DocuSign taps Azure for local hosting

Company plans to double local headcount

Digital signing company DocuSign has installed its software in three Microsoft Azure data centres in Australia – in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra – to enable it to meet the on-shore storage requirements of Australian government customers.

However it has not ruled out expanding into collocation facilities or even building its own local data centres as its business grows.

DocuSign vice president Brad Newton, who heads the APAC region, told Computerworld that the choice of Azure had been made because it best enabled the company to serve Australian federal government customers (Azure was recently given the greenlight to store classified government data).

Newton said that, globally, the company used all three types of facilities.

“We have a global strategy that uses cloud, co-lo and our own data centres. We review that regularly and my guess is that we will end up with a mixture of self-managed, co-lo and third party facilities,” he said

Globally the traffic from DocuSign customers creates huge demands on its resources, according to Newton: “We have something like 350,000 customers globally and on any one day there are close to 200 million users of our services.”

Newton said all future Australian customers would be served from its new Azure facilities.

“The biggest benefit is for organisations that have a requirement on Australian data residency, particularly for government, but it will also make the service a lot faster for local customers,” he said.

Supporting government digital ID plans

Speaking at the announcement of DocuSign’s local facilities, Michael Keenan, federal minister for human services and minister assisting the prime minister on digital transformation, said services such as DocuSign would play a key role in the government’s digital strategy, due to be announced shortly.

“The new digital strategy we will deliver in the next two months will have a very ambitious goal to make Australia one of the top three countries for digital enterprise by 2025,” Keenan said.

“As part of that the government is going to be one of the best governments in the world to do business with digitally. To achieve that vision we have to build a roadmap that we can hold ourselves accountable to.

“One of the first things we need to get right is to have a digital ID and I am very keen to make sure we have in place by the end of the year a working digital ID that all Australians can use to access government services. Services like DocuSign will be very important to that.”

Newton said that, in Australia DocuSign had grown rapidly and was likely to double its headcount in the next year. “We have over 70 staff currently and 25 open positions, and I have  just had approval for more.”

He said the main requirement was for people who could help customers find new use cases for DocuSign services. “We are specifically looking for experts who can sit down with customers and help them find other uses in their businesses. It's a complex role. We are looking for people with technology backgrounds and project management skills.”

From being simply a more efficient way to obtain signatures, Newton said digital signatures were now being seen as a necessary offering by businesses.

“Our customers are saying that if they do not offer these services they will start losing their customers to someone who does,” he said.

Payments, collaboration and smart contracts

Down the track he said DocuSign was looking to expand its services to include payment services, collaborative document creation, and smart archiving and searching.

“We have recently added payments to our platform, and that is getting some interest. We are also spending a lot of time on collaboration,  to enable parties to collaborate and make necessary changes before a document gets executed.

“And we are starting to play with smart contracts. We want to be able to add searches and the ability  to discover certain types of contracts.

“Our focus is to create a platform that we call ‘system of agreement’ that will help customers originate and build a document and enable it to be easily signed and executed.

“We will be making a lot of announcements  in the course of this year about helping customers make that system of agreement more efficient. We think it will solve a massive problem.”


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