Natixis Global Asset Management ($874.5 billion AUM 1) is a multi-affiliate organization that offers a single point of access to more than 20 specialized investment firms in the Americas, Europe and Asia. The firm ranks among the world’s largest asset managers. Through its Durable Portfolio Construction philosophy, the company is dedicated to providing innovative ideas on asset allocation and risk management that can help institutions, advisors and individuals address a range of modern market challenges.
The Financial Services (FS) industry is well-known for its risk-averse attitude. Reticent to adopt new technologies due to a continued concern over security breaches and complex regulatory restrictions, the industry has fallen behind the innovative leaps evolving in our digital world. However, we are finally seeing this begin to change as organizations fight to maintain a competitive advantage.
A Changing Paradigm
At AWS re:Invent 2015, Capital One, AWS’ poster child for cloud adoption in the FS industry, presented its successful cloud journey, paving the way for its financial peers.
Broader adoption of public cloud across enterprises, as well as the significant shift towards consumerization of IT, is leading FS companies to rethink how they have traditionally approached IT operations. A significant portion of their IT budget, once allotted to maintaining their data centers, is now being refocused on innovation, reallocated to improving business agility, and delivering value to their customer.
An Industry Pioneer
Natixis Global Asset Management (NGAM), one of the world’s largest assets managers, is now amongst a growing number of FS pioneers, transforming their traditional IT operations to increase business agility, streamline costs and better align their business needs with IT capabilities.
In early 2015 Natixis Global Asset Management was in the process of moving data centers and wanted to evaluate the public cloud as a possible alternative. The firm engaged CTP to conduct a proof of concept (POC) to learn whether AWS could provide the expected benefits to meet their needs. The POC was an indisputable success. After running several sample applications at an elevated speed and with the added ability to make changes without waiting on central IT, NGAM instantly recognized the value that would lead to increased speed to market, agility and turn- around time.
A Prescriptive Approach
Following their initial POC, Natixis Global Asset Management dove into a full scale migration of their production workloads, working with CTP to ensure that all elements of the cloud’s networking, security and operational management were met on AWS. In adhering to CTP’s Cloud Adoption Program (CAP), the teams worked closely over the course of six months to conduct a Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) assessment, identify all legal and technical requirements, develop the necessary account structure, establish network connectivity, build a Minimum Viable Cloud (MVC) and address monitoring and operational concerns. They did all this before establishing a production environment that would take full advantage of multiple AWS services, including VPC, EC2, S3, Glacier, CloudWatch, SQS and CloudTrail.
Engaging NGAM’s security, legal and compliance personnel, CTP ensured that access to the AWS production environment was adequately protected, the appropriate data governance mechanisms were in place and full traceability of activities was available to fulfill regulatory requirements. Using AWS services such as CloudTrail, CloudWatch, VPC Flowlogs, VPC security groups / ACL and other third-party security and inspection products, enabled the implementation of a secure and protected public cloud environment.
“Natixis Global Asset Management engaged CTP based on their expertise in building stable and scalable cloud infrastructure on AWS. Their end-to-end approach to cloud adoption, spanning strategy to production operations, combined with their experience of financial services firms, gave us the confidence we needed to move our business line to the cloud.”
– George Marootian, EVP, Head of Technology at Natixis Global Asset Management
A Successful Migration
Following the development of a fully operational production environment on AWS, CTP helped Natixis Global Asset Management first refactor applications to optimize AWS capabilities, then to migrate these key applications to the cloud. As part of this migration, CTP implemented and championed an agile Build / Release process that included Jenkins, Git, and other popular open-source tools.
Natixis Global Asset Management faced another common FS challenge concerning the significant amounts of internal and external data the organization received and processed. Data operating in traditional centers must undergo a certain amount of transformation in order to be stored in data warehouse systems and be consumed by various parties in the cloud. In order for NGAM’s data-centric applications to run efficiently in the cloud, their data also needed to reside there. Moving away from a traditional MS SQL server on-premises, Natixis Global Asset Management migrated 1TB of data to MySQL on AWS. NGAM also migrated their on-premise ETL processes for increased flexibility and agility. Migrating these processes also showed immediate benefits by reducing licensing and operational costs.
Empowering the Team
Cloud adoption, no matter where your organization falls in the journey, is a huge transformational play that requires changes in approaches, responsibilities, skill sets, behavior, and organizational dynamics. A cloud initiative needs to include proper training that will enable internal IT teams to succeed, after the consultants have left the building. Throughout the engagement, CTP delivered ongoing training sessions to the firm’s staff, allowing them to stay engaged and learning, throughout the process.
Public Cloud Growth
According to a 2016 Gartner report, the worldwide public cloud services market is forecast to reach $204 Billion in 2016 and continue its strong growth throughout 2017 and beyond. Public cloud vendors have made significant strides in ensuring that cloud services are secure and adhere to various regulatory and industry standards (HIPAA, PCI, SoX, FedRAMP, etc), in order to pass muster with external auditors.
AWS has been actively enabling the FS industry to adopt the cloud with their one-day Financial Services Cloud Symposiums. Working with CTP and other ecosystem partners, AWS is leading and fostering discussions around how the cloud is benefiting and driving innovation within the industry. Public cloud adoption is on the rise and Natixis Global Asset Management and other cloud pioneers are on the forefront of that revolution.