The One Question You Should Ask Your Platform Provider

If you are evaluating a background screening technology platform or any other technology platform that is critical to your business, here is a tip that may help you do the proper due diligence and assessment.  First, ask this simple question:

“How frequently do you update your software?”

It may seem like a rudimentary question, but it will start a discussion that could reveal weaknesses in the provider’s core technology infrastructure.  A technology platform is a core part of your business operations, so having to wait for critical software updates and improvements can have a significant impact on your business.  How the company answers will tell you a lot about the state of their technology and development culture.

Why You Shouldn’t Have to Wait

There is a downside in having to wait for major system upgrades if your business depends on the features, functionality, or fixes coming in the next release.  A “periodic release” strategy is more expensive for both the customer and the provider.  The inherent costs of developing, testing, deploying, learning and adopting periodic releases are far higher than a system that continually evolves.

Plus, the longer you wait for updates, the less secure and more likely you are to drift out of compliance as security vulnerabilities increase and the environment of regulation changes.

Modern platforms are designed around technologies and paradigms that allow them to continually evolve without disruption or fanfare.  Our company has been committed to digital transformation for the past several years, and it is making us more dynamic, more agile and more scalable for our clients.  It has been worth the investment and allows us to serve our customers better.

When your platform provider is committed to maintaining a state-of-the-art infrastructure and development culture, you are as much a beneficiary as they are because you both get a more secure, compliant, scalable, and efficient end product.

Digital Transformation is Critical to the Modern Technology Company

Digital Transformation refers to a fundamental change in how technology companies develop and deliver services to their customers.  Companies who are committed to digital transformation have transitioned to the latest infrastructure technologies and development methodologies that enable them to release and deploy updates and upgrades more rapidly.  Ask your provider what they have done to transform their infrastructure.  If you don’t know where to start, here are a few items to help you get pointed in the right direction with questions.

3 Key Indicators of Digital Transformation

There are three primary areas of advancement that enable digital transformation:

  1. The adoption of cloud and virtual computing
  2. Investment in the latest development and automation methodologies
  3. A change in the development culture and mindset

1- Modern technology platforms should be cloud-based

Cloud computing refers to the delivery of computing services over the Internet (a.k.a. “the cloud”).  However, it is much more than that.  The top cloud computing platforms are very sophisticated technology infrastructures that offer faster innovation, flexible computing resources, automation and management tools, new development paradigms, and economies of scale that are not financially or even technically feasible through private or data center hosted services.

Modern technology platforms should be virtualized and cloud-based to take advantage of the performance, scalability, elasticity, fault tolerance, automation, and security that cloud computing offers.

Cloud computing, when done correctly, is more secure, cost-effective and responsive. The graph below illustrates how.  When our cloud platform (TazCloud) needs 20 servers to meet the demand during peak hours, it can spin up servers automatically, in seconds, and then shut them down as the demand drops. So, instead of buying and depreciating server hardware, we always have access to the latest and greatest server technologies. Ultimately, a cloud-based infrastructure means a better performing, more efficient solution for you.  It also means that you can scale without doing anything.  It happens automatically.  That is what is meant by elastic scalability and would be very difficult to do without cloud technologies.

2- Investment in the latest development and automation methodologies 

Asking your platform provider how often they update their software is designed to reveal whether their infrastructure is built around modern and automated development technologies.  I’ve personally witnessed how much more efficient we have become due to our investment in automation

Here are just some of the fruits of that investment:

    • It is not uncommon for us to deploy 5 significant updates a week without a hiccup.
    • Last night, we upgraded our entire database fleet to achieve a 30% performance improvement and did it without any disruption of service.
    • We have seen priority bug resolution time drop by 90% over the past two years alone.

In the end, when your provider invests in modern development methodologies, including automation, everybody wins.

3- A change in the development culture and mindset

All of us are prone to get comfortable with the traditional way we do things.  Developers are no exception.  Digital transformation requires commitment and investment, as well as a change in the mindset and culture within a development organization.  Being cloud-based is not enough. There is a paradigm shift required for developing SaaS-based applications that use microservices and containers that are optimized for cloud computing.

Security is of paramount importance as well. A technology platform must be compliant and secure at all times. You can read more about our commitment to security and compliance in these two blog posts:

Are Honeypots on Your Software Provider’s Security Checklist?

Protecting Consumer Data Requires More Than Technology

The Ball is in Your Court

In a highly competitive market, your technology provider must be able to keep up with your business and industry.  Their ability to update software frequently and continuously may be the best indicator of their investment in the latest technologies and development methodologies, allowing them to maintain relevance in the industry, and service your business needs in a way that keeps you up to date and ahead of your competition.

Author: David Tanner
Chief Software Architect
TazWorks – The CRA Technology Company