Case Study: Airdocs (airdocs.io)

For many companies utilising cloud technology, growth presents its own set of challenges. If not optimized or designed for scale, performance issues often arise as user numbers and transactions increase. Yet, with priorities focused on developers delivering client functionality, how can cloud-based companies solve these problems and set their systems up for expansion?

The Problem

Founded in 2015, Airdocs is a correspondence management platform that automates and manages the delivery of marketing, operational, and contractual documents across channels with ‘smart’ authoring tools using a customer’s preferred delivery method.

As a cloud-based company, Airdocs offers large enterprise functionalities, like flexibility and speed-to-market, to SME’s at lower costs.

When Airdocs reached out to Edge Digital at the end of 2020, they had more than doubled volumes year on year and were processing millions of correspondences.

“That’s when you start seeing that subtle difference between, is it functioning well? Is it performing well?” Says Frik Botha, Director of Airdocs.

Airdocs were seeing issues with latency within database queries, as well as possible wider spread issues. They had immediate problems to solve, but they also needed to ensure that their system was ready for scalability into the future.

“When we’re building our databases and our tables, we know how to do it. Companies do it the standard way. But you need the guys at the guru level to look at that and go, well, in that edge case, there are better ways of doing it,” says Airdocs CTO James McLeman.

Best practices are tricky in the fast-moving SaaS space. What was true of Azure SQL four years ago may not have been true three years ago, or even six months ago. Although there is a large body of knowledge in an area like database, it doesn’t necessarily apply to every situation’s context and environment.

When the standard cookbook approach was not working, Airdocs turned to a third party that lived and breathed the cloud space.

The Solution

Airdocs brought on board Edge Digital in late 2020 to help solve their immediate problems and identify wider spread issues that may arise as they continued to grow.

“You get to that point in the business where you go, ‘Can we afford to take [the developers] out of delivering to our customers while they optimise our databases, or was it smarter to get an outside company in to focus on that? Who know what they’re doing and can do it in less time?’” Botha explains.

Airdocs was also looking for a trusted advisor to continually turn to, ensuring they were doing things the best way possible.

“Your alternative would be to get specialisation within your organization, but you’re never going to get that reach of having a whole team of people that can come and look at you and give an external opinion of what you’re doing,” says McLeman.

With years of experience remedying problems in emergent cloud designs due to rapid organisational growth, Edge Digital was up for the challenge.

The Process

Edge Digital offered a two-pronged approach to Airdocs’ problems. They began by investigating and remedying the immediate performance issues hampering day-to-day operations.

Then, Edge Digital performed a standard ‘Health Check’ by working closely with Airdocs’ CTO to identify common patterns and practices that could cause future issues.

To make use of the work Airdocs already did, Airdocs and Edge Digital worked collaboratively. Microsoft Teams was excellent in maintaining a constant flow of communication and building off of the work Airdocs already did.

With Airdocs in Australia, the time difference benefitted the project because Edge Digital could run their investigations outside of business hours.

The entire process was possible using a range of technology, many of which Airdocs had implemented and wanted to optimise. The technology included:

  • Azure SQL
  • Azure Applications Insights
  • Azure functions, Azure Logic apps

The Result

By the end of the project, Airdocs’ core problems were fixed, and the company walked away with a more performant and stable platform. Previously, queries had run for as long as 30 seconds and consumed significant resources. Today, everything is running well within customer expectations while Airdocs have significantly reduced their Azure SQL costs.

Airdocs also gained a clearer understanding of the current health of their database and platform. Edge Digital worked closely with the CTO to apply the new knowledge to Airdocs’ future roadmap, which would ultimately help guide future technical investment.

Armed with new knowledge and skills, as well as insight into ways they could improve going forward, Airdocs now has the tools to maintain stability, even as their customer count continues to grow.