Old West Achieves Essential Savings and Efficiency Using Amazon WorkSpaces
In 2017, financial services company Old West Investment Management (Old West) was having trouble with its on-premises managed service provider (MSP). The MSP’s technical debt, unclear licensing fee structure, and complex management environment led Old West to decline a multiyear renewal contract, which meant that the company had to find a new option fast. Old West would eventually find a workable solution, helped by Amazon Web Services (AWS) Advanced Consulting Partner RedNight Consulting (RedNight), which connected the company to Amazon WorkSpaces, a managed, secure Desktop-as-a-Service solution offered by AWS. The investment management company made the migration within 2 weeks, meeting its tight deadline. The simple monthly payments for Amazon WorkSpaces replaced the convoluted and excessive licensing fees of the company’s previous MSP, and the solution’s fully managed backend infrastructure enabled Old West to focus more of its time and resources on providing the best financial services for its clients. “AWS is a big part of keeping our business running 24/7 from anywhere we want to be,” says Joe Boskovich, cofounder and partner at Old West.
“For my two partners who are remote 100% of the time and my one partner who’s remote probably 50% of the time, the remote work environment enabled by Amazon WorkSpaces is paramount.”
Cofounder and Partner, Old West Investment Management
Moving to AWS and Away from Technical Debt
Old West prides itself on adhering to the legendary “code of the West” by treating its customers the way that its own people would like to be treated. With an emphasis on exceptional service for clients and investors, the Old West management team knew that it couldn’t spend too much time bogged down in technical details pertaining to digital operations. In the world of finance, one missed or delayed investment opportunity can end up costing companies and their clients millions of dollars. Old West was making use of trading platform Bloomberg Terminal, plus backend applications Moxy and APX, as an enterprise resource planning platform, but the previous MSP’s complex management environment made using these applications difficult. “It’s hard enough to have good performance,” says Boskovich. “It’s kind of silly to lose a client or not get an additional piece of business because a statement’s not getting out on time or you’re not able to access current client data or do something when you need to do it.”
Another issue that Old West ran into with its previous MSP was licensing for seasonal interns. With interns coming in for a short period of time during the summer, the process of getting them licensed and subsequently removing the licensing when they left proved far too arduous. Within the business community, Old West had heard positive word of mouth about RedNight, which specializes in virtual desktop solutions for small to medium businesses. “We showed Old West how this virtual desktop solution called Amazon WorkSpaces could solve all its problems,” says Chris Ploessel, president of RedNight. “The solution has a fixed monthly cost that scales predictably as the company adds users, and all of the backend infrastructure—the licensing, load balancers, software updates, virtual desktop application updates—is handled by AWS.” After a quick demo, Old West decided to deploy Amazon WorkSpaces, and it had the service up and running within 2 weeks.
Old West Achieves Greater Efficiency and Security
Despite the very short timeline for the transition, Old West ultimately found the migration to Amazon WorkSpaces seamless and effective. The migration not only cleared up Old West’s technical quagmire and facilitated greater focus on clients but also afforded key benefits in and of itself. One of the first major technical benefits that the company found using Amazon WorkSpaces was a much more seamless connection with its mission-critical backend applications, including Bloomberg Terminal. This enabled everything to work more efficiently on the technical side of Old West’s operations. Old West didn’t even have to engage AWS; the deployment and user training were handled entirely by RedNight, freeing Old West’s management team to focus on the most important thing: its clientele. “There really hasn’t been any interruption in any part of our business since we started working with RedNight and on Amazon WorkSpaces,” says Boskovich.
One of the key benefits that attracted Old West to AWS in the first place was the outsourcing of technical debt. Instead of having bulky servers and tech infrastructure taking up space in its office setting, Old West now has everything it needs on the cloud. RedNight was also able to outfit the company with Duo, a multifactor authentication service that provides an added level of security. “Since Old West moved into the cloud virtual desktop, we needed to add an extra layer of security and make sure the company was safe and compliant,” says Ploessel.
Following the migration to Amazon WorkSpaces, Old West was able to deploy as many interns as it needed without having to worry about permanently purchasing licensing that would be used for only a short period of time. Old West also found benefits from using Amazon WorkSpaces in conjunction with zero clients—that is, terminals that only connect to Amazon WorkSpaces itself. While running the virtual desktop on zero clients, Old West could spend significantly less money on antivirus updates while maintaining an essential high level of network security. In other words, Amazon WorkSpaces was able to increase security and reduce the burden of technical debt.
The migration to AWS helped Old West address a few other preexisting issues, such as the capacity to work remotely. The company’s chief operating officer, for example, had been forced to work from home around 2 years earlier due to an illness. On the cloud, remote work has become much easier to implement. “I’m still here in the office most days,” says Boskovich, “but the days I’m not here, I can be just as productive, if not more productive. For my two partners who are remote 100 percent of the time and my one partner who’s remote probably 50 percent of the time, the remote work environment enabled by Amazon WorkSpaces is paramount.” This remote work ability became especially pertinent following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Old West can now operate more nimbly and enjoy the security benefits of data that is accessed through screen scrapes rather than travel across a wire. “Old West now has a small footprint in terms of what’s running in the office,” says Ploessel. “If the company were to change or downsize its office space, there wouldn’t be any disruption to its work.” All in all, the entire migration to Amazon WorkSpaces has been seamless, both in the transition itself and in all subsequent technical operations.
Looking to the Future While Focusing on Clients
Having made the migration to Amazon WorkSpaces, Old West and RedNight are looking ahead. “We are now ready for anything that comes down the pipe,” says Ploessel. “We’re agile enough. We can move.” Boskovich sees a lot of further potential for working on AWS, believing that Old West’s collaboration with RedNight can “help us further maximize what we’re able to do as an AWS customer.”
As the world of finance becomes more and more intertwined with the world of tech, financial companies like Old West will need to keep a deep focus on their technical operations to remain competitive. But Old West has already been able to adapt and evolve in essential and efficient ways while avoiding cumbersome technical debt and resource consumption. Thus, with the convenience and peace of mind afforded by AWS, Old West is able to move into the future while keeping its focus on its clients.
About Old West Investment Management
Old West Investment Management is a Los Angeles–based financial services company that focuses on investing in businesses run by management teams with large stock ownership. With management of both long only and long-short investment strategies, Old West primarily focuses on uncovering value opportunities.
Benefits of AWS
- Reduces the burden of technical debt
- Optimizes costs with straightforward licensing fees
- Enables multifactor authentication with Duo
- Connects easily with Bloomberg Terminal
- Enables remote work
- Facilitates easy turnover of interns without permanent licensing
- Increases security
AWS Services Used
Amazon WorkSpaces is a managed, secure Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) solution. You can use Amazon WorkSpaces to provision either Windows or Linux desktops in just a few minutes and quickly scale to provide thousands of desktops to workers across the globe. With Amazon WorkSpaces, your users get a fast, responsive desktop of their choice that they can access anywhere, anytime, from any supported device.
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