Protegra delivers software solutions to organizations around the world. It recently established a software-as-a-service line of business, Blue Canvas, to offer work management and payroll services and plans to grow by 700 percent over the next five years. To make this happen, Protegra needed a virtualized data center with rock-solid uptime, robust scalability, and hybrid-cloud compute capacity. It found its solution in a TeraGo Networks data center powered by VMware technology.
Founded in 1998 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Protegra offers services to software-driven businesses that deliver solutions throughout Canada, United States, Europe, and Japan. Protegra builds custom applications for organizations and individuals to solve business problems in many different industries, including financial services and government.
Protegra launched its Blue Canvas business in 2015 for customers to manage payroll, scheduling, time and attendance, and customizable reporting in the cloud. Blue Canvas says its platform is the most modern, secure, and state-of-the-art in Canada, serving more than 20,000 employees across more than 500 organizations.
Software consulting is a business with relatively uneven revenue flow. After operating exclusively as a software consulting firm, Protegra decided to create its Blue Canvas service organization to help even out its bottom line with recurring revenue and to become more intimate with customers.
“We wanted monthly recurring revenue as well as consulting revenue,” says Frank Conway, product manager at Protegra. “We wanted the Blue Canvas business to smooth out our revenue flow. Knowing that our platform and capabilities are solid, entering the payroll business made sense.”
Protegra has long relied on virtualization in its software development projects and it similarly wanted its Blue Canvas application to be independent of any particular hardware solution. The company also wanted built-in scalability, and it knew virtualization would enable fast ramping up and out with no downtime. Finally, Protegra wanted a robust public data center that could deliver the uptime Blue Canvas needs to process payroll for all of its customers on time.
In addition to growing Blue Canvas by 700 percent in the next five years, Protegra plans to compete with payroll giants like ADP and Ceridian, so it needed an infrastructure it could trust to scale capably and aggressively.
Protegra researched data centers and cloud service providers throughout Canada and ultimately chose TeraGo, a Premier-level service provider in the VMware vCloud® Air Network™ program. It made the decision based on the promise of easy scalability, powerful throughput, and consistent uptime. “And, to be honest, in the beginning we were experiencing downtime because we were using Microsoft’s Hyper-V platform,” Conway says. “But the move to the VMware-based platform has been much more stable and we’ve been very happy.”
TeraGo’s data centers are powered by a range of VMware technologies. The VMware vSphere® platform is the foundation for the cloud environment, delivering performance, availability, and efficiency. The VMware vCloud Director® solution enables TeraGo to offer differentiated cloud services that are inherently hybrid-aware. And everything is centrally managed from the VMware vCenter Server® console.
TeraGo works with Protegra to ensure that it always has the right infrastructure and service levels for its needs. “The service we get from TeraGo is phenomenal,” Conway says. “We have access to support people almost immediately. TeraGo manages as much of the infrastructure as we want and gives us the level of control we need to keep our operating systems stable. For instance, we want to do our operating system patching ourselves, and we have that flexibility with TeraGo.”
Customer satisfaction is key to Blue Canvas’ continued growth. “We want to give our customers the ability to manage their payroll data on their schedule, not our schedule,” Conway says. “Our customers expect to be able to log on to the system and do their work whenever and wherever it is convenient for them—even on the beach. TeraGo and VMware are instrumental in making sure that can happen.”
With validated cloud services based on VMware technology, TeraGo can offer clients like Protegra rock-solid reliability. “I never even think about instability in the system because of my confidence in TeraGo and VMware and the underlying infrastructure,” Conway says. “It just works—and works perfectly. We promise 99.99 percent uptime to our customers, and we always exceed that, thanks to TeraGo and VMware.”
The natural peaks and valleys of the payroll cycle mean that there are some days when traffic is slow and other days when a lot of customers access services at the same time. But capacity is never an issue because TeraGo and VMware can provide whatever Blue Canvas needs, at just a moment’s notice.
That flexibility also offers Protegra’s Blue Canvas division the ability to add resources as it quickly increases its customer base. With TeraGo and VMware, Conway knows he can replicate an environment in a matter of minutes and have it up and running in a matter of hours.
Another big benefit for Blue Canvas is that TeraGo operates a VMware-based cloud in Canada. Many Blue Canvas customers want to keep their data—which includes sensitive banking and employee information—inside Canada, where it is not subject to laws like the U.S. Patriot Act. Having a Canadian data center provides data security and privacy peace of mind.
Conway says that Protegra has huge confidence in TeraGo and VMware, and the solid services they provide have allowed the company to earn the confidence of its own customers. “They get reliable results and high performance, and that’s exactly what they want,” Conway says.
In the near future, Blue Canvas plans to augment its current disaster recovery strategy by adding additional data center failover capabilities. It will deploy in a third location in Canada to serve as a disaster recovery site and thereafter expand heavily into new regions throughout Canada. “Having data centers located closer to our customers is very beneficial in terms of response times, and we can leverage additional TeraGo data centers in many different regions,” Conway says.