A leading provider of business continuity, information security, IT disaster recovery, and cloud systems needed a new customer-facing portal that would allow customers to use its public cloud infrastructure for developing, running and testing new applications. The company’s goal was to go beyond the offerings of its competitors by layering on additional management capabilities, eventually unifying all of its customer portals into a single portal.

The Challenge

The company wanted an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) solution that would allow customers to provision cloud infrastructure in minutes instead of days and provide a significant competitive advantage over competitors like AWS. In addition, they wanted capabilities like self-service to reduce support staff costs and allow customers to scale up quickly, providing new higher-margin revenue opportunities.

The company’s old portal had no self-service capabilities, so any time a customer wanted to provision a server they had to request one from an administrator. The company turned to PromptWorks for help because they had the programming skills and expertise in Agile that would allow the client to break out of a waterfall process and develop the new portal quickly and efficiently.

Strategic Execution at Work

The client selected PromptWorks for the firm’s DevOps and Agile experience as well as their efficient and flexible approach to application development – a key requirement because of often late-breaking changes to requirements and business rules.

For the customer portal, PromptWorks was able to develop a solution with the foundational features and functions in just four months for demonstration at the client’s annual sales meeting. Within a year, PromptWorks had enhanced the portal to accept credit cards, convert existing customers to the new solution, and extend the portal across multiple regions. They also were able to work around various backend performance challenges and toggle features on and off in real time.

Screenshot from OpenStack Horizon

PromptWorks employed a test-driven development process, allowing them to release code to the client’s Quality Assurance team with high confidence and few regressions. They also customized an in-house continuous integration and deployment pipeline so product managers could try out new features immediately and offer rapid feedback.

Eventually, the client decided to move its entire infrastructure from a CloudStack platform to OpenStack, and because of PromptWorks’ performance in developing the first portal they turned to them for help with this evolution. The client had a super-aggressive timeline, so in response to their directive to “get creative,” PromptWorks proposed building the new portal on top of OpenStack’s existing user interface, ensuring the product would be familiar to users already working with OpenStack and that the client could meet their deadline.

Using test-driven development and pair programming, the PromptWorks team again used an Agile process with continuous deployment and was able to make the solution generally available in September of 2015. PromptWorks is now iterating on the second version of the dashboard, incorporating managed services and hosted private cloud options.

The Results

Despite very aggressive schedules, PromptWorks was able to deliver the solutions the client needed on time and within their budgetary constraints. By employing an Agile process that allowed the client to review progress on a weekly or biweekly basis, PromptWorks was able to significantly reduce development time and story churn. With the self-service capabilities incorporated in the portal, customers can now provision their own VMs in minutes instead of placing requests and then waiting days.