To improve performance and reduce manual management, FINCAD wanted to modernize its legacy web application and move it to the cloud but needed technical assistance and training to meet the timeline.Solutions Cloud, Public Cloud Platforms Cloud, Amazon Web Services (AWS)
FINCAD, a Canadian financial services company, builds software designed to value financial derivatives. It serves both retail and institutional investors, including banks, insurance companies and hedge funds. FINCAD’s software helps investors make informed investment decisions with on-demand calculation and analysis of derivatives, alternative reference rates and pricing verifications.
“It was equally a technology implementation and a knowledge transfer.”
Application modernization reduces data center burdens
As a financial services company, FINCAD is subject to stringent compliance regulations and, to be successful, it needs to crunch multiple data streams quickly, securely and accurately. The company valuation system, Insight, was a legacy web application with a traditional database, app server and web server that’s been in use since 2000.
The application lived in a data center where power and cooling were provided, but the management of the system and backups still fell on the FINCAD team. Facing end of life for some of its infrastructure and looking to end its dependence on a physical data center, FINCAD took the opportunity to modernize and move the application to the AWS cloud. This would allow it to run on more performant hardware, modernize the application and integrate automation to streamline management. FINCAD engaged with Onica (a Rackspace Technology company) for support and guidance through the migration.
“With COVID-19, our team was working from home in different geographical areas and having these training modules available to get us up and running really eased the transition.”
Migration planning uncovers deeper needs
The initial engagement focused on the migration. FINCAD set an aggressive completion date that was driven by contractual and industry factors. If it couldn’t make the move before the annual blackout period, FINCAD would be forced to sign another data center contract and further delay its transition. However, after a comprehensive discovery session, it was determined that more than a lift and shift was needed to address gaps in performance, security, compliance and disaster recovery.
Previously, the team had to manually configure servers, a lengthy process that’s prone to human error. Onica transitioned the application to an infrastructure-as-code setup with an automated CI/CD pipeline. To further reduce risk and ensure adherence to stringent FinServ compliance mandates, Onica worked with FINCAD to integrate automation around security, testing, monitoring, compliance and disaster recovery. In addition to monitoring and alerting to any suspicious activity or compliance violations, its environment also has pre-defined instructions on how to react to certain events. Applying cross-platform expertise, the Onica team also advised FINCAD on the most efficient way to manage its mission-critical Microsoft SQL instances in a modernized environment.
In a matter of months, the application was migrated to AWS. FINCAD was able to exit the data center, avoid signing a new data center contract and complete the transition before the end-of-year blackout period. Currently running in a hybrid environment, FINCAD is using the technology and knowledge gained from its Onica engagement to move more elements to the cloud.
The value of Fanatical Experience
Providing a Fanatical Experience® is more than just technical execution; it’s setting customers up for success. Though FINCAD engaged with us for migration assistance, the Onica team dug deeper to help it simplify workflows and apply security, compliance and disaster recovery best practices. Beyond the technical aspects of moving the application to the cloud, Onica provided in-depth training to FINCAD, as well.
The project kicked off during the COVID-19 pandemic, making it impossible to do traditional, in-person training. To lay the foundation for success, the Onica team developed customized training modules to help ensure that FINCAD could manage and optimize its AWS environment after the project handoff. The in-depth training on GitLab, Terraform, Systems Manager Agent (SSM) and other tools included documentation, live virtual sessions and on-demand videos. “With COVID-19, our team was working from home in different geographical areas, and having these training modules available to get us up and running really eased the transition,” recalled Timothy Lee, Head of Support and Hosted Application Operations at FINCAD.
The Onica team not only managed the migration and provided training, but it also helped FINCAD uncover an appropriate incentive program for the project that resulted in further cost savings. “We never realized the amount of support that we could get from AWS,” Lee shared. Onica’s deep knowledge of AWS from both a technical and business perspective, helped FINCAD reduce the project’s overall complexity and costs.
Modernization yields dramatic improvements
Taking an outcome-based, customer-focused approach, Onica delivered FINCAD the technical assistance it needed migrate and modernize its application, along with the tools and training required to manage and grow its environment into the future. “It was equally a technology implementation and a knowledge transfer,” Lee explained.
The new environment, infused with automation and built on a modernized infrastructure, reduces errors, increases productivity and cuts costs for the FINCAD IT team. The move has also provided a measurable improvement for its users. According to Lee, “We measured valuations and they’re running about six times faster now.”
FINCAD has improved the speed of its processes with valuations now running six times faster.
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