Tuesday, 29 November 2016 12:01

Xero completes massive, two-year transition to AWS Featured


Accounting software provider Xero has completed a two-year transition of its entire platform to Amazon Web Services (AWS), with more than 59 billion records, 3000 apps and 120 databases transferred.

Xero says the transition marks one of the “largest data migrations into the AWS cloud infrastructure environment across Australia and New Zealand” which has taken just over two years to be architected and executed – and over that time it claims nearly half a million new customers were added.

According to Xero, it has recorded more than $1 trillion over 450 million ingoing and outgoing transactions in 12 months, signifying just how large its dataset has become.

Xero chief platform and product officer, Duncan Ritchie says as Xero scales to serve "millions of customers", rebuilding the infrastructure behind the platform will enable the company to leverage machine learning technology, and deliver fast-paced innovation, improved margins and increased uptime.

Ritchie says that while completing the move to AWS, Xero has shipped thousands of product features and updates.

“Our focus on completing one of the largest data migrations to the AWS platform sets Xero up to deliver fast-paced innovation, leverage machine learning technology, improve margins, increase uptime and security and drive better business outcomes to help small businesses flourish.

"It is a huge achievement to get through this massive transition. We expect all business software vendors to re-platform over the next few years so they too may take advantage of the commoditised innovation services in the larger public cloud platforms,” Ritchie says.

According to Xero, the migration to AWS sets the company up to accelerate innovation and capitalise on machine learning, which it believes will “redefine accounting in future years”.

Ritchie says the smart application of machine-learning technology enables Xero to leverage the more than 1.4 petabytes of data, which is the equivalent of about 60,000 Blu-Ray movies, being stored and to “do something powerful” – automate core accounting functionalities and enable business owners to work more efficiently.

According to Ritchie, Xero can leverage the considerable investment AWS has made in platform services to build and deploy software with shorter delivery timeframes – and by using the on-demand computing power of AWS it can release new software more rapidly, and experiment with these features in “ways that were not possible on our older platform”.

Ritchie says that as Xero works towards its goal of “reaching a million customers”, it needed to scale its platform globally to provide customers with a “fast, secure and easily accessible cloud platform they can access anytime, from any device connected to the Internet”.

“AWS provided us with significant potential to continually improve the underlying technologies that help Xero function.

“Under the hood, we actually have an increasing number of services that work together to deliver a customer experience. A key driver of our decision to move to AWS was to move technology decisions down into the hands of small autonomous groups of developers, and to allow greater experimentation with technology, allowing Xero to solve customer problems faster.

“As a result, operating margins are expected to improve as benefits from the AWS migration and economies of scale drive further efficiencies. The company continues to remain focused on managing the business to cash flow break-even within the current cash balance.

“Without legacy systems and enabled by a comprehensive migration to the public cloud via AWS, the Xero platform will be able to capitalise on global scale and incremental product growth to deliver innovative services.”


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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).



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