Global Relay’s In-House Approach Means More Control – and More Accountability

Scalability: it’s everything for Warren Roy and his data solutions company Global Relay.

To earn the trust of global giants in the financial world, and to be able to grow its business to accommodate customer demands, the Vancouver based data solutions firm can’t worry about running into imposed ceilings.

The key to all of this, says founder and CEO Roy, is to have and operate your own “technology stack.” But when you’re as far ahead of the curve as this 15-year-old tech business, sometimes unlikely obstacles emerge on the frontier.

“Canada doesn’t have a lot of good infrastructure to allow cloud companies like Global Relay to grow, so you get to the point where you’ve got to do it all yourself,” says Roy.

And so that’s exactly what he and the Relay team did.

They designed and built a 24,000 sq. foot, state-of-the-art data centre in North Vancouver. Worth $24 million, it is probably the most visible component in Relay’s technology stack – a monument, perhaps, to the great lengths Roy and the company will go to in order to earn and maintain the elusive but coveted trust of financial leaders.

“We recognized a long time ago that the partners that we [outsourced to] weren’t at the level that they needed to be at to meet with the expectations of our customers,” says Roy. “So we took over every single thing in-house.”

It’s a move that the Ottawa-born entrepreneur admits makes them completely accountable, but the big payoff is absolute control. Because they manage their own servers and software development, the company can quickly adapt to customers’ ever-evolving data needs.

“The standards are always changing, so you’re always being asked to step up to the next level,” says Roy. “The last 18 months have just been a relentless focus on security.”

In a post-WikiLeaks world, data security in the U.S. financial sector is priority number one for the American government, and it’s essential for the stability of world markets.

Global Relay’s successful path, recognizes Roy, comes from a close collaboration with its sophisticated customers. So it’s no surprise that when teams of auditors fly up from the U.S. to make their monthly security audits, the cloud pioneer listens and responds accordingly.

These days, the company is investing in the latest tools that will assess technology threats.

It’s a different world from when the company started a decade and a half ago. Roy and his team began by archiving electronic CAD files for architects, engineers and the construction world.

But it was in these roots, before the company shifted to the financial sphere, where the foundation was laid.

Again, long ahead of it’s peers, Global Relay was leveraging open source tools in a cloud-based environment to deliver an earlier version of today’s existing service model. At a time when everyone was betting on Microsoft, Roy and his crew went in the exact opposite direction and wrote all of their own software.

“You have to believe in yourself, common sense has to prevail,” he says. “You have to do what you feel is right because you are responsible for your decisions.”

Those decisions have scaled into a multiple award-winning company with an impressive client base, nestled in it’s own section of Gastown. The company will be hiring at the Techvibes Tech Fest on September 18 in Vancouver.

From there in it’s charming office building, Global Relay serves an international client base and is known for incredible data feats – like emergency data migrations with speeds of up to 10 terabytes (180 million messages) a day.

It’s an incredible 10 times faster than their best competitor, according to Roy. For a company that handles information safety, every competitive advantage counts.

And that makes Global Relay’s customers feel as secure as their data.