Speakap is a business internal social network where organisations, employees and other parties involved share information and knowledge with each other. With a free and a paid version, it brings the power of social media to organisations.
Where there are employees, there is a need for communication. Externally, to customers and other parties involved, this is usually well organised, but internally it can often be better, faster and easier. Erwin van der Vlist: “We came up with the concept for Speakap to use the power of social media within organisations as early as our student days. We also sold it on a small scale. When an investor became interested, we started to develop seriously. Within a year we worked with almost 20 programmers. All of them were fine developers, but corporate blindness was lurking anyway. Could we judge for ourselves whether the application was good enough for our ambitions? We wanted an independent assessment and called in Ibuildings for audits on architecture, performance and security”.
Patrick van der Mijl talks about the choice for Ibuildings. “Ibuildings is one of the few parties offering high-level consultancy for open source, in our case PHP. Moreover, they have references that are important to us, such as NU.nl. We have the same ambitions when it comes to visitor numbers, speed, scalability and security”. Erwin adds: “Ibuildings really is a specialist in this.
Their knowledge and experience are very valuable to us, not only in technology, but also in structuring our working methods. Moreover, they think along with us about how we can make Speakap a success. We work together as partners.
The first review was an architectural audit. The consultant - specialist in architectures - already analysed the application itself, the infrastructure and the development process during development. The key questions were: is the
Speakap is a business internal social network where organisations, employees and other parties involved share information and knowledge with each other. With a free and a paid version, it brings the power of social media to organisations. Within five years Speakap wants to be the largest European business social network, based on Dutch/European legislation. Unlike, for example, the American Yammer, Speakap is only an online platform and has no ownership rights to data. Speakap is suitable for all organisations with 25 - 25,000 employees and more, nationally and internationally.
application scalable and easy to manage. Especially the scalability turned out to be better. “Ibuildings advised a layered architecture with logically separated software, which allowed us to divide the databases over different servers,” says Erwin. “That made management easier and gave more flexibility for further development. Ibuildings also looked at the site’s performance. They recommended redesigning the caching in order to guarantee the speed of the site. Don’t load 100,000 profiles right away, but always, for example, 20”.
Performance audit: speed by smart caching
A few months later, the second audit followed. This was mainly a test on speed and performance - performance - but also a check on the earlier recommendations for architecture. Patrick: “We asked ourselves the question: what does the application do when 300,000 people use Speakap at the same time? People are used to Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter; super fast platforms that handle data very smartly. That is our reference, because we want Speakap to be at least as fast.
The most important outcome of the performance audit was that we were able to improve caching even further. Ibuildings’ performance specialist gave advice on where we could improve it and how, so that the whole application became much faster”.
Security audits: the apk for applications
The next step was a first safety audit: the baseline measurement. Erwin: “Security is of vital importance for a business application like Speakap. Employees share news about the organization, knowledge, documents, each other’s profiles and more. That must be 100% safe.” Patrick says: “Ibuildings tested everything that was possible, inside and outside the application, so that we could make security as optimal as possible. They tried to hack into the site and saw if you could get to the director’s mailbox as an employee. Above all, we were given recommendations for our own development methodology, so that we could program even more securely. During the second security audit shortly afterwards, Speakap turned out to be safe enough for the pilot.
We keep repeating those security audits on a regular basis. For us, the security audit is the apk for a good application.”
Ten steps forward
After the pilot, Speakap is ready for the outside world. Ibuildings remains involved in the application and advises on the professionalisation of the working methods. The development process, the way of programming, collaboration, test methods. One of the goals is the ISO 27001 certificate for information security, mandatory for Dutch governments and at the same time an objective confirmation of the quality.
Erwin: “The application is ready for 100,000 users, but we can quickly scale up as soon as we need to. The advantage is that we only invest when necessary. Ibuildings has really helped us with that. Patrick concludes: “With Ibuildings we are always 10 steps ahead of what we have in mind. That’s actually their strength: they help us to think that it’s here and now”.