The story behind Ezypay's cloud communications migration

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This article appeared in the November 2014 issue of CRN magazine.

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The story behind Ezypay's cloud communications migration
Andrew Sjoquist and Andrew So
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With more than 2,000 businesses using Ezypay to manage billing for their customers, the company is at the forefront of the direct debiting business in Australia. Ezypay recently enlisted Sydney-based provider ASE IT to overhaul its infrastructure, including a new unified communications system and co-location environment. CRN sat down with ASE IT’s chief executive, Andrew Sjoquist, and Ezypay infrastructure manager Andrew So to learn more. 

Tell us a little about Ezypay

Andrew So: Ezypay is an outsourced direct debiting company that manages predominantly the fitness industry – gyms and the like. So we are business-to-business, but we also have our end customers, the gym members, calling through to make changes to their accounts.

Our main service is our direct debiting service. We will facilitate the debiting of a member’s fee, and then we’ll distribute those funds back into the businesses, which will generally be the gyms. Anything that has a regular subscription service is a business that we would target and look into.

What was the trigger for the rollout?

Andrew So: We were moving to a new premises within Chatswood [on Sydney’s lower north shore]. It gave us an opportunity to look at our WAN connections and our current telephony platform. We knew we had some growth plans, so we needed to have the right solution in place to be able to support that. ASE IT came in and suggested a few different solutions for us in terms of how we can centralise our telephony and eliminate some of the risks that we had by having equipment at our local office and centralise them back into a data centre. We have a little contact centre in our office to take inbound calls predominantly.

What about your storage and server infrastructure?

Andrew So: Our core system is really around the management of those payments and transactions. [The critical IT infrastructure] is the storage, the scheduling, the intricacies around how schedules can be created, fail payments occur. Where a lot of our value-add comes into it is the smarts around how we do the direct debits and collect the funds, schedule in fail payments
or rebuilds, and ways we can also help businesses collect the money.

Where do cloud services come into this?

Andrew So: We developed a new software product called iconnect360. It’s membership management software; like a CRM but specifically for membership management. It seamlessly integrates the management of a gym with the billing. Previous to that it was all client server software – we wanted to deliver this software from the cloud. Prior to that they had to set up a direct debit with a debiting company like Ezypay. So there was a fair bit of double entry. There wasn’t any integration between the two systems.

How was your previous UC system holding you back?

Andrew So: The previous solution we had was an old TDM Avaya telephone system that didn’t have the reporting capabilities, didn’t have the ability to blend the calls, or set up the right sort of routing. We wanted a full contact centre so we could do a lot of the different mediums. We’re not just talking voice – we’re talking the potential to outbound and to do call backs; the potential to be able to receive emails. It was really around getting a unified contact centre, with the full suite of products in place.

What was deployed?

Andrew Sjoquist: We embarked on discussions around architecture – mainly from a geographical point of view to start with. That was to encompass the new Chatswood office and the Malaysian development office as well, and to make sure that each of those sites were connected appropriately with sufficient bandwidth and able to withstand failure. We needed to make sure that there was reliable access to the internet for the services being delivered over the internet. For the Chatswood office we’ve used metro Ethernet fibre services (which is an ASE Cloud Connect product) to connect it to the co-located services which are based here at Equinix.

The very first piece of work that we did was to make sure that the site in Chatswood was still able to connect to its existing infrastructure that was previously in-house and now was being stored in a co-located facility [in Equinix]. We’ve done that at 1GB speed, so it’s effectively the same user experience as they had when the equipment was within the offices in Chatswood. I don’t think anyone even noticed the difference. 

From a risk point of view, the facility or the core service and other bits of infrastructure that process payments and deliver services to the internet, are protected environmentally via generators and redundant power systems and all the other good things you get inside a data centre.

Can you tell us about the hardware?

Andrew So: We have an IBM Bladecenter H with all blades running VMware vSphere, all connected to an EMC VNX5300 SAN. We run Cisco routers and firewalls in our co-location facility, which is complemented by the ASE IT equipment.

Basically, we don’t have any servers on-premise. We have a couple of very small file servers sitting on-premise, but we’ve centralised all of our equipment into the co-lo, connected all via the metro Ethernet that ASE IT provides.

What does the UC platform look like?

Andrew Sjoquist: The connectivity platform is our Cloud Connect platform. [It includes] Cisco Unified Contact Manager, Unified Contact Centre Express, Unified Unity, Cisco Jabber instant messaging and there’s also integration with the Microsoft Exchange Platform for voice mail.

ASE core infrastructure for Cloud Connect is built on Cisco, including the Cisco 2900 series, ISR G2s.

Next: Behind the benefits 

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