Centage needed to migrate its on-premises financial intelligence solution to AWS to reduce IT costs while maintaining application performance for customers. After a failed engagement with another partner, Centage turned to Mission to re-architect the development, staging, test, performance and production infrastructures of its application. In the first 12 months, Mission also containerized the application and databases, created a fully-tested disaster recovery plan, and helped Centage achieve SOC2 compliance. In addition, the Infrastructure-as-Code environment created by Mission automates configuring compute resources.
With Centage then realizing it needed more help than initially thought and valuing Mission’s expertise in AWS, Centage now relies on Mission for additional cloud services. Mission Cloud One monitors the infrastructure for developing issues and alerts while analyzing for cost-optimization opportunities. Centage has also ensured application performance meets customer expectations—with uptime consistently running at nearly 100 percent. At the same time, right-sizing EC2 instances reduced IT costs between 50-60% while optimized reserved instances generated an additional 10-15% in cost savings. Centage has also reduced the cost of DevOps management, 24/7 monitoring, and cost analysis by 40% compared to hiring full-time IT resources while also decreasing production deployment times from 8-12 hours down to minutes. With the front-line infrastructure support and monitoring provided by Mission, the internal Centage team can now focus more time on enhancing customer applications.
"Mission is a great partner to turn to. They're constantly there, and they never force us to do things their way. They allow us to do things our way while advising us on alternatives—but ultimately working with the approach we want to take. They go beyond just doing things to also teaching us best practices that will ultimately strengthen our cloud knowledge.”
Director, Site Reliability Engineering
Centage came to Mission in the midst of developing a new version of their application, Planning Maestro 2019 and wanted to migrate it on AWS. The company was seeking to take advantage of the capabilities the cloud offers—including the ability to quickly roll out feature enhancements to customers, update application code faster, and scale compute resources easily as the customer base grows. Centage also looked to the cloud to reduce the cost of their IT infrastructure supporting the application.
After choosing to deploy Planning Maestro on AWS, Centage found a cloud partner to help plan and support the migration. However, after discovering the initial partner could not deliver the expertise and level of service Centage required, Robert Hocking, the Director of Site Reliability Engineering for Centage, decided to look for a new, more knowledgeable partner.
“Software development companies like ours require a partner with high-level cloud platform skills,” Hocking says. “It takes specific expertise to know how to architect a cloud infrastructure and to configure all the services AWS offers to ensure applications deliver fast performance, scale easily, and remain secure from unauthorized access. That’s what we hoped to find in a new partner.”
While Centage needed to find a new partner to help migrate and support Planning Maestro in the cloud, Hocking never wavered from appreciating the value of running the application on the AWS platform. Centage also runs environments on Microsoft Azure and Oracle Cloud but finds AWS easier to use.
Hocking adds that AWS makes it simpler to scale compute resources and offers a wider range of cloud technologies, which Centage can tap into when needed. He has also found AWS to cost less than other cloud platforms.
“We don’t need every AWS service, but we know AWS can cover anything we might require—whether it’s load balancing, database integrations, security, and other IT services,” Hocking points out. “It's also easier to find technical resources who know AWS—there’s a bigger pool of potential employees and a larger set of partners. That’s an important consideration for any technology we adopt.”
As for finding the right AWS partner, Centage turned to Mission, which emerged as the leading candidate after Centage received a referral from another company that relied on Mission to manage a similar migration to AWS. In the initial discussion between the two companies, Mission impressed Hocking by emphasizing the need to follow industry standards and to implement repeatable processes.
Another key capability Mission brought to the table was knowledge of best practices for implementing DevOps processes in the cloud. “We needed to fully embrace DevOps to accelerate rolling out new applications and updating existing software code,” Hocking explains. “Mission conveyed their knowledge of DevOps and showed us how we could adopt the approach for our AWS environment.”
Mission also offered the ability to monitor and maintain the Centage cloud environment as well as optimize compute resources for cost efficiencies and manage reserved instances. “With Mission, we gained a partner that serves as an extension of our IT team to not only help implement DevOps best practices, but also various strategic initiatives,” Hocking says. “These include implementing microservices and Kubernetes containers as well as SOC 2 certification and disaster recovery.”
"The Mission team knows what they’re talking about, and they established personal connections with us that make our partnership function more efficiently. If I could, I would hire all of them to work for us as full-time employees!”
Director, Site Reliability Engineering
Centage started with Mission’s Managed DevOps service where Mission DevOps engineers re-architected the entire AWS infrastructure Centage had started building with its previous partner. The improved infrastructure spans development, staging, test, performance and production environments, and it features AWS services that include Elastic Cloud Compute (EC2), Elastic Load Balancing (ELB) and Simple Storage Service (S3). Within the environment, Mission implemented microservices using Kubernetes to containerize Apache Tomcat and MongoDB, which both run on Amazon EC2.
Mission also implemented Infrastructure-as-Code (using Terraform), which enabled Centage to launch production deployments in a matter of minutes. “We particularly appreciate how Mission automated a lot of the processes for reconfiguring our AWS environment when needed,” Hocking adds. “This speeds things up when we expand our AWS footprint, which Mission helped us do when we started provisioning our application from an AWS data center in Canada.”
Another vital area Mission DevOps assisted with was getting the MongoDB database that feeds information to the financial application to work properly. The Mission and Centage teams collaborated to determine the production version of MongoDB needed to be hosted by MongoDB (to meet data recovery objectives) while the development, staging and test environments would remain hosted by AWS.
“This approach required detailed planning, and Mission helped us execute the move to having MongoDB host the database in less than 48 hours,” Hocking says. “This shows the flexibility of Mission in providing the technology combination that’s necessary to meet our requirements. They did a great job at integrating the production version of MongoDB with our AWS environment so data exchanges with our front-end applications run smoothly.”
Centage also approached Mission’s Managed DevOps to build out a disaster recovery (DR) environment. Mission wrote the disaster recovery plan, and within one month, Centage had a complete DR environment with cross-region replication. Lastly, Mission’s Managed DevOps made sure the new AWS environment was SOC 2 compliant.
Once Planning Maestro began running on AWS, Hocking and his team no longer had to worry about application downtime; system uptime has consistently stayed at nearly 100 percent. As a result, Centage expanded its partnership with Mission to use the managed cloud provider’s other services such as Mission Cloud One, Mission Cloud Foundation, and Mission RIO (Reserved Instance Optimization), where Mission monitors the AWS environment for developing issues, runs analysis to identify opportunities to optimize the cost of AWS resources, and manages reserved instances on behalf of Centage. Through all these offerings, Mission serves as an extension of the Centage IT team to make sure Planning Maestro performs up to customer expectations.
“The recommendations Mission made to right-size our EC2 instances initially cut our IT costs between 50-60%,” says Hocking. “And through RIO, Mission performed analysis to identify an additional 10-15% savings each month. We are well under budget every month for our production costs.”
Production deployments have also accelerated. Before, deployments took hours, but now they only take a few minutes. The deployments require just a push of a button for the Centage team rather than manually shutting down services and moving compute resources. With this automation and the first line of support that Mission provides by monitoring the system and triaging alerts, the Centage team can focus more time on enhancing customer applications.
“We can also sleep much better!” Hocking adds. “We don't have to investigate when alarms go off because we know Mission is there and will take care of it. Anytime an issue occurs, before we even start to look into it, Mission has already figured it out within minutes.”
Hocking also points out that partnering with Mission costs considerably less than hiring full-time in-house staff to manage DevOps, provide 24/7 system monitoring, and conduct cost analysis. “Compared to what we would likely spend on employee salaries every year to get the same level of skills in-house, using Mission resources cuts our costs by more than 40 percent,”
“Their team offers a wide range of expertise that’s difficult to find. By partnering with Mission, we get a full staff of AWS experts at a fraction of the cost of employing similar staff with AWS expertise.”
Director, Site Reliability Engineering
Centage Corporation develops automated budgeting and planning software solutions for mid-market organizations. Their intelligent planning, budgeting and forecasting software, Planning Maestro, has transformed how more than 10,000 users budget, forecast and report on performance for their companies. The platform delivers sophisticated financial intelligence that customers can implement quickly at an affordable price. And with a direct, line-of-sight into financial health, Centage customers can react quickly to market changes, take intelligent risks, and capitalize on new opportunities.