MYOB is a leading provider of online business management solutions to 1.2 million small and medium businesses and accountants in public practice across Australia and New Zealand. Headquartered in Melbourne, MYOB has approximately 1,300 employees and a network of 40,000 accountants, bookkeepers, and other professional partners. In 2015, MYOB won the prestigious “Most Innovative Large Company” award from Australian business magazine BRW, and earned a Canstar Blue four-star customer satisfaction rating for small business accounting software.
Constantly available services needed for customer confidence.
Businesses rely on MYOB’s business solutions to undertake activities such as accounting, payroll, customer relationship management, retail point of sale, job management, and tax administration. MYOB was one of the first companies in Australia to recognise that the cloud was the future for its business. “We have a culture of innovation and experimentation, so we were prepared to trial new technologies and opportunities,” says Adam Ferguson, general manager, engineering and experience at MYOB. The business needed an infrastructure that could scale cost-effectively to support customer demand for new and existing services, and maintain availability at a level that gives customers confidence that MYOB’s services would be constantly available.
Migrating to AWS for a cost-effective and scalable solution.
MYOB started running its websites on Amazon Web Services (AWS) in 2011. Two years later, it built its online enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution, MYOB Advanced, on AWS because of its experience with the cloud-service provider. “When we started developing the ERP solution, we evaluated a hosting provider as well as a number of cloud-service providers, including AWS,” says Trevor Leybourne, product development manager at MYOB. “We realised that running our own hardware, software, and systems in a third-party datacentre was not an option for us because of the expense and management involved.” The business conducted a thorough review of AWS and another cloud product, including comprehensive performance testing, before deciding on AWS. “AWS has a Sydney Region, which is very important to us from a product performance and a latency perspective. Our customers are in Australia and New Zealand, and data sovereignty was also a concern. We also wanted to use a range of flexible cloud services to optimise the ability of the system to meet customer needs.” (Trevor Leybourne)
MYOB is now using Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) to run the relational database component of MYOB Advanced, while Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) provides horizontal and vertical scalability for the company’s application servers. Amazon Route 53 operates as a scalable Domain Name System web service.
MYOB has also migrated its PayGlobal Online hosted service for larger clients from a physical datacenter to AWS. “When the existing hardware reached end-of-life in July, we had to rebuild the infrastructure or migrate the service to AWS. We didn’t want to be locked into buying new hardware and wanted the ability to scale easily. We also wanted the infrastructure running the service to be located in Australia rather than New Zealand. It was a no-brainer to move the service to AWS.” (Trevor Leybourne)
MYOB obtained assistance from New Zealand business Fronde to design the infrastructure for PayGlobal Online, while its own team undertook the management and migration. “AWS has been proactive in linking us up with vendors and partners to help us utilise our infrastructure more effectively. These partners include Itoc — a business that specialises in ensuring we’re managing our AWS resources efficiently and cost-effectively.” (Adam Ferguson)
The AWS services used to deliver MYOB Advanced are just a small subset of the wide range of AWS services being used by MYOB. “With our different solutions that have different go-to-market strategies, we may use different combinations of AWS services to deliver them effectively. We have probably used most of the services that AWS offers in one form or another across our various solutions.” (Trevor Leybourne)
These include experimenting with advanced services such as Amazon Machine Learning on MYOB Hack Days — at which ideas are brainstormed, developed, delivered, and connected with the assistance of AWS technical team member - to build smart applications incorporating predictive analytics. “One example is an experiment we ran to use Amazon Machine Learning to predict the number of calls that our call centre could expect to receive on any given day,” says Leybourne. “We used existing data and forecasts and built predictive models; we found the results were in line with what actually happened. This type of technology could, in the future, be used within some of our products to manage events such as seasonal stock demands.”
MYOB also uses AWS CloudFormation scripts to create new AWS environments in the event of a disaster, while Amazon CloudWatch provides monitoring and alert services across MYOB’s applications and AWS environments. “We now have a wide range of AWS services to manage our environments, reduce cost, provide more scalability and more reliability, and deliver better products to our customers.” (Adam Ferguson)
MYOB uses AWS Support with the Enterprise support plan and Leybourne is extremely pleased with the outcome. “The performance of AWS has been very good — I’ve managed a few incidents where we’ve logged cases and the response time has been very quick,” he says. “One of the key things about Enterprise support is that it gives you the ability to pick up the phone and call a technical account manager. These experts provide immediate support as required, and will analyse our architecture with our team to look at best practices and recommend changes to reduce costs or optimise performance.”
Ability to scale with AWS infrastructure to align with demand.
"Using AWS, I can shut down surplus capacity when demand is negligible. This capability, combined with the use of reserved Amazon EC2 instances for a year or more at a discounted rate, reduces our infrastructure costs by about 30 percent." (Trevor Leybourne)
MYOB has worked closely with AWS to maintain its infrastructure costs as more customers adopt MYOB’s cloud-based business management software. “We track cost-to-serve pretty closely, and look at our costs in absolute terms as well. We receive very strong support from our senior executives as they welcome the value AWS provides.” (Adam Ferguson)
Leybourne acknowledges that AWS is more cost-effective than a physical infrastructure, particularly when taking into account the expense of procuring and installing hardware. “If I build my own datacentre, I need to buy enough hardware to support demand peaks. But most of the time, I would have surplus capacity.” (Trevor Leybourne)
The scalability provided by AWS has helped MYOB support growing customer demand for new products such as MYOB Advanced. “Since we launched the product 18 months ago, we had exceptional growth of 204 percent year on year. We’ve been able to scale and grow the AWS infrastructure to align with demand, which we would never have been able to do if we were buying our own hardware.” (Trevor Leybourne)
Infrastructure availability has been well within MYOB’s requirements at more than 99.9 percent. MYOB has only experienced one infrastructure outage since starting to use AWS five years ago, and Ferguson applauds the cloud-service provider’s response. “AWS responded very well in terms of explaining what had happened and remediating the problem¾since then, availability has been very good.”
MYOB is extremely pleased with the performance of AWS and plans to continue using AWS tools and functionality to deliver new services and capabilities. “We’re using AWS across several products at the moment and plan to expand this in the future.” (Adam Ferguson)