MMC are New Zealand’s leading provider of investment administration services to over 100 investment managers, product providers, KiwiSaver schemes and financial advisory groups. Today MMC administer investments with a combined value of over NZD 90 billion.
MMC’s core infrastructure forms the operational backbone for the provision of services to their fund and wealth administration clients whose businesses rely on MMC daily.
Scalable and secure infrastructure
Looking for a scalable and secure infrastructure that would support their current and future growth ambitions, MMC had identified the strategic need to migrate their infrastructure from a New Zealand based data centre and into the public cloud. After a thorough joint review, we recommended that leveraging cloud technology would meet MMC’s requirements for scalability, security and innovation. As their proprietary platforms were built using the Microsoft technology stack, it made sound strategic sense to plan a migration to Microsoft Azure.
Extracting and integrating a new business unit
Also at this time, MMC acquired Aegis, a wealth administration business from ASB. Aegis’s wealth administration platform, which resided in a private data centre, needed to be transferred to MMC. As a first step following the acquisition, we needed to migrate the entire Aegis platform to a more secure and scalable Azure environment.
More than just a lift and shift to the cloud
As part of a wider corporate strategy, MMC wanted to continue embracing the cloud and digital technologies. They had multiple objectives, including wanting to lower their risk profile, further enhance their security levels, drive innovation, reduce costs and deliver a better experience for clients. The move to Microsoft Azure was an opportunity to do more than a lift and shift migration of 20+ onsite VMs (virtual machines), databases, file servers, active directories and application servers. The goal was to future proof the MMC business and position it for continued long term success.
Comprehensive planning for minimal impact
Extracting a business unit’s IT systems from its former parent company and connecting them into a new business requires expert knowledge and comprehensive planning. With data security a primary concern, our teams provided peace of mind through comprehensive infrastructure planning, design and robust testing.
DDoS attacks on New Zealand financial institution
At the same time, our teams were executing the cloud migration, a major New Zealand financial institution experienced a sustained series of DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks. With other local businesses being targeted, there was a real sense of appreciation for the additional levels of security that comes from residing in the Azure cloud.
Safe and secure in seven hours flat
Because of our robust testing processes and forward planning that involved syncing existing systems, we were able to successfully complete the full migration overnight in just seven hours. Azure protection is very comprehensive, including always-on traffic monitoring, and real-time mitigation of common network-level attacks, providing the same defences utilised by Microsoft's online services. The entire scale of Azure's global network can be used to distribute and mitigate attack traffic across regions. Protection is provided for IPv4 and IPv6 Azure public IP addresses.
Microsoft Azure leverages machine learning and has a huge network infrastructure to detect every kind of known threat. Microsoft has over 20,000 developers working on this full time and offers a scale of protection that is impossible to replicate from a New Zealand data centre perspective.
Vedran Babic, MMC’s Chief Executive says: “Migrating to the cloud helps us scale existing and build new capabilities while instilling confidence in our clients because we utilise state-of-the-art Microsoft software tools. System security is paramount to our clients where the hosted data needs to be reliable, secure and accessible. In addition, smart use of data enables us to develop innovative tools and services that leverage powerful insights to facilitate business decisions, while answering a growing need to deliver an additional competitive edge to our clients.”
No disruption to users
The migration to Microsoft Azure went very smoothly and users were unaware and unaffected by what was a huge behind the scenes change. Come the next morning, 90% of users were able to carry on working as per normal, with the remaining 10% required to access more technical programmes in a slightly different way.
Craig Richardson, MMC’s Chief Information Officer says: “The project had added complexity as, in parallel, we were migrating the technology from ASB to MMC. The move to Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) was quick to deliver and well received, especially from the operational teams, as they gained high performance and speed across daily tasks and activities. They could open documents instantly, as opposed to waiting for them to be transmitted.”
Scalability, savings and financial agility
Importantly, MMC now has the ability to scale up and down their technology resources, meaning they only pay for what they’re consuming. Switching to the cloud OpEx (operational expenditure) model, gives MMC the agility and flexibility they need to stay relevant in ever-changing markets.
Craig Richardson says: “Since our move to Azure, we are no longer constrained by the physical world. We are past the sizing limitations — we can quickly reconfigure our servers. Our architecture constitutes a secure and open platform that will cater for growth and innovation while also simplifying system maintenance and upgrades.”
Future proof and positioned for continued success
The long-term goal of moving to the cloud was about future proofing the MMC business and positioning it for continued success by using new features across the platform.
Vedran Babic says: “After moving to Azure, we improved our ability to scale up at a moment’s notice and see performance levels increase. Moving forward, we will continue harnessing the latest technology which includes leveraging Platform as a Service (PaaS) and aim to be completely serverless. We’re also building capabilities around data analytics — providing insights to investors and clients, leading to the success of all parties.”
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