From the thrill of live results on election night to streaming music with Spark, Catalyst is behind some significant and exciting projects. The New Zealand-owned company specialises in open-source technologies both here and abroad. In the second of our sponsor interviews, we speak to the Catalyst team.
Could you tell us a little bit about Catalyst and its approach to business?
Catalyst is a talented team of open source technologists. We live and breathe open source. Our unwavering belief in free and open source software hasn’t changed through our twenty year history.
From our HQ in Wellington as well as our other offices around New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom, we take great pride in producing intelligent solutions for tricky business problems.
We help our private and public sector clients with all kinds of web applications and the back-end systems which support them. We also provide UX and design services, consulting, and our own Catalyst Cloud.
Catalyst is New Zealand’s largest open source service provider. What makes your Cloud service unique and successful?
The Catalyst Cloud is the first NIST-compliant and API-driven public cloud in New Zealand. Our cloud has introduced real cloud computing flexibility, scalability and elasticity into New Zealand. It has similar functionality to, and full compatibility with, other cloud services like Amazon AWS.
Catalyst developed the system used in the general election, including processing votes and providing live updates on election night. Tell us more about Catalyst’s work on enrolment and election software.
We’ve worked on the Electoral Commission’s enrolment and election management systems for more than ten years, and we’re proud to say our solution helps the Electoral Commission maintain one of the most accurate voter rolls in the world.
We’ve delivered the core election management system for the last four general elections, as well as a number of by-elections. The system performs the MMP calculations and provides detailed voting data to all the major media organisations. It also supports election planning and management of properties such as polling places and advance voting facilities, personnel management and inventory management. We also host the public election results website.
For 2016’s flag referendum, we introduced OCR recognition software, allowing completed voting papers to be ‘read’ electronically, making the job of election officials much easier.
Such mission-critical systems are at the heart of what we do – having worked with us for so long, the Electoral Commission trusts us completely to provide failsafe solutions.
How would you describe the technology scene in New Zealand? Are companies friendly with one another or is there a competitive spirit?
Catalyst is a founding member of NZRise, an organisation which represents the interests of New Zealand technology companies. Members collaborate to influence government policy in this space. Kiwis can and do compete globally on the tech scene and we support other kiwi businesses who want to go global.
How has the market for open source software changed in recent years? How big a player is New Zealand on the international scene?
In the last 4-5 years, there has been increased willingness by enterprise players to use and invest in open source for core infrastructure and applications. This change has accelerated more recently with the prevalence of cloud computing, as well as young developers’ interest in open source projects. Young developers like open source because it’s easier to innovate, leading to better solutions for everyone.
Why is Catalyst sponsoring the Tech Summit? What benefit does the Tech Summit bring to the industry?
We see the value of people in our industry from across the region coming together in one place to inform and inspire each other. We’re also keen to make new connections across the technology sector.
Catalyst are Gold Sponsors of the Canterbury Tech Summit