CUSTOMER’S BUSINESS: FundApps offers a web-based service that allows fund managers to keep their portfolios in compliance with international regulations.
CHALLENGES: FundApps’ blue-chip customers prioritize security and are wary of new technologies.
BUSINESS OUTCOME: FundApps meets high security standards while easily onboarding new clients.
Based in London, FundApps offers a web-based service that allows fund managers to keep their portfolios in compliance with constantly evolving international regulations. As a startup in a segment dominated by on-premise solutions, FundApps must deliver continuous updates and utility pricing with the performance and reliability of enterprise-class software. Connecting cloud and dedicated servers in the Rackspace Hybrid Cloud allows FundApps to achieve this, resulting in a lightweight SaaS offering that meets the both the needs of a growing startup and the security standards of blue-chip clientele.
FundApps knew they would outsource their infrastructure from the beginning. “Banks should do banking, software companies should build software, and hosting companies should host,” says FundApps CEO Andrew White. “Everybody has a core competency, and they should stick to it.”
“Before we had our first client, we knew that we needed to have a very secure and robust offering, so we chose Rackspace straight away,” he says. “We had the contract in place before the first client signed, so that when that happened, we were ready to get started very quickly.”
FundApps CTO James Crowley believes that choosing Rackspace has given them an edge in winning customer trust. “We’re a software house and we do software well,” he says. “We’re not networking experts, we’re not physical security experts or hardware experts. We’d much rather have someone that’s an industry leader doing that for us, and I think that gives our clients more confidence in our solution as well.”
“Our clients are blue-chip fund managers and hedge funds, so the Rackspace name and certifications are very important for our clients,” White says. “Our customers want reassurance that Rackspace knows what they’re doing and are doing it well. For some customers that includes drilling into the details of how the data centers are set up, our incident response procedures, et cetera. Rackspace is great at helping us deal with those kind of questions.”
Though FundApps is the only web-based startup in the compliance space, the field is crowded. White says, “We have a lot of competitors, but they’re the traditional dinosaurs of the industry — they’re heavy, monolithic architectures that take ages to install and configure. It’s a very new space to actually bring the old-school technology onto a web platform.”
Crowley says, “Working in the finance sector, security is always going to be a key point we are going to be grilled on. We wanted to have the best possible solution out there. At the same time, as a web-based service and as a startup wanting to grow, we needed the flexibility to be able to bring on new customers and therefore bring on new server capacity quickly.”
“We decided to go with a hybrid solution with RackConnect® because it offered the best of both worlds: you’ve got dedicated servers for your customer data, but then you’ve also got that flexibility to spin up extra cloud instances,” he says. “That works quite well for us, and customers like it from a due diligence point of view as well.”
Rackspace Hybrid Cloud allows FundApps to leverage the flexibility of cloud without losing the trust of customers accustomed to dedicated environments. “Some of our customers are wary of cloud, which they see as a shiny new technology,” says Crowley. “In the long term we see everything moving to cloud, but in the short term, as a startup with customers with very specific requirements, we’re always going to be pragmatic. We see the hybrid model as a stepping stone to full cloud when our customers’ attitudes evolve.”
FundApps will be able to move more workloads to cloud as customers become more comfortable with it, but for now, a hybrid architecture gives their customers peace of mind. “We essentially have a straightforward, three-tiered architecture with logical separation between them to give us the security that we need,” he says. “We have a cloud tier of web servers that serve our web application, we have a dedicated database tier that stores the customer data, and then we have another set of servers that execute rules against our database. When we get a new portfolio from a customer, the relevant rules are applied and monitored, the results of which end up in the web front end.”
FundApps sees large potential for future growth in shifting customer attitudes. Crowley says, “We’re finding increasingly that the people we’re speaking to are realizing not only the cost benefit of our offering, but also the advantage of having these constantly changing rules on their system the next day, as opposed to waiting six months or a year for the software release cycle. We think the industry’s going to realize that, and we’re hoping to grow and take advantage of that as we go.”
“We’re already getting some great customers on board,” he says, “and we’re just going to keep improving the product and improving the platform and bit by bit. Over time, we will distance ourselves from our competitors in compliance space who are still very much stuck in the old-model world.”
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