RewardStream migrates to open source infrastructure

A Canadian company that provides Web-based loyalty programs to corporate clients has moved off Solaris in favour of what an executive described as a more secure Linux-based platform.

Fusepoint Managed Services on Wednesday said

it had completed a redesign of RewardStream Inc.’s IT infrastructure that will load balance its Web site and critical applications. The network, which will be based within Fusepoint’s Vancouver hosting centre, will allow RewardStream to run its applications and database on active standby if needed, and will be fully redundant, executives said.

RewardStream helps companies in a variety of vertical markets automate their loyalty programs by providing an engine that allows consumers to register, get an account and redeem points, either online or through co-branded debit cards from Mastercard and Visa. Simon Tin-Yul Kok, the company’s technical solutions manager, said the company had originally hosted its loyalty programs in-house until some large clients started to demand continuous uptime. That’s why it started hosting with Fusepoint several years ago, and why it decided to move more of its overall infrastructure management as well.

“The system itself — in terms of the uptime and the servers configured properly — wasn’t our expertise,” he said. “This is to make sure that Oracle is running and tuned properly and the Internet is always at full bandwidth. And if there’s a power failure, fire, even a terrorist attack, all that will be maintained by people who have that expertise.”

Fusepoint senior vice-president of sales and marketing Robert Lalonde said the company takes a standard open source distribution and then “hardens” it to improve security.

“We don’t really change (a standard Linux distribution like) Red Hat, but we take any unnecessary entry points out of the OS,” he said. “We close those doors.”

Sun Microsystems recently launched Solaris 10 and announced plans to offer it up as an open source product, but that decision hadn’t been made when RewardStream was considering its options, Tin-Yul Kok said. “Four years ago, Solaris was basically its own product and competing against operating systems like Windows,” he said. “The main thing was the ability to get updates and builds more securely and faster. Fusepoint has the technical resources to modify their own secure builds.”

Fusepoint will be able to regularly review and test the proprietary Linux-based code to ensure that there are no security threats to the RewardStream system, Tin-Yul Kok said. Fusepoint is also conducting a security audit of its entire data centre that includes a look at Canadian-specific regulatory requirements, which should be completed next month. 

“There’s a lot of managed services companies or ISPs that won’t even do that,” he said.

RewardStream has been a Fusepoint hosting customer since 2001, Lalonde said.  

“In the last six months we have upgraded the relationship,” he said. “We’re seeing a lot more of that, where the hosting provides an entry into more outsourced services.”

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