Five reasons why leading payments solution provider, Thumbzup, chooses Azure

Microsoft ISV partner, Thumbzup, unpacks the benefits of Azure when building and deploying software solutions.

Johannesburg, 02 Sep 2020
Read time 5min 10sec

Thumbzup is an established payments company with a track record of providing payment on the move. Its customers range from large tier one retailers and hospitality businesses through to SMEs. The creators of the Payment Blade and Payment Pebble (sold as PayBlade and FastPay in Australia), as an ISV, Thumbzup’s entire business has migrated to Azure, Microsoft’s public cloud.

Fact sheet
Solution: Microsoft Azure
Industry: Payment solutions
Provider: First Distribution
User: Thumbzup

Traditional set payment infrastructures would have required additional capacity and resources to enable this extra requirement, but what happens when Black Friday is over? Do businesses sit with that capacity?

The cloud has changed the game. Vendors such as Thumbzup can scale up their solution to meet any additional volumes within seconds – and then scale down when the immediate need is over.

This is true for any cloud-based application. Thumbzup delivers hardware to its customers in the form of point-of-sale devices, but all payment processing takes place in Azure, Microsoft’s public cloud.

For independent software vendors, additional users and licences can be added within seconds, allowing the business to scale on a pay-per-user model, instead of investing in additional infrastructure in order to grow.

“In 2019, over a five-month period, one of our merchants scaled from 20 transactions per month to 150 000 transactions per month. If all of your clients do that at the same time, the perceived availability of your hardware can be completely wrong,” says Glen Ross, Head of Strategic Engagement at Thumbzup.

“If usage suddenly spikes, you still need to be able to deliver, without delays due to acquiring additional infrastructure. This is as true for us as it is for any software-based product, such as accounting-based software or CRM solutions.”

Thumbzup’s entire business has migrated to Azure with First Distribution, Africa’s largest ICT distributor.

Here are five reasons why Azure, coupled with a partnership with First Distribution, is accelerating Thumbzup’s growth.

1. Geo independence

With its software housed in Azure, Thumbzup can spin up its environment in another territory, quickly replicating the current Azure layout in any Microsoft platform. Consider what this means for scaling to another territory: a software vendor could launch and deliver its services without investing in local infrastructure and focusing on customer acquisition instead – delivering exactly the same solution on the other side of the world.

2. Infrastructure as a service

Software solutions might be delivered through the cloud, but they require dedicated hardware and infrastructure to support the service, and this has typically been funded by the vendor – until now.

“The IT world is not always fluid when it comes to hardware doing what it’s supposed to do,” explains Craven Buitendach, Thumbzup’s CTO. “Hardware and infrastructure require an entire team supporting it, making sure hard drives are swopped out, new kit and controller cards are installed, and so on. This is an auxiliary service that you don’t need to worry about anymore when you’ve moved to the cloud.

“Physical hardware degrades. It limits how quickly you can scale. In Azure, Microsoft takes care of all of that for us. If a disk, memory, or CPU fails, we wouldn’t even notice. It would just be taken care of for us. There is nothing required on our side. We no longer need to worry about what our available capacity is for growth.”

3. Platform as a service

“We can take our data sets and apply AI and machine learning with out-the-box services such as Microsoft Cognitive Service and refine and even launch new products without investing in expensive development cycles ourselves. We can then leverage our in-house capabilities for actual product design, instead of building out supportive technologies ourselves.”

4. Security is built in

As a payment processing platform, Thumbzup chose Azure because of local data centres and the need for data sovereignty, but the security benefits of Azure have also supported the business. “Microsoft’s Security Centre ensures we are fully complaint with all local and international regulations,” says Ross. “There’s a simple checklist that we follow on our side, which makes upholding our environment incredibly simple, and we aren’t sweating our own assets and support team to ensure that our data is protected.”

5. Pay-as-you-go

Anything built in Azure is easy to replicate. “Using terraform scripts and by automating the entire environment, you can decommission or spin up your solution within seconds,” says Buitendach. “This means that you can launch in different territories with ease, but it also means that you can scale, whether you’re bringing new users on board or your existing customers are growing. For us, the bigger the customers that we sign on, the quicker this accelerates. A pay-as-you-go model means that we can scale up or down based on usage with ease.”

Partnering for growth

“Collaborating with Microsoft has meant that we are exposed to the deep knowledge of Microsoft’s different teams who have all supported us in their areas of expertise. Azure’s compelling offer is based on this additional value as well as value for money. First Distribution has been with us every step of the way, particularly supporting our migration. We couldn’t ask for a better partner,” concludes Ross.

Visit to find out more about First Distribution’s migration to Azure for ISVs and the Microsoft ISV program.

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