2020 has been a difficult year for many. But we’ve been lucky that as a remote company Covid19 did not impact us seriously. In fact, like many people working in the IT industry, this has arguably been our busiest year yet. We wanted to mark the end of the year, drawing a nice big line in the sand, by writing up a review of the year’s progress and highlights.
Cloud Drive Mapper 2.7
Cloud Drive Mapper 2.7 was an epic release we made in September and the most significant improvement we’ve ever made to CDM. It contained a major upgrade to Microsoft’s latest authentication framework: MSAL. This brings our CDM customers and partners number of big benefits. It’s quicker, more resource efficient, more stable, has greater resilience for laptops and remote workers, and has true native support for Azure MFA and conditional access. It’s also in-line with Microsoft’s latest recommended practices for integrating with Microsoft 365 and Azure AD. This means that it’s fully supported and is much less prone than previous versions of CDM to encounter problematic edge cases.
This year we’ve more than doubled the size of our development team, brought onboard a new team in Australia, created a new US-subsidiary, and stepped up our operations in South America. We expanded multi-language options of our software to 8 languages. We have nearly doubled the size of our customer base this year, and developed over 100 new partnerships with some fantastic IT companies located all over the world.
ISO27001 is the global standard and benchmark for strong information security management. Following external audits by the Center for Assessment, we successfully recertified as ISO27001 compliant. We were particularly pleased to pass the audits with no minors. We recently wrote a blog post about how MS Teams has been instrumental in the way we manage security.
Microsoft Gold Partner 2020
We continued our run as a Microsoft Gold Partner, which we’ve held since 2013.
At the beginning of the first wave of lockdowns, we set ourselves a company challenge. We wanted to create a product that would make on-prem to Office 365 migrations as quick and easy as possible. The catch? We onlygave ourselves one week to create it. This wasn’t quite the slapdash project it may sound like – it was actually a test for our (hitherto unreleased) IT process automation framework: Conductor. And we just about managed to pull it off. Read more about the challenge. Since then, Cloud Winch and our Conductor automation framework have continued to evolve a lot. Cloud Winch has hauled over 20,000 users into the cloud this year, with hundreds more migrated each day.
A bit of IAM Cloud history
As you may know if you’ve been following us for a while, the IAM Cloud prototype was first conceived in 2011 on a makeshift server in a garage in Sheffield (UK). We then launched it properly in Microsoft Azure in 2012 and brought our first customers onboard.
IAM Cloud has never had any external investors. It has always been 100% employee-owned. This is very much our preference, because of the creative freedom we have to create the technology we’re passionate about. But the downside of “bootstrapping the business”, as it’s sometimes called, is that right from the beginning we were caught in a loop of needing regular sales to pay our team, and needing our team to write more software to keep up with the promises made to our prospects and new customers.
Compounding this problem was the fact that we launched our software platform in Azure before Azure was even “generally available”. This meant that a lot of the architectural and infrastructural choices we made for our software was based on a pretty limited menu of options in Azure. Azure has come a very long way since 2012, but our software became firmly cemented in designs that, in hindsight, weren’t particularly helpful.
The great rebuild
In 2016, we did a major refactor of the platform to help whip it into better shape, but that process left us with the lasting feeling that if we wanted to get close to achieving the bigger visions we have for IAM Cloud, we would need to take everything we’d learned to date (the good stuff and bad), and pretty much just start again from scratch. And since 2018 that’s what we’ve been doing.
Over the past 18 months we have reached a major technical and commercial milestone as a business: zero technical debt. All our customer and partner promises have been met. The cycle we were caught in for years has been broken, and we’re able to start making big strides forwards, and create the technology we’ve always wanted to build.
Some of our plans are pretty ambitious, so not all of our plans will come to light this year. But here is a preview into what will…
Our new portal
This isn’t just an aesthetic update to the UI of our existing portal, this is a dramatic upgrade on every level. Like the difference between a 10-year old go-kart and a brand new Tesla. Our existing portal has been very limiting for our customers and partners – and that means it is very limiting for us too.
Our new portal has been built from the ground-up. It will have a transformational impact on the way we can work with our partners. It will have a massive impact on the power and autonomy our direct customers will be able to yield with our technology. And it is being built not just to meet our current needs and goals – but to meet our future aspirations too. The architecture, foundations and scaffolding are already in place – now we just need to fill in the spaces. To help us accelerate this, we’re recruiting UI developers and designers, and by the end of Q1 2021 we will have trebled the size of our UI team.
With the portal, come the products
For many years much of our software has existed behind a kind of veil. IDx, Lift&Shift and Cloud Winch have been exclusively operated by our own internal teams. Even CDM, SSO and Surp4ss! are only partly managed through our existing portal. This has hugely stifled not only who can use our software, but also how, where and when our software can be used too.
The launch of our new portal will bring all our products to light. For the first time ever, I think people will start to see and understand what IAM Cloud is all about.
Cloud Drive Mapper v3
When, two years ago, we embarked on the project to rebuild CDM in a modern architecture that would provide unparalleled power in cloud storage integration – we had hoped to have launched it by now. It’s a complex project, that’s required us to recruit a whole new world-class team of developers. The good news is that progress has been both very positive so far, and accelerating as each month passes. We have learned so much. CDM v3 is the most sophisticated product we have ever created. You could say given the amount of performance tuning, low-level machine interaction, and algorithmic optimization that has gone into it – it is more a piece of engineering than it is software development. Ultimately the goal with V3 was to create a piece of software that would meet the needs of any organization on the planet wanting to better adopt and manage cloud storage. This meant reaching the standards set by the world’s largest corporations, banks and national governments. We are still very much on track to fulfil this objective, and we’re really excited to start showing you what we’ve created once V3 reaches beta.
We’ve more than doubled the size of our team in the past 12 months, and we’ll continue on that same path for the next 12 months. We aim to have doubled the size of our development team again by the end of 2021. That said, we only hire the absolute best people we can find – highly-skilled, tech-loving senior developers are the foundation of our business and our ability to deliver great software and services to our customers.