HandyTrac’s Key Control System needed a more efficient rebuild on a next-level framework that would facilitate timely updates and enhancements, instead of requiring custom integrations for new features like biometric authentication. 7Factor teamed up with HandyTrac to rebuild the system from scratch using an API-based system built on AWS to ensure maximum security, stability, and extensibility. Modern infrastructure design both improved workflow and enabled continuous system improvements.
HandyTrac Moves to AWS to Future-Proof Key System With a Modern Framework
The HandyTrac Key Control System was originally built on a network of first-generation keypads that communicated with an in-house server via dialup communications. All company IP rested with one electrical engineer who had personally maintained the codebase for two decades.
Serial extensions and enhancements had kept the system updated and working well for many years as the company adopted new hardware and networking technology. Custom integrations had included touchscreen interfaces, Ethernet and WiFI connectivity, biometric authentication, a web portal with real-time status reports and access control, and automated reporting of key-related events.
By collaborating with AWS Partner 7Factor, HandyTrac business leaders decided they could develop a more efficient Key Control System by using next-level frameworks and migrating to Amazon Web Services (AWS). This would decrease their dependence on any one employee while positioning the system for future innovation.
I was quite impressed how quickly the 7Factor developers were able to get their heads around the problem. It’s not something anyone is likely to have a lot of experience with."
7Factor Software Recommends Solution Based on API Requests for Increased Stability and Reduced Maintenance
A mutual connection recommended 7Factor Software to HandyTrac CEO John D. Lie-Nielsen, and the 7Factor team set to work reviewing the system, which had been built and long maintained by the system’s original architect. Because long loyalty and low turnover had left much of the company’s institutional knowledge undocumented, the 7Factor team first conducted a discovery to gain an in-depth understanding of the system, identify pain points, and structure a solution that would best meet HandyTrac’s needs moving forward.
Once 7Factor completed their discovery, they recommended basing the solution design on API requests to enhance system stability and predictability while reducing the IT resources required to keep everything running.
New System Built on AWS Accelerates Deployment and Streamlines Communication
7Factor rebuilt HandyTrac’s app and web portal from scratch, migrating to an API-based system built on AWS. The front end is built on Vue.js and the back end is written in Java with an Amazon Aurora MySQL database managed by Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS). Using Concourse for continuous integration and delivery and Terraform to provision AWS Infrastructure as code, the rebuild accelerated both the deployment of updates and resource provisioning, allowing for multiple staging deployments per day.
7Factor also updated existing communication functions into an online portal that displays all key control-related transactions using best practices of modern UI design. Property managers and HandyTrac administrators can view the status of keys with up-to-the-minute data and summaries of all activity at the corporate, regional, or property level. The new system also implements custom, automated email alerts that can be sent to property managers and residents.
HandyTrac Speeds Data Processing Tenfold While Reducing Onboarding Time By Over 50%
Rebuilding the software on AWS with modern tools, design, and best practices has made HandyTrac services more efficient, secure, stable, and extensible. A comprehensive test suite runs automatically to verify the correctness of every new build, and services can be scaled up and down with little effort. This all currently allows the new system to support 15.1k active properties, while enabling continuous system improvements with a reduced risk of breaking the system when adding new features. Most importantly, the company no longer depends on tacit knowledge to support and evolve its core technology offering.
By transitioning to a PaaS model, HandyTrac engineers can now take advantage of the autonomous provisioning, auto-scaling, and standardized compliance of Amazon Elastic Container Service (Amazon ECS). Bolstered by the high throughput of Amazon RDS, HandyTrac can also count on consistent app performance with lightning-fast responsiveness, including average API response times of around 100ms. Finally, the effort required to onboard new HandyTrac customers dropped by more than half, and administrators can now complete the task with two pages of forms rather than five.
Atlanta-based HandyTrac helps multifamily, military, and student housing managers control and monitor entry into 5 million units at 10,000 properties and 800 organizations nationwide. With an advanced security infrastructure of key boxes and kiosks, the HandyTrac Key Control system automates the otherwise cumbersome process of checking out keys and granting unit access to service, maintenance, and repair personnel. The company invested early in custom software and designed the first integrated biometric identity verification for key control systems, offering WiFi capability, bilingual options, and online key activity reporting. HandyTrac holds three U.S. patents and has another pending.
AWS Services Used
About the AWS Partner 7Factor
7Factor Software designs, develops, deploys, and maintains well engineered, cloud-native software solutions that tackle the most unique problems, and seize new opportunities for tech-forward enterprises and ambitious start-ups in mission critical industries including healthcare, finance, and aviation. Founded in 2016 by Jeremy Duvall, the 7Factor team is now comprised of more than 50 smart, experienced software engineers and polyglot programmers who obsess about quality and are dedicated to clients’ growth and success.
Published June 2023