Alert to industry trends towards greater digitization, BFC Group had embarked on a redevelopment of its core application — but its on-premises infrastructure was struggling to provide the required levels of performance and reliability.Solutions Multicloud, Security Platforms Cloud, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Security, Rackspace Security Essentials
Maintaining a 40-year winning streak
Since installing its first servers 40 years ago, BFC Group Holdings has leveraged technology to maintain its competitive edge in the regional remittance and foreign exchange markets.
Over the years, those servers multiplied into fully fledged, mission-critical data centres supporting the company’s expansion to 46,000 pay-out agents in over 30 countries worldwide and — more recently — its growing online operations. But anticipating the shift away from brick-and-mortar stores and towards greater digitization next big transformation, and keen to create a flexible platform to support further international expansion, BFC Group embarked on a redevelopment of its core business application.
As Ebrahim Nonoo, the Managing Director and CEO of BFC Group Holdings explained, “We don’t expect the traditional brick-and-mortar business model to be around for too much longer, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Our goal is to cross over more decisively into the digital space, by modernizing our core application to better support both models — digital and physical — while allowing us to accelerate digital innovation.”
This work on its core application quickly revealed the limited ability of BFC Group’s on-premises environment to support this transformation. “As we redeveloped our application, our on-premises environment struggled to provide the performance required,” said Ali Fakhreddine, Bahrain Finance Group’s CIO. “We didn’t want to invest in refreshing the infrastructure and all that entails, because we know that is not where the future lies. So we brought forward our plans to move to the cloud.”
A technology foundation for business growth
At the recommendation of AWS, the company’s chosen public cloud partner, BFC Group shortlisted Rackspace Technology as a support partner for migrating its core application to the cloud and providing ongoing management and consultancy services.
“What we are best at, is taking care of moving our customers’ money around the world; it’s vital that we focus as much of our resources as possible on delivering that service to the very highest standard,” said Nonoo. “We selected Rackspace Technology because it quickly became clear that what they are best at it is providing the technology foundations for companies like ours to achieve their business goals. With access to its global footprint and the breadth and depth of its teams’ expertise, we know that we have every eventuality covered on the infrastructure and compliance side. Now we can focus resources on growing our business by providing the services that matter most to our customers.”
BFC Group’s core application processes retail and corporate customer transactions, initiated in-store and online. Even before the migration was fully completed, BFC Group saw an immediate uplift in critical measures of performance, such as transactions processed per second, and customer experience. Resiliency in the system has improved and uptime has increased to 99.99% compared to 99.95% with its on-premises environment.
“I see our collaboration continuing long after the migration is closed out, as we look to make our applications more cloud native.”
Driving international expansion and innovation
The flexibility and scalability of the public cloud promises to transform BFC Group’s roadmap for growth, particularly its plans for international expansion. “The beauty of being in the cloud is that we can scale our capacity up and down in line with demand in a matter of seconds,” said Nonoo. “And as we target growth in our neighboring Gulf Cooperation Council nations, we expect to be able to stand up our infrastructure in new markets almost as quickly. Certainly, in days and weeks rather than the six months or more it has taken in the past. We really feel we can enter any market now.”
Hosting its core application in the cloud is also a crucial enabler for BFC Group’s digital innovation ambitions, particularly around mobile and pre-paid wallets and — potentially — its own super app. The cloud has also provided the agility required to continue to support customers during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Quickly enabling customers to access more of our services online while introducing totally new digital services is made a whole lot easier when working in the cloud,” said Fakhreddine.
“Working with Rackspace Technology has been smooth sailing from day one. In fact, I would say this is the best outsourced IT relationship this company has ever had."
Planning for the future with cloud native apps
For BFC Group, the migration is just the beginning of an ongoing journey. “We knew our future lay in the cloud because modern IT environments need to be adapted more frequently,” said Fakhreddine. “You need to keep up with the pace of change to stay competitive and Rackspace Technology is going to play a key part in that for us. We have learned a great deal from them during the migration when it comes to cloud infrastructure and security best practices. The gap assessment we received with the detailed security roadmap on how we could achieve compliance was critical in our successful migration to AWS. I see that collaboration continuing long after the migration is closed out, particularly as we look to optimize our applications to make them more cloud native.”
Nonoo expects that the company’s customers will be the ultimate beneficiaries of the partnership with Rackspace Technology. “With our attention now free to focus on creating a seamless customer journey from A to Z, we can accelerate the discovery and time to market of innovative services that will make the most difference to their experience,” he said.
Nonoo concludes: “Working with Rackspace Technology has been smooth sailing from day one. In fact, I would say this is the best outsourced IT relationship this company has ever had.
The system uptime has improved from 99.95% to 99.99%, increasing its resiliency.
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