powers hundreds of thousands of businesses in 190 countries around the world. With data centre locations in the US, Europe, Brazil, Singapore, Japan, and now Australia, customers across all industries are taking advantage of the following benefits:

  • Low cost
  • Agility and instant elasticity
  • Open and flexible
  • Secure
Late last year AWS announced the availability of its new Asia Pacific (Sydney) region. Customers, including the API, can run their applications and workloads in the new region to reduce latency to end-users based in Australia and New Zealand, while avoiding the up-front expenses, long-term commitments, and scaling challenges associated with maintaining and operating their own infrastructure. Sydney joins Singapore and Tokyo as the third region in Asia Pacific and as the ninth region worldwide.