National Australia Bank Improves Performance by 30%, Delivers Agility and Growth Readiness by Migrating Murex MX.3 to AWS
National Australia Bank (NAB) enhanced the agility and performance of its capital markets activities by migrating the Murex trading platform to Amazon Web Services (AWS). The bank is one of the largest financial institutions in Australia and serves customers worldwide. It uses Murex’s MX.3 platform for critical trading, risk, and processing functions. NAB found that its on-premises data center infrastructure was inflexible and was limiting MX.3 application performance and agility. NAB engaged Murex and AWS to help migrate the solution to the cloud and have dramatically improved access to computational capacity and their flexibility to innovate.
Modernizing Banking Infrastructure in the Cloud
Providing personal banking, loans, credit cards, and other financial services for over nine million customers across retail, corporate, and institutional banking, NAB is one of the largest financial institutions in Australia. NAB has long been a strategic partner of Murex, which provides enterprise-wide, cross-asset financial technology solutions to capital markets players. Murex’s cross-function platform, MX.3, supports trading, treasury, risk, and posttrade operations, helping financial institutions like NAB to better meet regulatory requirements, manage risk, and control IT costs.
NAB uses MX.3 to manage global FX cash and derivatives, commodities trading, and high-value institutional and corporate trades. However, its physical data centers could not cope with the targeted growth and computational demands. NAB decided to adopt AWS infrastructure that can scale easily to cope with the intense computation required to comply with FRTB regulation, support new business initiatives, and accelerate development velocity. In addition, the bank aimed to improve the efficiency of its infrastructure to reduce costs while maintaining stability across its systems.
NAB worked alongside Murex to migrate its MX.3 platform to AWS. The bank used a suite of AWS services, including Amazon Relational Database (Amazon RDS), a managed service designed to make it simple to set up, run, and scale databases in the cloud.
We have increased both vertical and horizontal scalability using Amazon EC2. We can add new servers as needed, so expanding and increasing compute for new workloads is simple and fast.”
Managing Engineer, National Australia Bank
Migrating Systems in 15 Months to Improve Agility and Efficiency on AWS
NAB focuses on using innovative technology, such as the cloud, to benefit its customers in Australia and international markets. “We had our own data centers,” says Adrian Aw, managing engineer at NAB. “But all our infrastructure, including operating systems and database versions, was outdated. Our strategic initiative was to migrate to the cloud.”
NAB had planned growth initiatives, but its infrastructure was already at capacity and incapable of scaling efficiently to support its business goals. MX.3 is at the heart of the bank’s capital market activities. Therefore, the cloud migration was a significant undertaking. The solution’s global user base includes front office, market risk, finance, and operations teams across Australia, New Zealand, Asia, the United Kingdom, Europe, and the United States.
“The key was to build cloud expertise from a global viewpoint,” says Aw. For support in building this expertise during the early stages of the migration, NAB engaged AWS Professional Services, a global team of experts that helps companies realize their desired business outcomes when using AWS. “The support from the AWS Professional Services team throughout the project has been fantastic,” says Aw. “We had constant contact with engineers who always gave prompt responses and in-depth technical feedback.”
The bank also worked with consultancy group and AWS Partner Contino for additional support, including cloud migration and DevOps expertise. “We felt using AWS services would give us a head start and deliver an outcome that was easier to manage and maintain,” says Aw. During the migration, NAB performed several “dress rehearsals” with Murex engineers, which helped build confidence in the new way of running MX.3. “Throughout the migration, NAB could rely on the Murex Australia team to get support and assistance, from best practices documents and design reviews to weekly meetings and help adapting the deployment to meet security requirements,” says Philip Anderson, lead of operating environment at Murex Australia.
The project took just 15 months to complete, with NAB migrating its entire mission-critical MX.3 platform to AWS between August 2020 and November 2021. During the migration project, NAB business stakeholders and technical teams worked closely. To make sure the new setup would comply with local and international regulators, NAB also put a dedicated team in place early on to make sure any compliance concern was addressed in due time. Because business stakeholders had high confidence in the technology team, the go live was routine.
Achieving Higher Performance and Improved Resiliency on AWS
NAB experienced no outages with MX.3 since the company completed its migration to AWS. “On AWS, we could maintain stability and get a 30 percent performance gain on batch processing from day one,” says Aw. “That was a great benefit for our business users. Global users who operate outside of Australia also reported noticeable performance improvements on AWS.”
For its database compute under MX.3, the bank is using Amazon RDS for Oracle, a fully managed commercial database that makes it simple to set up, operate, and scale Oracle deployments in the cloud. “The simplicity of using Amazon RDS for Oracle was also a big contributing factor in the success of NAB’s transformation,” says Anderson. NAB also uses Amazon RDS Reserved Instances, which give businesses the option to reserve a database instance for a 1- or 3-year term and, in turn, receive a significant discount compared with the On-Demand Instance pricing. “We have a high level of Amazon RDS Reserved Instance use, with production use constant while nonproduction use varies with project demand,” says Aw.
The bank has also achieved improvements in its ability to recover quickly. “We have automated disaster recovery, so it’s as simple as moving an availability zone within Australia and spinning up AWS infrastructure on demand whenever there’s a disaster recovery event,” says Aw. In addition to using availability zones, NAB automatically takes snapshots of its data and applications to further accelerate the backup and restore processes. Disaster recovery used to take several hours, but NAB can now recover in 30 minutes or less on AWS. And the bank plans to reduce that time with further optimizations.
The simplicity of using Amazon RDS for Oracle was also a big contributing factor in the success of NAB’s transformation.”
Lead of Operating Environment, Murex Australia
Using Spot Instances for Nonproduction Purposes
NAB uses Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), a service that provides secure, resizable compute capacity in the cloud, for its application compute capacity. As a result, it has improved its flexibility and can support future growth. “We have increased both vertical and horizontal scalability using Amazon EC2,” says Aw. “We can add new servers as needed, so expanding and increasing compute for new workloads is simple and fast.”
The bank uses several instance types to balance compute capacity with cost efficiency, including Amazon EC2 On-Demand Instances in production environments. After rightsizing its production environments on AWS, it decreased production run costs substantially. And NAB powers 87.5 percent of its nonproduction MX.3 environments using Amazon EC2 Spot Instances—which businesses can use to take advantage of unused Amazon EC2 capacity at up to a 90 percent discount compared with On-Demand prices. “For nonproduction environments, our DevOps engineers use over 30 Amazon EC2 instance types to match different workloads in nonproduction environments,” says Aw. “To optimize costs, we are using Spot Instances.”
Along with the performance benefits, NAB has the visibility and control to drive cost savings by running Murex’s platform on the cloud. “In just the 3 months after going live on AWS, we reduced our costs significantly,” says Aw. The bank achieved this by setting up a cloud cost optimization practice to match capacity to demand. With the adoption of infrastructure as code and by configuring in-house control of its infrastructure, NAB improved its flexibility and efficiency and further reduced its costs. In addition, the transparency of running on AWS helps the bank identify more opportunities for savings and allocate the costs to the teams using the corresponding AWS services.
Meanwhile, NAB extended its automation capabilities to environment creation and management on the cloud. The bank might have 40 or more instances of MX.3 running simultaneously at any given time, and each is isolated, self-contained, and independently managed. On AWS, NAB can build its environment from various components, including the MX.3 software, libraries, and databases, and automate that process to assemble and start them much more quickly. It used to take 8–10 hours to build the environment; the process now takes 1 hour.
“We’ve got automated processes to build new MX.3 installations that are repeatable, reliable, and fast,” says Aw. NAB achieved these benefits with no drops in performance. “All automations just work, and the improvements to our DevOps tooling mean that when we create these environments, the possibility of MX.3 configuration drift or inconsistencies arising is significantly minimized if not virtually eliminated,” says Aw.
By migrating MX.3 to AWS, NAB aligned its infrastructure with global DevOps best practices. The project was a learning experience for NAB’s team supporting the Murex solution. As the bank adapted to run MX.3 on AWS, its engineers had to gain the knowledge and expertise needed to run and maintain the solution. By the time the project was complete, NAB had created a new, autonomous cloud team supporting the Murex solution. This team had built and transformed its operations to run the mission-critical application in the cloud and improve its scalability and efficiency. It delivered a modern infrastructure setup that it can maintain and scale as the business continues to grow and the needs of its business users evolve. “We’ve changed how we do things to maximize our use of all the AWS services that we now have at our disposal,” says Aw. “On AWS, our infrastructure hosting MX.3 is no longer bound in terms of capacity.” With over 12 Murex projects running in parallel, this is especially valuable.
Encouraging Further Learning and Innovation
After the success of its transformation on AWS, NAB’s team sees more opportunities to build its cloud expertise. The bank has trained 7,000 staff members in cloud technology and skills. “NAB, Murex, and AWS have a great relationship in terms of support and encouraging people to gain practical expertise and earn Certifications,” says Aw. “We’ve innovated and proved our cloud expertise by completing a comprehensive cost optimization initiative using the Murex solution. Now, we’re a model of what’s possible on the cloud within the NAB.”
By migrating to AWS, NAB has made the run of MX.3 more scalable, reliable, and efficient. It has expedited the recovery process using availability zones and snapshots and optimized cloud costs by rightsizing environments and using Spot Instances. “This migration has facilitated our ability to build more, onboard more, and increase our development speed,” says Aw. “That means that our business can grow more quickly.”
About the Customer
National Australia Bank is one of Australia’s largest financial institutions, providing personal banking, loans, credit cards, and other financial services to over nine million customers, including retail, corporate, and institutional customers.
AWS Services Used
- Shortened environment build times from 8–10 hours to 1 hour
- Improved recovery speed from several hours to 30 minutes
- Reduced cloud production costs substantially compared with on-premises infrastructure
- Reduced overall cloud costs significantly in 3 months after new infrastructure launch
- Highly automated DevOps processes for faster delivery
- Sped up end-of-day report generation performance by 30%
- Enhanced scalability and reliability
- 7,000 NAB staff members trained in cloud skills
About AWS Partner Murex
Murex provides enterprise-wide, cross-asset financial technology solutions to capital market players in more than 60 countries. Its cross-function platform, MX.3, supports trading, treasury, and posttrade operations, helping clients meet regulatory requirements, manage risk, and control IT costs.
Published January 2023