This independent technology and service provider for investment solutions is headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland and has a presence in Geneva, Monaco, Guernsey, Frankfurt, Paris, London, Singapore, and Hong Kong. Within this space, the company brings industry-defining expertise to deliver state-of-the-art automated IT infrastructure technologies for the financial services sector. Since it was founded in 2007, its modern IT platform focuses on deep integration across complex financial toolsets to better manage investment solutions and drive partnerships with partner banks, insurance companies as well as commercial clients.
As the company continues to grow, there are numerous in-house and externally built applications which address various needs. However, to ensure they can successfully scale the technological, geographical and product landscape to meet customer and partner demands, there are constant investments being made to further optimize applications, build tools and processes across all the IT, engineering and development teams. In addition to the optimizing efforts, the company is focused on implementing an application management solution that is infrastructure agnostic which can support VMware today and extend to secondary cloud destinations (either on-premises or public cloud environments).
As a service provider, the company is currently white labeling services for clients and partners and needs to ensure that the platform is performing across multiple environments. They faced limitations due to dependencies on certain infrastructure environments; thus, having a platform that is agnostic to the infrastructure provider was critical for building out a new deployment model. The goal was to welcome any new application set regardless of the infrastructure and client dependencies. It was difficult to replicate and deploy new environments for similar application stacks and individual components that had dependencies on other services.
Given regulatory requirements, another major challenge was how to address security and configuration of applications across a given infrastructure where services are generated on the fly. This includes passwords needing to be stored, certificates needing to be fetched, configurations for a set of VMs; which ultimately lead to application packages being supported across various clients. “It doesn’t stop with deployment. Management and security are critical.”
Since the company is managing a large number of Scala, Java and .Net applications, Windows and Linux environments, as well as having strict compliance requirements, having a solution that could be implemented within their own datacenter on-premises on VMware and CloudStack is critical. It wasn't necessary to have a single tool to do everything, but a set of offerings that complement one another and deliver a stable set of capabilities. “It’s confusing trying to integrate or enable and disable features across multiple tool sets with overlapping capabilities.”
IT implemented Cloud Application Manager to drive their consolidation and further improve the deployment process across multiple teams by first leveraging workspaces as an environment and tenant separator. This enables instant sharing and collaboration on a varying set of applications, agnostic of the infrastructures being used. They are standardizing the full nagios and ELK monitoring stack on Cloud Application Manager so that it can be easily set up and replicated on demand based on various application sets. To streamline and validate the new deployment process, IT chose to cherrypick some applications that can stand alone or have limited dependency on the rest of the environment tools.
Integrating with existing Hashicorp tools have unlocked benefits in managing distributed key/value stores with services registration and dynamic DNS generation. In an effort to resolve security concerns and make service discovery dynamic, these third-party tools have been leveraged to deliver a holistic solution for both deployment, management and on-going security control.
Having an integrated solution that enables the provisioning of the key/value store from a GIT repository and the reuse of the application configurations on machines is a huge benefit to a platform that scales and integrates within a heterogenous environment. The goal is to synchronize the key value store as processed local environment variables or leverage the use of templates to generate configuration files on the fly. This could potentially be referenced environment variables and truly be agnostic of any specific infrastructure stack allowing passwords and other variables to come from a secure store.
From a process perspective, the Cloud Application Manager approach empowers IT engineering and developer teams to collaborate with product solution engineers to package the application script boxes, bootstrap the infrastructure resources and then make sure the reusable services are available in the GIT repository. This collective approach is managed within the Cloud Application Manager platform and integrates with varying external tools that engineering and development are using.
Having a cloud infrastructure agnostic platform will help in the future, and having deployments and infrastructure centralized significantly increases manageability. Additionally, the consolidation of both the environments, applications and tools fosters a culture of collaboration and drives efficiency. As these release cycles occur bi-weekly cadence (software one week and infrastructure on another) along with disaster recovery practice drills, Cloud Application Manager is ideal for having a clear line of sight on the application components and tools associated with the process - which is managed by separate runbooks.
As more teams and workspaces are leveraged within Cloud Application Manager, the deployment and provisioning will be simplified as developers will self-serve their own environments as needs arise. Essentially, the consolidation between development and infrastructure is aided by using scripts and other proprietary tools that are now managed in a single platform.
As a global operating company and financial institution, the company foresees a fully integrated platform that is much more flexible across multiple environments that support a wide range of application services, while still maintaining regulatory compliance. For non-production environments, multi-cloud adoption will occur at a faster pace, and Cloud Application Manager aids in both of those scenarios.
Cloud Application Manager is ideal for supporting an on-premises environment and offers customers the flexibility to scale over time. Being able to support complex applications and environments has been instrumental in growing adoption across the IT engineering and development teams. The company evaluated several solutions. For example, Rightscale could not address the private cloud scenario where a virtual appliance is critical given the regulatory requirements. Similarly, Cloud Application Manager exceeds the benefits from SaltStack which is a primarily a Linux focused platform and does not provide a rich UI portal which simplifies collaboration and self-service experiences. Beyond the functionality, feature set and usability, the simplicity to onboard to Cloud Application Manager versus Cloudify is paramount as integrating with existing environments is key.
A strong advantage for Cloud Application Manager is that it does not have a firm opinion about when and where customers are required to deploy. Whereas, other solutions tend to have strict frameworks that don't allow customers to bring their own unique scenarios and processes. This makes the platform very adaptable and relevant for teams that have nuanced approaches to applications and services.
Taking a long-term view, the company is standardizing on Cloud Application Manager because of the product potential and the deep level of support and services from the Cloud Application Manager team. Engaging with the engineering team and collaborating on complex applications and environments has been invaluable and contributes to on-going enhancements on both sides of the relationship.