Taking PHPIN24 Software to New Heights with Google Cloud

PHPIN24 is a software and product development company that specialises in building tailor-made solutions for enterprises to decrease operational overheads and increase profit margins. There are two main projects at PHPIN24 that are actively being used by their clients, namely, a project management tool for Aspen Pharmaceuticals and FlowSheet. Open Access Energy is another initiative co-founded by PHPIN24’s Christoff Albertyn.

Flowsheet is a paperless business flow solution that is targeted at small to medium-sized businesses with the purpose of helping them scale to larger organisations. Flowsheet allows clients to easily generate forms to gather information from users. Once the form has been created, a QR code is generated allowing users to access the form. Flowsheet allows clients to manage and gather data points independently and efficiently. Clients are charged per data point saved. Clients can push these data points into Google Sheets using the built in Google Sheets API integration providing them with a spreadsheet view of all of their data points that is updated in near real-time. Flowsheet allows users to adapt their forms over time while keeping a version history of previous forms. With the integration into Google Sheets, clients can integrate with Google Data Studio to visualise their data points in a dashboard view and gather business insights from their data.

In order to build such a solution one of PHPIN24’s concerns was finding a hosting platform that could provide low-latency, high availability and reliability while being easy to configure, understand and implement features such as virtual machines, hosted SQL databases, backups and notifications. After a thorough investigation it was found that Google Cloud was the best fit option at the time. Google Cloud had the lowest latency, offering minimal downtime which made it a suitable platform for Flowsheet. Four years ago, PHPIN24 started their journey with Siatik to build the Flowsheet project and since then have scaled up to 230 instances where an instance is a single isolated system deployed specifically for a client who is using Flowsheet to host their data. Since Flowsheet was originally built on older technology, one of the challenges that arose for PHPIN24 was getting Google Cloud to work with Composer which is a package manager app store for PHP developers. However, with the large community support for Google Cloud, these challenges were easily solvable.

The Flowsheet solution involved using LAMP stack which is a development stack available on Google Cloud Marketplace that is deployed on a Google Compute Engine instance. LAMP stack is a variety of software and programming languages that developers can use when building solutions including Linux, Apache HTTP Server, MySQL and PHP. PHPIN24 also made use of Google Cloud Storage for durable object storage and Google Cloud SQL which is a fully managed MySQL, PostgreSQL or SQL Server database in GCP. PHPIN24 uses a range of Google Cloud services and APIs including Google Maps, Google Sheets, Google Location and Cloud Natural Language APIs. Other services include Google Cloud’s alerting and monitoring solutions, Google Analytics and Data Studio for dashboards. Google Cloud’s monitoring platform allowed for PHPIN24 to monitor their servers with a single command, providing them with recommendations on how they can optimise their platform and perform quick upgrades to various components.

Not only has Google Cloud made an impact for PHPIN24 at a project level but also at an organisational level. PHPIN24 has opted to use Google Cloud logins for their systems to centralise the management of users, passwords, logins and ultimately ensure better security. With a large amount of logins being used in the system, the management of passwords was pivotal and this was achieved through Google Cloud’s Single-Sign On. PHPIN24 have also moved over their mailing system to Google Cloud and use various Google Workspace tools including Google Meet, Google Chat and Google Calendar. Clients of PHPIN24 use Google Sheets as a way of managing their databases in a way that is flexible and adaptable to all industries and systems.

Christoff Albertyn, the founder of PHPIN24, has commended Siatik on being a pivotal part in their journey to the cloud, always advising on the best features and practices. Siatik provided PHPIN24 with insight into the best services and products to use for their projects and what would be most suitable for their business. Christoff Albertyn believes that Google Cloud is synonymous with Siatik and is grateful for the support offered by Siatik in being always available and easy to contact.

In the last three years, one of the benefits that PHPIN24 experienced after moving over to Google Cloud has been minimal server downtime where previously power outages in South Africa had resulted in significant downtime and now that dependency is alleviated. The server has not experienced any downtime for the last 1144 days and since PHPIN24 started this project, they have only had to upgrade their database once as their client base expanded from three customers to 230 instances with thousands of customers. PHPIN24 have found the Google Cloud documentation easy to understand and in abundance. Google Cloud has large community support, making it easy to find examples and eliminating the need to frequently contact the Google Cloud technical support team. Since the start of their cloud journey, PHPIN24 have expanded their client base in many industries including, food safety, engineering, health care, automotive, administrative service, wind energy and compliance.

As PHPIN24 continues their development in the cloud, they would like to start using Google Cloud Storage to deliver large amounts of data directly to their clients as opposed to using a virtual machine to deliver files. PHPIN24 are also looking into Google’s Machine Learning offering to automate manual tasks for users such as quality control and classification. This would reduce the need for manual inputs from users and rather use data gathered directly from camera inputs using Google’s Machine Learning APIs. PHPIN24 have seen their business positively transform as they moved over to the cloud, and believe it is one of the best decisions they could have made since Google Cloud is not only cost-effective but well-maintained and well-supported.