Kwiper, an innovative SaaS wealth management advisory solution for professionals, has come to market after a year of development. Its use of AWS Cloud and infrastructure as code, orchestrated by AWS Advanced Partner Ippon Technologies, gave the project the agility and security to move forward quickly and fulfill the founders’ vision.
Kwiper on the Market after One Year of Development
Kwiper is a software as a service (SaaS) solution designed for consulting professionals such as chartered accountants, notaries, lawyers, and wealth management consultants. Kwiper formalizes and sells wealth advisory services. It uses artificial intelligence (AI) to guide users through tutorials, thematic sheets, and automatic diagnosis to generate a wealth strategy. Originally, Kwiper started as an intrapreneurship project within French investment bank Société Générale, before setting off on its own. “We began by working with another service provider recommended by our incubator,” says Nathalie Duchêne, CEO and co-founder of Kwiper. “But after a while, we realized that the provider lacked the necessary agility for our objectives. We looked for a new partner, and found the right one with Advanced AWS Partner, Ippon Technologies.”
Product to Market in One Year
Because of the subject matter—asset management—Kwiper requires complex data manipulation and rapid evolution of functionalities. And because the data it handles is sensitive financial information, security is essential to Kwiper's success in a competitive market, as are agility and speed. Ippon met these demands and produced an initial product in six months. The application then went into production after only one year of development. The Kwiper team had already chosen Amazon Web Services (AWS) to build the infrastructure when Ippon began work on the project in October 2019. A double audit—conducted in November 2019—of the infrastructure and the code showed that the foundations were sound, so development could begin the following month.
“New features or improvements are delivered to our users every fortnight in a transparent way," says Duchêne. “This is one of the advantages of the SaaS model, and it sets us apart from our potential competitors, who have irregular or less frequent updates.”
- Nathalie Duchêne, CEO and Co-Founder, Kwiper
Building the Infrastructure
To meet Kwiper's demands, and to gain the agility it needed, Ippon built the platform using the cloud and infrastructure as code. The web application includes two front ends (administrator and customer) and several back-end services. The entire application is hosted using AWS, as is the deployment and continuous integration. The front-end applications are hosted on an Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) bucket and delivered through Amazon CloudFront, the AWS content delivery network (CDN). The back-end services form an Amazon Elastic Container Service (Amazon ECS) cluster. AWS Fargate provisions the containers, and the backend of the application is deployed as a cluster of Docker containers. The database is managed with Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) and Amazon S3 stores the files generated by the platform. Finally, the Elastic Load Balancing Service exposes the services to the outside world and allows incoming traffic to be distributed to several targets. All this infrastructure is coded and deployed using Terraform. To accelerate the development of new functionalities and time to market, Ippon and the Kwiper team chose to use existing solutions when possible. For example, the payment solution is provided by Stripe, and one of the simulators for income tax used in the diagnostic function is an open source solution supported by the French government.
The Security Issue
As the data Kwiper handles is personal, application security was a key issue—especially because Kwiper's first partner and supporter is French investment bank Société Générale. In February 2020, Société Générale set out a series of requirements that had to be met by Kwiper in order for the project to continue. “In four weeks, everything was in place and the issues resolved, thanks to an innovative solution based on the use of a secret management solution,” explains Raphaël Despinasse, Director of the Ippon Scale Studio at Ippon Technologies. Based on AWS, this solution adds to the encryption capabilities of Amazon RDS, protecting customer data in the Kwiper database, as well as in documents generated by Kwiper. Amazon Cognito handles user authentication and manages roles and access rights through groups and custom attributes. “All of the security analyses that have been carried out since then have gone smoothly,” says Duchêne.
Kwiper is continually improving its solution and adding to its functionality to meet evolving customer needs and respond to changes in the asset management market. The pace of development is fast. The team works in two-week sprints and the time between the specification of a new feature and its release averages one and a half months. The Kwiper team sticks to three-month roadmaps to focus the development team and ensure it has sufficient resources. “New features or improvements are delivered to our users every fortnight in a transparent way," says Duchêne. “This is one of the advantages of the SaaS model, and it sets us apart from our potential competitors, who have irregular or less frequent updates.”
In order to test and validate new features, Ippon created several environments based on AWS. Thanks to the infrastructure as code approach, which allows new environments to be created on demand, Ippon can continually work with the Kwiper team to improve the code and make the product more scalable. AWS CodePipeline also improves testing and continuous deployment through delivering regular updates to users.
“This type of platform is the future of the business…We have the advantage of being the first, and of being fast and agile. This is an advantage that Kwiper intends to maintain, thanks to the support of Ippon and AWS.”
- Nathalie Duchêne, CEO and Co-Founder, Kwiper
To achieve all this, building the team and finding the right organization was a crucial step. “We recruited a Proxy Product Owner from the company Novencia, who writes the specs and then transfers them to the developers. Then we use two-week sprints, with clear, precise and prepared deliveries," says Duchêne. The Ippon team, which is entirely dedicated to Kwiper, was built in one month. The AWS architect, who was full time at the beginning of the project, now continues to contribute as needed on specific areas.
Cost Optimization Through Automation
“AWS automates our infrastructure," says Despinasse. Because AWS provides services as well as automates manual infrastructure maintenance tasks, it reduces the size of the IT team and lowers operating costs. The use of cloud and infrastructure as code also empowers developers to focus on high-value tasks. The flexibility of AWS leads to savings, too. For example, Ippon can automatically shut down the development environment when it’s not being used. “The exchanges with Ippon are daily and essential. They ask the right questions,” says Duchêne. “This is one of the reasons for our success. In fact, we act as one team. The learning has gone both ways. Ippon learned a lot about asset management in the first few months—they were given tax lessons during their lunch break. And today, Kwiper's business teams understand the mechanics and processes of the technical project.”
Kwiper plans to focus on customer acquisition until the end of the year, before embarking on two fairly tight roadmaps. “This type of platform is the future of the business, and is much sought after by professionals who are asked by their clients to manage their assets," says Duchêne. “We have the advantage of being the first, and of being fast and agile. This is an advantage that Kwiper intends to maintain, thanks to the support of Ippon and AWS.”
About Ippon Technologies
Ippon is a consultancy that accelerates its customers' innovation projects from the blank page to the cloud. Ippon’s teams around the world help organizations to transform innovative ideas into high-quality software solutions with a particular focus on time to market.
Published September 2021