Royal LePage: Case Study
WatServ Uses the Power of the Cloud to Modernize Royal LePage’s Real Estate Portal
Royal LePage is a real estate company that has been helping Canadians buy and sell their homes since 1913.
Royal LePage offers an online portal for its 18,000 REALTORS® and 280 brokerages in 600 locations nationwide. The portal is designed to act as a one-stop hub for users to find tools and information provided by the franchisor. User benefits of the portal include:
- Access to content-rich dashboards, news and announcements, and updates on industry trends;
- Access to managing agent teams and rosters;
- Integration with the franchise billing application; and
- Single sign-on to various third party service providers.
Going into this project, we knew there’d be lots of learning and change involved since we’d never used Azure before. WatServ worked with us to gather details and understand our needs, and then designed an ideal cloud infrastructure that’s tailor-made and customized for our business goals. Along the way, they provided superior support and even identified some additional backend jobs that were good candidates for serverless. With WatServ, the solutions were easy to implement, cost-effective and scalable.
When Royal LePage engaged WatServ for this project, the company was operating the portal on a 3-tier web architecture hosted at their data centre facility. The portal had been developed as a customized application based on a java-based CMS.
Royal LePage was facing challenges with respect to the portal:
1) Operational support challenges stemming from the fact the application was:
- Built on a java-based CMS and required intensive computing and manual resources to maintain up time and performance;
- Developed using proprietary technology of the CMS, making it difficult for the team to manage; and
- Being hosted without enough support in the data centre.
2) Scalability challenges including an inability to effectively scale to support the needs of their growing user base across Royal LePage real estate brokerages in North America.
Royal LePage wanted to re-engineer the portal to overcome these operational challenges so they could offer more features to their end-users and keep up with their need to scale. They also wanted to move the application away from their on-premise data centre so their team could focus on the application’s business functionalities instead of managing the hosting environment.
WatServ worked with Royal LePage’s technology team to re-engineer the application on Azure with the intent of reducing the hosting footprint, improving agility and removing reliance on their data centre.
During the design and architecture stage, WatServ and Royal LePage collaborated to transform the application – taking maximum advantage of the cloud platform. WatServ replaced virtual machines with Azure’s web, SQL platform and serverless functions services, and the team leveraged Azure’s Web Application Firewall (WAF) and other security services to protect the application from threats. They also enabled autoscaling for peak load.
Working together, the application architecture was also updated to eliminate the challenges that had resulted from the customized CMS and to provide overall improved UX, performance and security. To achieve this, the team converted the platform to an ASP.NET web framework and developed a sustainable design and architecture.
The result was an updated application, and a fully outsourced and managed hosting solution.
Through this solution, WatServ was able to help Royal LePage:
- Improve reliability and scalability while controlling costs due to a cloud-optimized migration strategy;
- Cut maintenance efforts by leveraging the Microsoft Azure and WatServ’s fully managed solution;
- Achieve increased resiliency and reduced internal support needs; and
- Modernize services in the public cloud, removing the need to make further investments in their data centre.
Perhaps most importantly, the new application architecture and Azure DevOps CI/CD now enables continuous improvements (such as adding features and fixing issues) in shorter iterations, resulting in measurable business outcomes.
Today, WatServ continues to act as Royal LePage’s trusted advisor and has several more projects underway.