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Highly available, resilient and secure platform design delivering faster application release, scalable architecture, infrastructure as code and business continuity benefits

Overview

nib commenced their Amazon Web Services (AWS) journey in early 2015, determining that AWS was the target IaaS platform of choice by completing a Proof of Concept process.

Following the PoC, a business case to transition the digital footprint of nib’s business to AWS was approved to proceed and the AWS migration program commenced in earnest in December 2015.

In March 2016, nib realised further specialist assistance was required to mature the AWS environment and ensure the platform incorporated the appropriate controls to adhere with its governing standards and guidelines.

nib needed the AWS environment to provide greater flexibility and efficiency by enabling automated environment builds including automated DR and High Availability testing.

In April 2016, CMD Solutions was engaged to perform an AWS platform review and enablement project focused on building in the necessary security compliance controls.

The project was structured to provide nib with confidence that the appropriate controls had been embedded into the platform, and that nib could provide the necessary regulatory bodies with evidence that Red Queen Platform does not present any significant vulnerabilities.

The project set out to achieve the following objectives:

• Reduce operational overhead by creating an automated platform that is simple to manage
• Reduce risk by adopting a highly secure and resilient architecture
• Provide business flexibility by scaling the platform resources to dynamically meet demand
• Achieve lower operational costs in comparison to the existing on premise model

The challenge

The major challenges faced by nib at the outset of the enablement project were:

• Digital innovation initiatives were hampered by a lack of platform automation and standardised patterns
• Each business unit was focused on their own project requirements and not the overarching platform requirements
• The cross functional application delivery teams needed to migrate the existing .NET apps to AWS but there was no detailed migration plan or repeatable platform patterns to use
• The AWS Platform had not been matured and needed work to align with nib’s guiding principles and standards
• nib didn’t have strong AWS architectural skills and experience in undertaking large scale migrations or securing AWS implementations

The solution

The IT operations team at nib realised they needed a more efficient and scalable platform that was also secure and resilient. The team had an emerging DevOps capability however additional expertise in relation to ensuring the platform had all of the necessary security controls built into each environment and its automated processes was required.

The CMD team were engaged to review the existing AWS platform, business objectives, and to form a target state architecture.

The team performed a gap analysis and formed a strategic roadmap to help nib transform from the current platform state to a mature, production ready environment.

CMD followed through from the initial advisory and design work to implementation and support activities designed to ensure the nib team were ready to meet the BAU delivery demands placed on the platform.

Services deployed

The result

Working with the nib team, CMD achieved the following outcomes:

• Creating highly available, resilient AWS design patterns based on finance
and insurance industry experience;
• Implementing production grade security controls and processes;
• Designing and implementing a scalable architecture that can be increased without compromising security controls, using automated infrastructure deployment processes;
• A highly available design across three AWS availability zones, which has improved the resiliency and availability of the application services;
• An efficient platform has been created using a consumption based pay-as-you-go model; and
• Formation of a strong risk and compliance posture.

The following benefits were delivered as a result of the project:

• Faster time to market for new applications;
• Scalable architecture supporting business growth initiatives;
• Enterprise security controls embedded into the infrastructure as code automation improved the organisational risk profile; and
• Efficient and secure infrastructure platform.

The following operational risks were reduced as a direct result of the project:

• CMD designed and implemented a solution that provides High Availability and Business Continuity with security controls built into the platform using a low cost consumption based model; and
• Threats posed by external intruders, malicious insiders and malicious code have been mitigated through the use of high availability and secure architecture for each solution component. This design has ensured the platform is fault tolerant and resilient by avoiding any single point sensitivities and embedding security controls at all layers of the solution.