From legacy systems to cloud-based native microservices: finding success with AWS
That’s so 1990s – legacy system needed modernization
Successware is an end-to-end business management solution for the home service industry that supports both independent and franchise owners of the three trades brands franchised by affiliates of its parent company, Authority Brands, Inc. Successware Classic is a legacy software system built with Citrix, VDI, and SQL server hosted in a data center. This solution has been in place since the 1990s, and while it is a functionally rich application, it faced some challenges due to an aging technology stack, including long customer onboarding timeframes, difficult user experience, long feature development and rollout timeframes. This was not sustainable and required a major modernization effort to meet the needs of the business and its customers to remain competitive in the HVAC, electrical, and plumbing market segments.
Authority Brands, Successware and Protiviti embarked on a journey to completely modernize the current solution to leverage the latest cloud native technology and deliver a state-of-the-art solution to its customers. Prior to Amazon Web Services (AWS) third party integrations, the client faced periodic outages with current data center solution and latency in rolling out new features to its customers. With AWS, they could build a highly available and cost-effective solution. AWS cloud brought capabilities to modernize the platform, improve user experience and intuitiveness; leverage the cloud for hosting; integrate with third-party applications; provide a world class software-as-a-service (SaaS); and embrace an agile delivery methodology for frequent incremental updates; improving customer experience.
Successware is an end-to-end business management solution for the home service industry owned by parent company Authority Brands
1990s-era legacy software required a complete transformation
Implemented a cloud native approach and hosting using AWS
In just over 18 months, the company transformed its legacy application and package to a cloud-based application using a SaaS model.
Foundational business requirements
Successware recognized that, to onboard new customers, it would have to offer a standards-oriented API layer to accommodate for additional third-party integrations. With AWS, this new user experience would align to the best web and mobile application, while preserving and enhancing deep functionality. This addition would improve the efficiency of the workforce, decreasing the time required for onboarding and reducing the learning curve for new users. The new technology stack would also be an enabler to deliver continuous innovation for the business including, but not limited to, richer analytics and more automation.
One of the foundational business requirements was to build the application on a very modern technology stack, which would use open standards and be a long-term solution. Successware Classic featured many third-party application integrations, which complemented the core functionality. Successware and Authority Brands recognized the changing market and workplace and wanted to provide a platform that could be accessed from anywhere, at any time. The cloud approach leveraging AWS would also provide its customers better access, flexibility, reliability, availability, and increased measures to help ensure data security.
Successware and Protiviti collaborated on this project to combine intimate functional knowledge of the industry and customers’ needs, with deep expertise of modern technology standards, agile application development, intuitive user experience, and best practices of providing reliable and secure SaaS services on the cloud. The requirements mapping and prioritization was a very detail-oriented exercise. It was done by reviewing the available documents, conducting discovery sessions to extract the undocumented requirements and functionality of Successware Classic, and conducting numerous interviews with experienced system users.
By garnering a full understanding of the legacy application’s capabilities, Protiviti and Successware collectively created a plan and assembled a team to modernize the solution as a cloud native application and a micro services architecture. For example, Application Servers were broken into microservices and deployed in EKS with auto-scaling feature. In addition to leveraging Apache Nifi, provided by AWS marketplace for Analytics, AWS Rediscache, documentdb, SES, SNS for alerting, and S3 for static website hosting. Modernizing and transforming the application included creating a Java backend, building a CX frontend, and developing multi-tenant capabilities. The team leveraged a proven technology stack including Java, React, Spring Boot, Kubernetes, AWS RDS (PostgresSQL), Jenkins, Terraform, and more. The development team also included experts in user experience (UX) and used React for front-end webpages, so the newly transformed application would provide a more intuitive experience, as desired.
Built for a bright future
To achieve a world-class SaaS and cloud operation, the delivery solution included fundamental and foundational accelerators for change management, incident management, and more. This new cloud native technology and approach allows for a more sophisticated level of analytics with Apache NiFi than its legacy analytic solution. Analytic reports previously not available, prior to AWS cloud: jobs, invoices, job cost analysis, sales tracking, customer opportunities, and operational excellence. The solution now offers customers access to business metrics and KPIs in an impressive, easy-to-use analytics dashboard called Successware Insights™. Hosting via AWS allows Successware customers to benefit from the security standards and infrastructure that AWS offers. Successware follows the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Security Framework policies to help ensure customer data and information is secure. Successware’s cloud native hosting will lead to less downtime and more security for its customer data than its traditional hosting offered.
This delivery solution has completely transformed the Successware product suite, its user experience, and its delivery model (SaaS). The scope of this project has touched the entire organization - Successware as well as its parent company, Authority Brands, Inc. - because it is widely used throughout the organization. It is also going to transform the user experience and business operations for external customers, including the migrating of customers from Successware Classic to the new platform, and new customers because it will allow them to operate their businesses more efficiently and scale their business. This solution included almost every aspect of software development in a very agile schedule to ensure that all customer needs and functionality were met in the new platform. The new Successware platform and cloud native approach will assist in revolutionizing the way customers conduct business by offering secure data hosting, the freedom to work anywhere, and access to instant business metrics and financials
In just over 18 months, the company was able to transform and modernize its legacy application and package to the new cloud-based application using an SaaS model. The company also adopted newer technologies, agile methodologies, and best practices to expedite the building and modification of current and future applications. In addition, they could not execute SLAs, hindering business growth and development. Now, with AWS cloud, they can execute on SLAs to improve service levels for the SaaS application to 99.95% or higher. This new, improved delivery solution is expected to accelerate the user experience by reducing the onboarding and training time of new users by 25% and onboard customers in days not weeks. With AWS cloud solution, time is saved by not having to provision new hardware and can expand their resources in minutes. Business growth and customer satisfaction also improved significantly in the coming months based on early, enthusiastic customer response to the modernized solution and customer response surveys.
The initial project scope included many updates Successware wanted to make to its platform – enhance user experience, leverage the cloud, provide seamless integration with third-party integrations, embrace agile deliver methodology, and to provide a world-class SaaS operation – which have all been met in the new platform. Successware’s new software helps improve the way business owners view their financial statements, reports, and KPIs by offering all that information in one dashboard and streamlining how they conduct business. If a client runs multiple companies with Successware, they can see consolidated financial reporting for each of their businesses in one dashboard through Successware Insights™, giving them access to the health, productivity, and profitability of their overall business.
The use of technology open standards, proven stack components (minimizing proprietary/niche solutions), and agile methodology has accelerated the delivery of business value to the customer. The team can deliver monthly and quarterly releases as required. The new SaaS application is also expected to make Successware highly competitive in the marketplace with its competitors and other field service management software organizations, while also allowing the company to offer new services.
Protiviti is a global consulting firm that delivers deep expertise, objective insights, a tailored approach, and unparalleled collaboration to help leaders confidently face the future. Our consulting solutions span critical business problems in technology, business process, analytics, risk, compliance, transactions, and internal audit. Protiviti is an established Global AWS Advance Tier Partner and is an active member of the AWS Partner Network (APN).
Successware’s new platform and cloud native approach will revolutionize the way its customers conduct business by offering secure data hosting, the freedom to work anywhere, and access to instant business metrics and financials.