Mortgage broker Mortgage Choice has decided that cloud computing is a central part of its future IT plans, with CIO Neill Rose-Innes declaring the company’s strategy is “always to consider software-as-a-service or utility providers.”
The decision to always consider cloud computing came about after the company conducted a strategic review of its IT plans.
“About this time last year I sat down and looked at our technology strategy between now and 2012,” Rose-Inness told SearchCIO ANZ.
Cloud computing made sense because Mortgage Choice’s users are often franchisees that look to the company for IT services, but are not on-site.
“We have 1000 users and 90% are franchisees,” Rose-Innes explains. “They all remote back in” to access Mortgage Choice’s key applications. “We always installed a standard operating environment (SOE), but once we ship a device into the field anything can happen with it.” That “anything” translated into lots of work for the company’s IT team, as users’ PCs required maintenance for myriad reasons, while devising and deploying new SOEs was another time-consuming chore.
Rose-Inness was also concerned about future infrastructure costs.
“If we added 500 more users we would also need to add more infrastructure,” he says. “By going down utility computing path we go from capital expenditure to operational expenditure.” That shift, he adds, will result in some ongoing savings.
The company also gave cloud security considerable thought, as it wished to be certain that storing data in Google’s offshore data centres would not create legal problems.
“We did ask the question about given the data does not reside in our jurisdiction. We asked about the Patriot Act and the reality is it would require a subpoena [before the US government could access our data]. Google does not have the right to share the data and in our agreement with Google ownership of the data does not reside with Google. It has no right to mine or do anything with the data.”
Rose-Innes says Mortgage Choice also decided that Google could be trusted to keep the data secure. “It becomes a philosophical question: ‘Ddo we trust Google?’ Without having done a due diligence on their entire infrastructure, the answer was yes, because this is what they live and die by.”
The company is now using Google’s email, productivity applications and video-sharing tools, with the latter product being used to share training material throughout the company. Google Sites is also being used, with franchisees encouraged to develop their own applications using this tool.
The company is also moving some of its legacy applications, including some built in Notes, into the new environment.
“Llearning to live in a browser is something we need to do,” Rose-Innes says. “The younger generation already live in that world. Generation Y’s will be a large percentage of our workforce in a few years” and he is determined Mortgage Choice will be ready to accommodate their proclivities.