One of the challenges WePay faces in handling fundraising payments is the lack of visibility into when a given fundraising event will result in a spike of payment volume that is beyond what the vendor can typically handle.
To address this uncertainty, WePay is migrating to the Google Cloud Platform, which received its PCI certification in December. The move to the cloud is expected to be complete by the end of January.
The flexibility to provision new server capacity quickly will be helpful in the case of crowdsourcing or fundraising partners that have special events where they push for extra funding. Unlike the Black Friday shopping holiday, these events aren't always at the same time for all of WePay's clients, and can often be scheduled on shorter notice.
"To meet a peak in volume in an auto-scaling environment is big for us," said David Nye, director of developer operations and IT for WePay.
When WePay launched, it initially focused on powering group payments, but eventually shifted its focus to fundraisers, crowdfunding sites and merchant marketplaces. Its partners provide e-commerce services for entrepreneurs and charitable organizations. And WePay is simultaneously adding technology, such as risk management tools for third party developers.
WePay's core services include managing payment flows, as well as providing merchant services such as chargeback and compliance risk. WePay has used hosted servers to power these needs.
In the past, when one of its partners would require extra capacity, WePay would provision new servers within this hosted environment, a process that could take weeks to complete. "Our partners rarely give us that kind of lead time," Nye said.
By turning to the cloud, WePay can add or remove servers instantly.
The cloud adds cost certainty in addition to speed as WePay's partner base quickly expands, Nye said. "With the cloud, you basically pay for what you use."
Turning to cloud-based data services for spikes in volume makes a lot of sense, said Thad Peterson, a senior analyst at Aite Group. "Above a baseline, cloud-based data storage is a variable expense, so a company like WePay can readily manage the economics of their offering through the peaks and values of demand."
WePay's erratic application workload is almost the perfect use case for cloud computing, said Bernard Golden, a cloud computing consultant.
"The challenge many companies faced in the past was a dilemma whether to overprovision infrastructure to meet occasionally peak traffic, thus wasting capital; or under provision and risk poor application response time, or worse, application crashes due to traffic overload," Golden said.