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on 16 December 2010

Ubuntu helps KnowledgeTree build client base and reduce costs

Innovative cloud solution serves 200 times the clients for a quarter of the cost


KnowledgeTree wanted to introduce a Software as a Service (SaaS) version of its popular document management solution. Its new infrastructure needed to be scalable, responsive and easy to manage. KnowledgeTree worked with Canonical partner RightScale to deploy a new cloud solution based on Ubuntu Server Edition and Amazon EC2 in under three months. Now KnowledgeTree can test and deploy new features quickly and easily. And its new, robust infrastructure can scale to meet customer demand more effectively. The new solution has seen Knowledge Tree serve 200 times the clients for a quarter of the cost.


KnowledgeTree builds online document management solutions for growing small-to-medium businesses (SMBs). These solutions provide users with secure online access to file-sharing and collaboration tools, which include workflow and document alerts, search and preview features, and full Microsoft® Office integration.

While its existing on-premise solution was popular with customers, KnowledgeTree was experiencing increasing demand for an online document management product that was robust, scalable and responsive to customers’ business process needs.

Renen Watermeyer, Director of Engineering, KnowledgeTree, says: “We decided to go with the Software as a Service (SaaS) model. More and more people want to access their business documents from anywhere, any time. Providing KnowledgeTree as a SaaS solution meant that we could provide a better document management experience for our customers and spend more time thinking about new features rather than worrying about interoperability.”


KnowledgeTree’s new SaaS infrastructure is based on Ubuntu Server Edition and Amazon EC2. The company worked with solution provider and Canonical partner RightScale to deliver the new infrastructure in less than three months.

Watermeyer says: “Working with RightScale made the whole implementation process quick and easy. Ubuntu’s also simple. It works. You don’t have to worry about it. Our physical hardware requirements have dropped considerably too. Our new infrastructure can scale to meet the needs of users much more effectively.”

The new Ubuntu and Amazon cloud solution helps KnowledgeTree to deploy new features more easily. Watermeyer says: “With the cloud, you can evolve every aspect of the platform more quickly. Our development and testing projects have really seen the benefit. For example, deploying a new user interface is much faster and simpler.

“The nature of the development process becomes more incremental. You can take a little risk at each stage and roll back easily if it doesn’t work out. The cost of rolling back in an on-premise environment is much higher. That makes the cloud a hugely attractive proposition.”


Cloud infrastructure enhances scalability

The new cloud model means KnowledgeTree can scale its infrastructure to meet customer demand. Watermeyer says: “Now, when the load gets to a certain threshold, the system will automatically add an extra server so no server ever has to work too hard.

“We can add and remove the number of servers dedicated to each task. That means we can be confident that we’re always making full use of our resources, while our customers continue to enjoy a responsive service. Moving to a multi-tenant, cloud-based model has allowed us to dramatically increase the number of customers we host on any given infrastructure.”

200 times the clients for a quarter of the cost

The Ubuntu-based cloud solution has helped KnowledgeTree build its client base while reducing costs. Watermeyer says: “Our new SaaS model delivers real business value. Now we can serve 200 times the number of clients for a quarter of the cost.

“Over time, this project will see us make significant efficiency and cost savings that will make a real impact on our day-to-day business.”

Ubuntu technology eases implementation

KnowledgeTree found Ubuntu Server to be quick and easy to deploy. Watermeyer says: “Deploying our new cloud infrastructure in less than three months was a real achievement.

“Familiarity with Ubuntu made the entire process much simpler. Its ease of use and robustness also allowed for a fast migration.”

Dedicated support delivers peace of mind

RightScale also gave KnowledgeTree access to Ubuntu and cloud experts. Watermeyer says: “We do document management solutions. We don’t want to spend all our time thinking about scalability – important though it is. If someone has already solved the problem, we don’t need to do it ourselves.

“That’s where RightScale comes in. They have the expertise to make sure that we get the best out of our new infrastructure. That gives us real peace of mind.”

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