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Fast Growth Calls for a New Partner

Aqua Finance provides consumer financing programs that help dealerships attract new customers and increase profits. It serves more than 5,000 dealers and contractors across the nation in a variety of industries, including water treatment, home improvement, HVAC, marine, RV, powersports and more.

Operating in the highly regulated field of indirect consumer financing programs, and experiencing exponential business and employee growth, Aqua Finance was fast outpacing its inflexible hosting environment with a third-party provider.

“We had been using a regional service provider since 2014, but they were swallowed up by a global hosting provider, and we became small relative to other customers,” said Jon Gelhaus, senior vice president of IT and CSO at Aqua Finance. “And because we were growing so quickly, we also found ourselves running out of space and capacity every two years. We renegotiated our contract three times in five years. It just wasn’t sustainable.”

The company also faced stringent compliance demands. “In addition to meeting the requirements of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, we have to comply with the Dept. of Revenue in all 50 states, each one with different requirements and degrees of security review,” stated Gelhaus.

“Thanks to Navisite, we now have a cloud roadmap in place that sets us up for cost-effective growth and business agility, while protecting the integrity and performance of our systems and applications at every turn along the way.”

Jon Gelhaus | Senior Vice President of IT and CSO

The Need for More Cloud Expertise

Aqua Finance needed the help of experts to develop a modern, flexible blueprint for transitioning its business and critical applications to the cloud so it could cost-effectively scale resources up or down on demand and relieve the pressure on its IT staff.

While moving to the cloud was a logical choice for Aqua Finance, the company’s engineers didn’t have the necessary experience to ensure security and high availability in the cloud, without putting the business at risk. This was a main factor. Gelhaus added, “With a $2B business at stake, it was crucial that we bring in the expertise to ensure that every step on our journey to the cloud is the right one. Especially since this shift included our web-based dealer portal, which we rely on to support 80% of our business.”

A Trusted Roadmap for Cloud Transformation

Working in lockstep with the Aqua Finance team, Navisite developed a multi-phased, three-year plan to achieve a cloud-native architecture based on Microsoft® Azure®.

“We are a Microsoft-centric organization, which made the move to Azure a natural fit for our cloud strategy,” said Gelhaus. “As we evaluated partners to support our migration, Navisite also emerged as the natural and best choice. We had already successfully worked with them on our Office 365® deployment, which was a positive experience that helped establish trust. Most importantly, their team of skilled Azure engineers provide the deep cloud and security expertise we need to move to the cloud while mitigating risk.”

Initially, Navisite conducted a cloud readiness assessment to gain a thorough understanding of Aqua Finance’s environment and goals, followed by the development of a migration plan for the company’s infrastructure as a service (IaaS) environment and a roadmap for application modernization. The next phase, currently in progress, involves incrementally shifting certain tech components from IaaS, such as identity access management and other business applications, to a platform as a service (PaaS) model. Navisite is also taking Aqua Finance’s financial business data from disparate systems, totaling over 17 terabytes, and creating a new data warehouse (DW) and business intelligence (BI) solution natively on the Azure platform to modernize the company’s analytics and reporting capabilities.

Navisite has provided highly skilled resources to Aqua Finance, including Azure architects, database administrators (DBAs) and DW/BI specialists, to ensure a seamless migration to the cloud. Following the implementation, Navisite will provide ongoing support and management of the Azure platform, as well as management of the company’s real-time disaster recovery environment.

Ultimately, by moving to a cloud-native environment, Gelhaus will be able to support the company’s plans to double in size again over the next five years with a flexible and scalable PaaS to securely manage growth, without having to continually add staff or rehost the business. And with the ongoing support of Navisite, his team will be able to focus on other high-value projects, instead of handling time-consuming operational tasks, such as patching software and virtual machines.

“Thanks to Navisite, we now have a cloud roadmap in place that sets us up for cost-effective growth and business agility, while protecting the integrity and performance of our systems and applications at every turn along the way,” said Gelhaus.

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