IT is no longer a barrier to innovation. We are a trendsetter in online invoicing in Italy, and now that our infrastructure is on AWS, we have the confidence to diversify and expand.  
Daniele Ratti Chief Executive Officer and Founder

Fatture in Cloud provides an online invoicing service to self-employed individuals and small-to-medium businesses. The startup has disrupted the invoicing market in Italy by offering customers a new way to handle their billing and invoicing needs. Users enjoy a service that’s reliable and delivers features that traditional invoicing companies don’t offer, such as the ability to exchange information in real time. All documents and data can be accessed by customers from anywhere 24/7. Fatture in Cloud, which was acquired by TeamSystem Group in 2015, currently has 20,000 active users and annual revenue of €2 million (US$2.3 million).

When it started out, Fatture in Cloud chose a local IT provider for its computing, storage, and database needs. In this setup, the Fatture in Cloud team had to handle updates and backups, which was taking up a lot of the team’s time at the expense of developing new functionalities on the platform. In an effort to decouple code from storage and better organize its architecture for faster responses - while also reducing IT management time - the company moved to the cloud. But this didn’t provide the answer to all of Fatture in Cloud’s needs either.

“Availability was poor, which was jeopardizing service levels to customers,” says Daniele Ratti, founder and chief executive officer of Fatture in Cloud. “Everything we did involved downtime, and because we had to focus on keeping the system running, we didn’t have time to spend on developing our core business.”

Although it was convinced a cloud-based infrastructure was the best way to run its online invoicing service, the firm started looking for a cloud provider that was able to satisfy all the company’s needs. Fatture in Cloud needed to reduce IT management to give the team time for research and development (R&D), as well as increase its ability to scale to support a growing user base. Crucially, it required highly reliable service, giving customers the confidence that their financial data would be secure and accessible around the clock.

Fatture in Cloud moved from its existing cloud provider to Amazon Web Services (AWS) in 2015. It chose AWS due to the managed, automated nature of its services. And, according to Ratti, this choice has supported the company’s goals. “The way we’ve set up our architecture on AWS, it just takes care of itself. No bottlenecks, no hours and hours of maintenance, no worries about scaling up compute resources. It’s exactly what we wanted from a cloud provider.”

Its cloud-based infrastructure consists of Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances with Auto Scaling and the Application Load Balancer feature in Elastic Load Balancing, which have increased the responsiveness of compute resources. This configuration helps the firm seamlessly support variations in traffic throughout the day, as well as expansion in overall users as the business grows.

Amazon CloudFront sits in front of Elastic Load Balancing to protect the infrastructure against distributed denial-of-service attacks, and it gives Fatture in Cloud peace of mind that customers’ access to their data won’t be disrupted. The company uses Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) as a reliable storage repository, and it monitors system status and health through Amazon CloudWatch. The team no longer needs to manually monitor resources 24/7; instead, it receives automatic email alerts when an event occurs that requires action.

Fatture in Cloud was an early adopter of Amazon Aurora, which it has used since the service was in beta. “When we deployed Amazon Aurora, we noticed a huge performance improvement,” says Ratti. “Not only has it completely removed the database bottleneck we had with our previous provider, but storage is allocated automatically, which saves us even more time.”  

Since 2013, Fatture in Cloud users have created 7 million documents, of which 4.8 million have been generated between January and September 2017. “We’re doubling our user base and revenue every year. We couldn’t have handled this rate of growth before, but using AWS, we can do so easily and without a heavy management burden,” says Ratti. “It means we’re ready to capture our share of the rapidly growing number of newly registered businesses in Italy - a segment that has expanded by five million in the last 10 years. Most of these companies are smaller organizations and individuals that can benefit greatly from the invoicing service we offer. It’s nice to know we have the capacity to welcome them aboard.”

Although user traffic for the company varies, its pattern is largely predictable: Low during evenings, weekends, and holidays; high during the day, on the first day of each month, and approaching certain deadlines such as the end of the tax year. For Fatture in Cloud, automating compute resources to handle the range of traffic has made a significant difference to its operations and its bottom line. “Auto Scaling is awesome,” says Ratti. “Using it we’ve reduced our costs by 50 percent, and performance is 100 percent better than before.”

Both with its old infrastructure and its previous cloud solution, Fatture in Cloud experienced frequent service disruptions. Now that is no longer the case. “Using AWS, we have zero downtime,” says Ratti. “The reliability and security of services such as Amazon S3 and Amazon Aurora help us prevent data loss and give us peace of mind.” This is crucial for the company because its customers rely on consistent service availability. “If clients can’t generate the document they need, or access data in time for a tax return deadline, for instance, that is a major issue for them - and reflects really badly on us.”

Using AWS also helps Fatture in Cloud maximize the time its team can spend on R&D. As a result, it’s able to launch new features, functionality, and services to customers. One such example is Dipendenti in Cloud, a payroll service that is due for release in 2018. Ratti says, “IT is no longer a barrier to innovation. We are a trendsetter in online invoicing in Italy, and now that our infrastructure is on AWS, we have the confidence to diversify and expand.”