Clearent, a secure payment processor based in St. Louis. Mo., launched in 2005 and needed a technology platform that could help the company grow rapidly to take on larger and more established competitors. Mark Peck, senior vice president of technical operations, tells IncTechnology.com that cloud computing helped give the start-up a rock solid IT foundation.
Elizabeth Wasserman: What were you looking for in a new IT platform?
Mark Peck: As we were getting the company started in 2005, we were looking for a technology solution that would help us grow quickly and build a solution and begin to deliver value in a small space of time. We felt we needed to have a very rock solid base layer for scalability and performance right out of the gate to handle the underlying management challenges.
Wasserman: You weren’t replacing older technology…
Peck: We built a cloud computing platform from day one. We felt that was a key strategic advantage for us to be able to take advantage of the latest in cloud computing to be able to be competitive with much larger companies. We were able to achieve a lot of those economies of scale very rapidly.
Wasserman: What was it about the nature of your business that lent itself to cloud computing?
Peck: There are two main pieces of the transaction processing for merchants. There is the minute-by-minute authorization of transactions all throughout the business. And then there is process of taking all those transactions and making sure they get processed properly, fees are deducted, and make sure the accounting is proper. In addition, there is a reporting and business analytics component. Our merchants range from small Mom-and-Pop shops all the way to the largest firms you would recognize. They have a mix of locations where credit cards are swiped at point of sale, accepted over the Internet, or taken for mail orders or phone orders. They must have absolute confidence that every transaction — whether they only process a few per day or millions per day — is performed reliability and is funded correctly and on time and done in a secure manner so that there is no loss of card holder data or merchant data.
Wasserman: What platform did you decide to go with?
Peck: We decided that cloud computing would help us with secure scalability, and reliability, and hook into third-party software packages that would enable us to write our own software. That became the foundation on which we built the business. We chose the Appistry CloudIQ Engine because we felt it could solve these problems in a high scale transactional environment. We saw a logical fit for what we wanted to do and we spent time with the engineering staff and conducted a high performance proof of concept that helped convince us that this software would meet our needs.
Wasserman: What have the results been?
Peck: Outstanding. You always know how good your infrastructure is by how little time you spend thinking about it. We’ve been really focused on business and solving business problems at the risk of taking it for grant. One of the things about the industry is when we came into this space there were a small number of very large competitors, mostly running applications written several decades ago for merchant electronic payment processing. They certainly had the scale and ability to run millions of transactions but we were able to offer additional services, such as an intuitive and graphical interface, user screens for merchants, intuitive reporting to help people understand their business. We are constantly being told whether by our sales team, our partners, or our customers, that we are offering things that no one else is offering.