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Case Study

Case Study: Channel IQ Tackles Online Retail Intelligence . . .

. . . with Tier 3’s Cloud Solution

As a provider of online retail intelligence solutions for manufacturers, distributors and retailers, Channel IQ strives to give customers the real-time pricing and promotion information online so they can profitably handle channel issues and competitive situations.

Channel IQ's mission is to provide the easiest access to the best online product data. As a result, we decided to look for an on-demand cloud delivery model in order to make our services more accessible and affordable. We knew that transforming our SaaS software offering into a cloud-based solution for our customers would help us accomplish this.

First, we needed to migrate our existing application to a secure, multi-tenant environment that enabled Channel IQ to serve multiple customers without costly re-architecting of our application, and without having to manage the complexities of many existing cloud platforms. My goal was to ensure my team could focus on our customers, on data quality and on delivering a great application and experience - not managing infrastructure. We needed to ensure that we had top notch SLAs to pass on to our customers.

As we evaluated our options, however, we quickly found that several core pieces of our technology would be difficult to migrate onto stock managed service infrastructure or cloud configurations. As a result, we hit a few stumbling blocks during our search for the right cloud provider: we tested solutions from all of the leading cloud players, but none met our requirements of serving up our production application with unlimited scalability and 99.95 percent uptime.

We spent a lot of time, looked at numerous solutions, but we were continually limited by the database layer. Ultimately, we wanted to be able to scale our business up to any degree without having to worry about buying and maintaining hardware and licensing software. We were looking for the flexibility of the cloud, but also the scalability, performance and security of traditional on-premise enterprise offerings.

An Enterprise Grade Cloud
When we discovered Tier 3's cloud platform, we knew we were looking at a solution that was much different than those that had failed the pre-testing process. Tier 3 is a Platform as a Service (PaaS) and a natural complement to a SaaS company like Channel IQ. Not only did the platform meet our scaling and uptime parameters, but it also provided levels of flexibility and database-level performance that no other cloud solution could match.

We're a high-speed, data-driven company. The last thing we can afford to have is any level of latency in terms of data delivery to our customers. Leveraging our native platform's high performance storage architecture, Tier 3's enterprise cloud platform also exceeded our database storage and performance goals. This was a critical point for Channel IQ, since we currently store hundreds of millions of data points per month, and expect that number to multiply quickly in line with our rapid growth. The server throughput with the Tier 3 platform was much more consistent and faster than our existing, dedicated servers and a big improvement over the other tested environments.

New Business Agility
Channel IQ operates in an environment where the ability to bring new customers online quickly and getting systems and software installed and up and running quickly are critical. That ability has improved significantly as a result of the Tier 3 enterprise cloud platform implementation. We needed to enable new customer onboarding as soon as we've signed the contract. To support it, we had to fire up specific server instances for software. The customers were ready within an hour.

Thanks to the cloud platform, we are able to focus on our core competencies, which include data acquisition, management and delivery for our users. The scale, timeliness and scope of our data monitoring, as well as our purpose-built channel management applications, deliver the data to the right people, at the right time, and in the format and context that they need.

Channel IQ also benefits from Tier 3's disaster recovery model, which produces nightly "snapshots" of our production servers, and then stores the snapshots at servers in a different state. The disaster recovery came as part of Tier 3's platform, and required no additional investment or equipment on our part. A lot of vendors were charging extra for this service.

As we continue to grow, we plan to conduct performance tests on high throughput disc systems using Tier 3. We expect to grow quite a bit over the next few years, which means the amount of data we acquire and store will also grow.  As both Channel IQ and Tier 3 expand, we'll be partnering up to solve some pretty complex issues in the area of scaling and storage.

More Stories By Wes Shepherd

Wes Shepherd, the CEO of Channel IQ,, is a serial entrepreneur with more than 18 years of proven experience in starting high-growth technology companies. More information on Channel IQ can be found at http://www.channeliq.com.

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