Whitecap built Easylease’s custom application to run its financing business nearly 20 years ago. After years of adding features and functionality, it was time to modernize the application for the future.
Custom Software Development, Application Modernization
Easylease Core Application: NET5, node.JS, Angular, SQL Server 2019, MongoDB, Microservices Architecture
Easylease Mobile Calculator App: Xamarin, iOS, Android
Easylease Web Site: Webflow, Typeform
Hosting: Microsoft Azure
Easylease Corp. is a Canadian leasing and financing brokerage. Since 1997, Easylease has built relationships with more than 40 funding partners to deliver a wide range of leasing and financing services to customers across a wide range of industry sectors.
Easily scalable with business growth
Cost-optimizations to cloud hosting
Improved app performance
Improved business efficiency
Streamlined, more robust workflows
At the core of Easylease Corp.’s business is proprietary software that Whitecap helped the company build more than 20 years ago. While Whitecap and Easylease regularly updated features, business intelligence reporting and functionality, there comes a time when the underlying technology becomes too outdated to continue to support, and additions or upgrades start to cause issues in other parts of the system.
“It was becoming very fragmented,” recalls David Carmichael, President and CEO of Easylease. “When we updated one thing, we’d have to fix 15 others.”
In addition to challenges extending functionality, some of the software at the core of the system was reaching its end of life and end of support.
Carmichael looked at the functionality and workflows available from off the shelf solutions, but none mirrored the way he wanted to run his business.
Without a viable off-the-shelf option, Carmichael once again looked to custom software development and engaged Whitecap to take on the modernization his platform needed.
Recognizing the scale of updates and feature enhancements required, Whitecap did more than simply modernize the application. It uplifted the entire ecosystem, rebuilt the apps as cloud native and migrated everything to Azure, to provide a solid platform for the future. The scale was extensive since there are many different pieces that make up the Easylease software ecosystem, and many elements require secure connections and communication both internally and with funding partners.
Custom software development was the right way to go for Easylease’s application modernization because it allowed them to mirror their established workflows which are unique to their business. Carmichael explains that articulating his workflows and creating the map of the software was time consuming and complex. And, while Easylease’s custom software might seem complex for a business of his size, Carmichael wanted a platform for the future – business growth and software functionality.
“Our new system is substantially more sophisticated and works substantially better,” he says, noting while there was a lot of functionality brought forward from the old solution into the modernized platform, this modernization project also allowed him to create more robust workflows, and add new reporting, business logic and automation.
Microservices are an architectural style that structures an application as a collection of services that are highly maintainable and testable, loosely coupled, and independently deployable. They enable the rapid, frequent and reliable delivery of large, complex applications.
Microservices Built for Scalable Growth
All the core business applications were rebuilt as cloud native, taking advantage of the microservices architecture and Kubernetes.
We developed microservices to manage the various functions of the Easylease applications, including broker management, customer management, funding partner management, B2B credit application integration, lease and payment management.
Each of these microservices is developed separately and independently, with its own logic and functionality, and they communicate with each other using APIs. A microservices architecture aligns well with Easylease’s desire for a scalable, extensible solution that can be expanded and enhanced on an ongoing basis.
This architecture also allows Easylease and Whitecap to update or make changes to the system without needing to modify a monolithic application. One microservice can be modified, the endpoint API updated to make system or reporting changes without impacting the entire system.
Migration to Azure
The legacy software was hosted in an on-premises environment, where implementing Kubernetes could not be done efficiently or cost-effectively. In addition, with the business growing and the potential of white labeling their software, Easylease needed the ability to easily and rapidly scale their applications. Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) was the most logical choice to give them the flexibility and cost optimizations they required.
The migration began with a proof-of-concept in Azure to test that the Easylease applications can run in a cloud native manner using AKS. And to update and test the CI/DC pipeline on Azure DevOps which automates the building, testing and deployment of microservices into the new AKS cluster environment—ensuring any future changes are tested and deployed quickly and consistently.
With so many different workloads, integrations and URLs that had to be preserved, a lot of planning had to go into the migration to make sure everything was performing as expected. Once we were confident everything was working, we copied and moved the databases to Azure SQL Server, made DNS changes to point to the new environment, and deployed the Easylease microservices to the AKS cluster.
The entire ecosystem of business applications is now hosted on an AKS cluster. This includes the Easylease Core Application, Easylease Auth website, Easylease Mobile Calculator App (including hybrid iOS and Android app versions), Easylease Express Lease Calculator and several broker admin tools.
What’s the point of buying something off the shelf that needs to be modified 70%. We felt it was best for our business to design something from the ground up like we’ve done before. With our workflows and features we want; we need something we can customize for our business.
Business Intelligence Enhanced
Dashboards, reporting, and tracking are just some of the key features Easylease enhanced through this application modernization process. Whether a broker or administrator, the dashboard provides high level snapshots of business, as well as drill down details about the status of their workflow, lease progress, budget and performance, and sales funnel details.
“It is very instant. I can see how much is in our sales funnel, and rich reporting data which is excellent,” says Carmichael. “We can see our year-to-date numbers for each broker, total business, which funders we’re more active with and which asset classes are in demand, and so much more. I could go on and on.”
With a business that is growing and new lending requirements, Easylease needed new ways of working and collaborating both internally and with their partners.
In the legacy system, B2B features were not as streamlined as it has become with the modernized platform. CRM features have been enhanced to track leads throughout the funding process, and application submission processes have been automated saving time, increasing accuracy and reducing the amount of manual data input.
“We have links on hundreds of vendor websites and portal links, and they are all Easylease branded. When you visit a vendor’s website to buy a particular product, the finance button connects directly to Easylease where the application process starts. If we didn’t have that we would not be getting the number of leads we are getting today,” says Carmichael.
New Mobile Experience
The Easylease Mobile Calculator is a hybrid mobile app that lets vendors quickly and easily quote lease payments and apply for credit on their phone while speaking with new or existing clients. The app is customized for each partner with their branding and rates and is available in both iOS and Android.
This has made the process of quoting and applying for leases much more user-friendly than having to access the tool via browser as was previously the only option with the Easylease Express Calculator.
Software is IP
Since its business processes are very stringent and defined, the decision to build software from scratch made sense in the beginning and continues to be of value to Easylease today. Its software is a core part of its business and an asset to the organization.
“We have always led the way technology-wise, and I think that’s what gives us our edge. That’s why I often say we are a technology company as much as we are a sales company,” says Carmichael.
Website Update Completes Modernization
With a legacy WordPress site, the client facing website also needed work to improve its user interface, navigation, and page structure. Improved SEO and a platform to attract new brokers and business generation are the primary company goals for the redesign.
Whitecap moved Easylease to Webflow, a cloud-based content management system that facilitates content creation and collaboration. As a Software-as-a-Service platform, moving to Webflow will make it easier for Easylease to add new content and build strong SEO results. It also eliminates the need for frequent updates as is the case with WordPress and its ecosystem of plugins.
“We are a technology company as much as we are a sales and finances company.” David Carmichael, President and CEO, Easylease Corp. “We are very much driven by technology.”
For Carmichael, there will be ongoing updates and feature enhancements to automation, reporting and business processes. He’s also looking to expand the B2B connectivity with lender partners, and to integrate and automate the creation of lease documents.
“I was worried about the stability of the old system. I knew I had to do something,” says Carmichael. “Now that modernization is well underway, I can again focus on other aspects of my business, like recruiting and building my business. It's a big undertaking but I’m glad we're doing it as it will serve us well as we grow in the future.”