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By Sonia Varghese, AWS Solutions Architects at Version 1
By Prasad Rao, Sr. Partner Solution Architect at AWS

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Martin Currie is a specialist investment management organization that manages equity portfolios and provides solutions globally for both retail and institutional clients.

With headquarters in Edinburgh, Scotland, and offices in London, Singapore, New York, and Melbourne, Martin Currie remains in close proximity to clients and the global markets alike.

In 2019, Martin Currie made a strategic decision to move to Amazon Web Services (AWS) as its cloud platform of choice.

Martin Currie held its technical estate in data centers in the United Kingdom. This comprised over 120 applications, most of which were residing on Windows operating systems and interacted with SQL Server databases.

The data center contract was expiring in 12 months, and the migration had to be performed at a blistering pace without interruption to the organization or its customers.

In this post, we will describe how Version 1 helped Martin Currie migrate the workloads to AWS over a period of 12 months. We’ll also explore how Version 1 continues to help modernize the company’s workloads using managed AWS services.

Version 1 is an AWS Premier Consulting Partner and Managed Service Provider (MSP) with the AWS Migration Competency. Version 1 is also an AWS Public Sector Partner, AWS Solution Provider, and AWS Well-Architected Partner.

How Version 1 Partnered with Martin Currie

Martin Currie required additional expertise to help migrate and operationally manage its estate on AWS.

Martin Currie’s employees were additionally seeking to enhance their in-house knowledge of AWS to better understand how to leverage the cloud. It was an opportunity to find AWS-provided solutions to meet their organizational and strategic needs.

Version 1 and Martin Currie had an existing partnership, with Version 1 providing support across their database and applications environment over the previous five years.

Based on this strong relationship and Version 1’s proven AWS expertise, Version 1 was selected to be Martin Currie’s migration partner. Martin Currie was also looking for a partner that was close geographically to its headquarters in Scotland, where Version 1 has an established presence.

“When selecting a cloud transformation partner, Version 1 was an easy decision. Not only did they have the technical expertise we sought in AWS, but they were a reliable partner that we trusted could deliver to our requirements,” says Levi Fletcher, CloudOps Engineer at Martin Currie.

“This is a decision we consider a massive success at Martin Currie. The team at Version 1 were always on hand to assist with anything we needed throughout the migration to AWS. Whether it was advice, architecture designs, or hands-on implementation, Version 1 ensured we delivered based on our requirements and helped upskill our team in the process by continuously sharing their knowledge with us.”

Assessing Martin Currie’s Cloud Readiness

Prior to performing the migration, Martin Currie’s position was assessed by using the AWS Cloud Adoption Readiness Tool (CART). This assessment provided a readiness plan across the organization’s business, people, process, platform, operations, and security capabilities.

The Migration Evaluator gave Martin Currie insight into their current infrastructure on the data center, and detailed reports were generated containing workload utilization statistics. This analysis helped determine the most appropriate and cost-effective resources to deploy on AWS.

Version 1 provided Martin Currie with guidance and input, including AWS architecture design, cost optimization, security, reliability, performance, and operations. These pillars were based on AWS Well-Architected Framework best practices.

Building the Solution

The team of AWS experts at Version 1 worked closely with Martin Currie to design and architect the estate on AWS for scalability and high reliability.

Though Phase 1 was primarily leveraging a “lift and shift” approach to complete the migration with the tight timelines, the aim was to reduce the operational overhead and overall cost.

The following diagram shows the high-level architecture designed by Version 1 to provide resiliency and high availability for Martin Currie.

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Figure 1 – Martin Currie’s AWS platform.

Providing Connectivity for Migration and Remote Access

One of the business challenges Martin Currie faced was the lack of remote access for some of their users. To solve this challenge, there was a decision to introduce a Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) solution utilizing Amazon WorkSpaces.

By creating a golden Amazon Machine Image (AMI) of an Amazon WorkSpace, it became possible to deploy a new desktop for a user within 15 minutes. This new desktop would contain all necessary applications, allowing users to be fully operational after a short wait.

By Using Amazon WorkSpaces, all employees were able to work globally from Martin Currie offices at home or other remote locations.

AWS Quick Starts for Remote Desktop Gateway provided a predefined set of resources and AWS CloudFormation templates to deploy Remote Desktop Gateway on AWS. The deployment guide provided detailed instructions to facilitate this task of the migration.

To secure the migration of data between the data center and AWS, a Site-to-Site VPN was deployed and provided the ability to encrypt traffic. AWS Transit Gateway was used as the central hub in the “hub-and-spoke” network design on AWS. From the Transit Gateway, all other VPCs were able to communicate to each other and the data center.

Cost Optimization

With the deployment and output of AWS Migration Evaluator, Martin Currie was able to see detailed reports of their on-premises inventory.

The utilization of resources were analyzed, and this helped in right-sizing the company’s AWS solutions. Some of Martin Currie’s existing resources were over-provisioned and right-sizing their resources resulted in significant cost savings.

With the use of tagging and AWS Billing and Cost Management, an ongoing review was carried out to ensure Martin Currie operated at cost efficiency.

Securing Martin Currie’s AWS Environments

Security and privacy was dealt with the upmost importance. Following the AWS Shared Responsibility Model, Version 1 made use of multiple AWS security services to secure Martin Currie’s AWS environments, applications, and data.

Access and privilege is strictly controlled using AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM), while data are encrypted at rest using AWS Key Management Service (AWS KMS). Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is enabled for the user WorkSpaces and application accesses.

Networks were secured using private endpoints, network security groups, and network access control lists.

Designing for High Availability and Disaster Recovery

As Martin Currie’s existing data center was in Scotland, the eu-west-2 region was chosen as the primary region for hosting workloads on AWS.

The core business applications are spread across multiple AWS Availability Zones to enable high availability for the applications in the event of technical issues in a single zone.

Version 1 worked with Martin Currie on a disaster recovery scoping exercise with a multi-region plan being implemented.

Utilizing Automation to Reduce Errors and Operational Overhead

To ensure repeatable, version-controlled resource deployments, Version 1 used AWS CloudFormation as the choice for infrastructure-as-code (IaC) tooling.

The simplicity of CloudFormation allowed Version 1 to model the Martin Currie environments. CloudFormation permitted changes to be controlled and deployed rapidly to environments therefore reducing the risk of any manual errors.

AWS System Manager controlled the infrastructure after deployment. It was used to update virtual machines, monitor, detect, and resolve issues without the need for an operations user to manually having to access each virtual machine.

Migration of Workloads

The migration was carried out using CloudEndure Migration. This service allowed Version 1 to simplify the lift and shift of Martin Currie’s resources to AWS.

The CloudEndure Agent was deployed to the data center machines and allowed communication back to AWS. Test runs ironed out any issues that arose during the production cutover.

To reduce the management and maintenance of files, Amazon FSx was deployed. This allowed for files to be protected and backed up as part of the configuration. The low-cost file storage was provisioned based on the amount of the storage required.

Real Difference Delivered to Martin Currie

Using all of the AWS technologies mentioned in this post, along with the expertise of Version 1, Martin Currie successfully migrated their applications to AWS within the expected period.

Having performed the migration successfully, Version 1, AWS, and Martin Currie were able to collaborate and provide synergistic value to the wider organization.

Martin Currie’s existing arrangements were inefficient. They incurred significant costs for under-utilized resources. By moving to AWS, they adopted a partial operating expenditure model that was more efficient and had a greater alignment with the company’s operating model. This is forecasted to lower the total cost of ownership (TCO) of their technology stack.

Migrating its infrastructure to AWS means Martin Currie will be in a better position to leverage innovation using cloud-native services. It allows Martin Currie to be agile, flexible, and respond to market trends and competitors by taking advantage of the scale at which AWS operates.

“Taking advantage of AWS services such as the Migration Evaluator (formerly TSO logic) meant we were able to audit our entire technology enterprise and select the appropriate, right-sized, services in AWS,” says Fletcher.

“This also enabled us to look for opportunities to rationalize our infrastructure estate. The cloud migration is forecast to significantly reduce costs by up to 30 percent and allow Martin Currie to take advantage of cloud technology whilst accelerating the agility of our solutions and opportunities to innovate.”

Additionally, Fletcher added: “In terms of our commercial objective of going cloud-first at Martin Currie, moving to AWS helps us in many ways. We have seen a reduction in operational costs since moving from our data center, while massively increased cloud adoption across our estate and our agility in cloud service adoption. Through this initiative, we have laid the foundations for our next phases of modernization in the cloud,” adds Fletcher.

Conclusion

When done right, migrating to cloud results in significant cost savings, increases innovation, and enables organizations to transform customer experiences at a faster pace.

Martin Currie’s relationship with AWS was positively impacted thanks to Version 1’s association with AWS as a Premier Consulting Partner. Version 1 provided a network of AWS experts including solutions architects, engineers, and managed services capabilities to make the project a success.

If you are still on-premises and being cautious about moving to cloud, engage with Version 1 for a cloud readiness assessment.

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