AWS Migration: Investment Firm's Trades Flow at the Speed of the Market with Flux7

  • September 13, 2018

The idea of the trading floor conjures images of people in funny jackets gesticulating wildly and madly scribbling on notepads when they aren’t shouting orders. Yet, this hectic vision of a trading floor is slowly becoming a relic of the past as trading goes virtual and traders handle more and more business through the Internet. In this new paradigm, those trading firms who are primed for speed have a clear advantage. As a result, we recently had the opportunity to work with an investment firm who was looking to gain competitive advantage by migrating its on-premise systems to AWS with a goal to grow the robustness of its trading, analysis and financial management functions while maintaining a secure posture — all without breaking the bank. Read on for this AWS migration case study.

The customer is an alternative investment firm with approximately $10B under management. A top-rated investment firm, the company has offices across the south and east whose business focuses on three teams: trading, analysis and capital management. An open, entrepreneurial firm, as an AWS Premier Consulting Partner, we were approached by the CTO who was interested in growing automation in order to better serve the business. As the backbone of much of the firm, technology has the potential to be a true differentiation for this firm.

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DevOps Automation

To help the firm sprint ahead of competitors, the CTO wanted to grow automation. He called AWS Premier Consulting Partner, Flux7, to help the firm assess how it could modernize by migrating its applications to the AWS cloud and applying advanced DevOps automation.The Flux7 DevOps team began by conducting a thorough assessment to understand the applications that the firm wanted to include in its AWS migration and how the migration could support the company’s technology, process and business needs.

Through the assessment, it became clear that the challenge the firm’s infrastructure engineers faced was to:

  • Create a secure AWS networking infrastructure with IPSec connectivity to its on-premise data center
  • Automated server provisioning in different environments
  • Create appropriate naming and tagging conventions to streamline automation, and
  • Create cloud governance policies across their organization, enabling cloud best practices while empowering developer freedom which fosters innovation.

As a result of these challenges and company priorities, it was agreed that phase one of the project would be to migrate the firm’s Jenkins workloads to the AWS cloud, speeding automation. The company’s on-premise Jenkins builds took anywhere from six to eight hours to execute and moving to the cloud allows the team to create Jenkins slaves on demand and terminate them when the build completes.

Teach to Fish

Flux7 specializes in teaching its customers the skills and knowledge to effectively manage and extend their AWS infrastructure for ongoing success. This investment firm embraced this approach, with two engineers ‘joining’ the Flux7 team as trainees, getting access to Flux7 tools and training. They worked side by side with Flux7 engineers to learn about various AWS core services like VPC and networking, Amazon EC2, AWS ELB Autoscaling and more. They also learned how infrastructure can be provisioned as code using tools like AWS CloudFormation.

Wanting to migrate the applications themselves, Flux7 helped the firm plan a roadmap for greater robustness through automation, scalability, and security. The Flux7 roadmap recommended:

  • Docker to containerize the firm’s applications and Ansible to automate provisioning and configuration management.
  • A CI/CD hub to streamline the organization’s release processes.
  • A dual AWS region approach, ensuring business continuity.
  • Security tools and controls like creating a master key at AWS KMS to use for encryption and decryption of other keys; CloudTrail for governance, compliance, operational auditing, and risk auditing; and other security best practices.

With the Flux7 assessment, training and roadmap, the firm now has a solid template to build on moving forward — from a solid technology architecture that will grow and extend with the company — to a team that has been trained on the tools and processes to ensure it does.

When we first sat down to talk with the firm, we asked what differentiates them from others in the industry. Their answer, “We get to the cheese first.” And, with this AWS DevOps automation project, they are proving once again that is the case. With a new containerized infrastructure that runs in the AWS cloud, this financial services firm has modernized its systems to gain greater automation, uptime and security, assuring its reputation as a firm with an entrepreneurial spirit and a trusted industry leader.

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