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August 07, 2014
Backupify News

Backupify’s One Millionth User: Meet the IT Architect at Elance-oDesk

Backupify recently celebrated a major milestone – one million users backed up. Elance-oDesk, the global leader in online work, was officially our one millionth user and we immediately wanted to learn more about this amazing customer. Below is a special Q&A with Gordon Thomas, IT Architect at Elance-oDesk.

Tell us a little bit about Elance-oDesk.

Elance-oDesk is the global leader in online work—our sites help independent professionals and businesses to find each other and work together via the Internet. Talent, like software, communications, data and so many other things before it, is moving to the cloud. Elance-oDesk’s vision is to build an online workplace for the world and, in doing so, reimagine work.

What’s your role at the company?

I am the IT Architect at Elance-oDesk. In this role, I design and oversee our entire platform of systems—everything from email to video conferencing. I continuously look at different platform configurations and evaluate how they work to create a cohesive, end-to-end workflow for the company. Ultimately, I am responsible for making sure that everyone’s work tools enable and empower them to get their job done. Because of the global scope of our business—we have more than 500 freelancers working for us worldwide, not to mention 250 full-time employees who all work remotely at least one day every week—the challenges are ever-changing and definitely keep my job interesting.

How has Elance-oDesk embraced cloud technologies?

Elance-oDesk was built on the idea of the cloud so it’s fundamental to who we are as a company. We are focused on making it possible for people to work whenever and from wherever they choose. Without a system of cloud technologies developed, our ability to change the way the world works would be significantly hindered.

When evaluating new cloud technologies, I generally ask these three questions:

  1. Is it safe?
  2. Will it save money, either directly or indirectly?
  3. Is it actually cloud-based?

Security is, without question, the most important issue for us because we’re operating at a different level than a smaller shop or someone who is simply contracting out work. We are acutely aware of the fact that two-thirds of our users are distributed and not working out of our company offices. We therefore, above all else, need to provide safe and secure technologies to enable work to get done and be shared.

What prompted the company to make the switch to Google Apps?

Prior to adopting Google Apps, we, like many companies at the time were hosting our own exchange. In this day and age, it simply doesn’t make sense for any company to host their own mail especially when you look at the suite of tools that come along with Google mail like calendars, hangouts, sites, etc. Not to mention Google Apps eliminates hardware maintenance, it is predictable, and major outages cease to exist.

Why Backupify?

We were looking for a safe, independent third party to handle our data retention needs. We wanted to capture everything we could from emails and documents, and Backupify allows us to do that in a way that is easy, safe and seamlessly integrated with our systems.

What’s the best part of your job?

The people I work with. We are all working towards building an online workplace for the world connecting hundreds of millions of people with unprecedented ease. It’s pretty cool spending everyday thinking about the bigger picture and how I can contribute to changing the way the world works.

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