“The stability and elasticity of the AWS infrastructure means property managers with 1,000 properties or more can use our solution to complete the complex process of paying suppliers, creditors, and owners in minutes rather than hours, improving their productivity and performance.”
Aaron Langley Cofounder

Founded in 2013, Sydney-based PropertyMe provides online software for property managers to simplify administration and accounting processes. The software’s features include banking and invoicing, receipt reconciliation, bulk disbursement, and live tracking of maintenance work and inspections.

Like any startup company, PropertyMe faced a number of challenges, including enabling property managers—especially those with 1,000 or more properties—to reliably complete the complex process of paying suppliers, creditors, and owners within minutes. With PropertyMe’s existing software, this process could take nine hours or longer to complete.

The company required an infrastructure that would enable it to control costs while scaling to support growth in its customer base. This quickly ruled out the possibility of a dedicated data center, which would require an investment of hundreds of thousands of dollars in upfront capital costs and would be difficult to scale quickly. PropertyMe also needed a stable platform that could support product development while enabling the business to build customer loyalty by adding new features and services. The business also wanted to maintain a lean in-house team that could focus on growing PropertyMe rather than infrastructure-management tasks. Finally, PropertyMe wanted an infrastructure that could support rapid expansion into new geographic markets, primarily the United States.

“We had to ensure the infrastructure behind our software was right to make the business work,” says Aaron Langley, co-founder of PropertyMe. We decided to look for a cloud platform from which to deliver our PropertyMe software.”

Langley began an assessment to find a cloud-service provider that was cost-effective, stable, and easy to manage. He found Amazon Web Services (AWS) was more robust, mature, and provided better value than competing cloud services. AWS also made the most business sense for the company’s growth plans. “AWS has such a broad proposition,” says Langley. “Its features and services were coming online fast, and it offered great possibilities.”

Langley managed the migration to AWS himself. “I did some online research and used my own IT skills. AWS was extremely user-friendly and I always felt as though its technical and account teams were available at short notice if we needed support.” says Langley.

PropertyMe uses multiple instances of Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) to run the code for its solution. Amazon Route 53 acts as the company’s Domain Name System (DNS), routing end users to the PropertyMe website. Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) runs a MySQL database for property data. Amazon ElastiCache supports a Redis data store for in-memory session and service queuing, and Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) serves as a repository for property-related photographs.

The figure below illustrates PropertyMe’s environment in AWS:

propertyme-arch

PropertyMe now runs its entire property-management software business on AWS. “We have doubled the size of the business year on year using the AWS platform,” says Langley. Six months after launching with AWS, clients had processed approximately 30,000 transactions through PropertyMe, for a total dollar amount of AU$22 million (US$16.8 million). Six months later, that had increased by nearly 900 percent to 277,000 transactions totaling AU$145 million (US$110.8 million). By 18 months, clients had processed an estimated one million transactions through PropertyMe, totaling approximately AU$490 million (US$374.5 million).

“Our software is now used to manage tens of thousands of properties,” says Langley. “In early 2016, we sent out more than 27,000 Short Message Service (SMS) texts on property-related matters in just one month.”

Because PropertyMe could pay for AWS cloud services on a monthly basis, the business could grow its technology-infrastructure costs in line with customer demand and revenue, rather than allocating hundreds of thousands of dollars in up-front capital to its own data center.

AWS has provided a very stable and cost-effective platform to enable PropertyMe customers to take full advantage of the property-management solution. “The fact that our customers do not have to pay maintenance and service fees on aging, expensive servers, or concern themselves with backups, is now a major selling point for us,” says Langley. “The stability and elasticity of the AWS infrastructure means property managers with 1,000 properties or more can use our solution to complete the complex process of paying suppliers, creditors, and owners in minutes rather than hours, improving their productivity and performance,” says Langley.

The cloud service also enables customers to reliably access features such as photo uploads, key documents, and real-time dashboards on rent arrears, reconciliations, and disbursements, on smartphones and tablets as well as desktops. Even simple features such as photo uploads are highly valued by customers, with AWS supporting a 5,000 percent increase in uploads in the span of 12 months.  

Langley is pleased with the robustness of AWS services and PropertyMe plans to use AWS Availability Zones to break into new markets such as North America.

“By running a lean business with team members focused on business development, we can minimize our personnel costs and the time needed to explain project requirements internally,” says Langley. “Identifying opportunities and acting on them is so important for startups, and we avoid anything holding us back because of our rapport with AWS.”

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