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Case Study: Simply Business — Semaphore

Simply Business Streamlines Continuous Integration for Its Enterprise System Using Semaphore

Simply Business logo

Key Results:

  • Lower maintenance costs combined with increased speed and efficiency
  • Successful adoption of continuous integration in enterprise software development
  • Simple CI management for a team of over 30 developers

Launched in 2005, Simply Business is an online brokerage service, delivering policies tailored to individual business requirements. The UK’s largest business insurance provider, they provide insurance to over 300,000 UK SMEs, covering over 1,000 trade types. It has been a Sunday Times Tech Track 100 company for the past three years and was recently named in the Deloitte Technology Fast 500 EMEA.

The challenge

Speeding up the Delivery of an Enterprise Solution

Simply Business is the UK’s largest online insurance broker for small businesses. They are primarily an online company — all of their customers come through their website. Thanks to this model, they have been growing rapidly, issuing policies to hundreds of thousands of clients.

Simply Business team photo

In business insurance, efficiency is at the very core of the business. In 2010, the IT team faced the challenge of needing to speed up adding new functionality to their online insurance platform. Lukas Oberhuber joined Simply Business as their CTO to help the tech team adopt the agile methodology and increase the scope, speed and efficiency of their service.

One of the challenges the team needed to tackle was finding the right continuous integration solution: “We were using Jenkins to build the old system, and it was hard to maintain and quite painful. We were also looking at other hosted CI services, but they were very unreliable. We looked for the simplest solution, and got our application up and running on Semaphore pretty quickly. We’ve kept using it more and more since then, and now we use it for most of our projects”, says Lukas.

The solution

Simple and Reliable Hosted CI

There are a lot of details that need to be taken into account when testing an enterprise class system. Simply Business managed to resolve all of the complexities involved using Semaphore for continuous integration. Another important benefit for them was that Semaphore constantly adds new features, such as Docker support.

Lukas Oberhuber photo

Lukas Oberhuber
CTO at Simply Business

“I think that the biggest benefit is that we don't have to maintain a bespoke build environment and deal with the hassle of maintaining it. The integration with GitHub is absolutely crucial. The fact that any time you push something, it just goes straight to Semaphore.”

The Simply Business tech team recently came across an interesting challenge of needing to be able to continuously deploy the phone system during the day, while their staff are on the phone, talking to customers. Nobody does test-driven development with Twilio, so the team had a great feeling of success when they managed to test a Twilio integration including WebRTC using Semaphore.

“Semaphore is easy to set up, and it suited us really well throughout the years. Semaphore developers have been very responsive to support queries — early on, we had quite a few discussions about how to do certain things, and that's been really helpful. Semaphore just works.”

All of Simply Business’s new projects are tested and continuously delivered, and they're all running on Semaphore for testing purposes.

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