IHS Markit Delivers WSO SaaS Platform Using Amazon AppStream 2.0


IHS Markit is a global provider of information, analytics, and digital solutions for major industries, headquartered in London, UK. Its suite of WSO Software and WSO Services supports investment firms, banks, and other financial institutions. Wanting to improve its service, IHS Markit used Amazon AppStream 2.0 to launch a software-as-a-service (SaaS) version of its WSO suite globally to customers through a web browser without an application rewrite.

Amazon AppStream 2.0 is a fully managed application and desktop streaming service that helps customers securely provision user access to applications and resources they need, anywhere, anytime, and from any supported device. By migrating WSO to Amazon AppStream 2.0, IHS Markit reduced its time to market and gained the ability to scale quickly without procuring or managing application streaming infrastructure.

Members of the IHS Markit team

Using Amazon AppStream 2.0, we can now perform upgrades in near real time during business hours with zero downtime.”

Michael Bland
Head of Cloud Engineering for WSO, IHS Markit

Driving SaaS Transformation Using Amazon AppStream 2.0

IHS Markit’s WSO suite provides tools that help investment managers in the credit markets perform key functions such as compliance monitoring, reporting, and trade settlement. WSO Software includes customer positions, trades, and portfolios and provides multi asset-class credit portfolio administration solutions for investment managers. Customers can install WSO Software locally or outsource the deployment to IHS Markit. “We previously used terminal server farms for our outsourced model,” says Thomas Burgess, head of cloud solutions for WSO. “Multiple users were logged on to a single server, which caused performance issues when we were operating at peak volume.” This approach also made it difficult for IHS Markit to deploy consistent updates and for customers to take advantage of new WSO features.

IHS Markit realized that using a SaaS approach would help alleviate this complexity and streamline the update deployment process. Having used AWS services since 2015, the company engaged the AWS team and evaluated how Amazon AppStream 2.0 could help IHS Markit launch a SaaS model. IHS Markit was attracted to the evergreen model and self-managed scaling of Amazon AppStream 2.0. In 2017, it began to explore the solution using a proof of concept. “We wanted to see whether a streaming application like Amazon AppStream 2.0 would work well to serve content to our users,” says Burgess. “We found that this server model was both cost effective and scalable for the business.” Once IHS Markit proved that it would be able to run WSO on Amazon AppStream 2.0, it began migrating from terminal server farms to a managed service model on AWS.

Streamlining Deployment Using Amazon AppStream 2.0

Using Amazon AppStream 2.0, IHS Markit scaled WSO’s infrastructure without procuring or managing hardware, unlocking key benefits for its customers and business alike. “Administering WSO as a SaaS has streamlined our service,” says Ryan Church, chief technology officer of WSO at IHS Markit. “Our customers are able to use Amazon AppStream 2.0 automation to perform all deployments, validation, and scaling. This automation takes the burden off our customers’ plates and helps them focus their energy on what’s important to their businesses.” By using Amazon AppStream 2.0, IHS Markit has reduced the time it takes to onboard customers to WSO from months to just hours. Because the company no longer needs to procure hardware to support onboarding, it also reduced operating costs.

 IHS Markit can deploy a high volume of new application releases within a short period using Amazon AppStream 2.0, decreasing time per release from 40 hours to just 3 hours. This solution has also improved IHS Markit’s upgrade process. “Using Amazon AppStream 2.0, we can now perform upgrades in near real time during business hours with zero downtime,” says Michael Bland, head of cloud engineering for WSO. “When customers are ready to use our new features, they simply log out of WSO, log back in, and receive updates. This solution hugely improves our release process and helps us perform upgrades with no interruptions to our business or our customers.” By implementing Amazon AppStream 2.0, IHS Markit has reduced its upgrade cycle from 18 months to 3 months, accelerating its speed to market. By November 2021, it had completed 600 releases during that year alone. IHS Markit estimates that it will have over 1,500 releases during 2022.

IHS Markit WSO is able to scale applications and desktops quickly using Amazon AppStream 2.0 to support any number of users around the globe. As a result, the company can facilitate customers’ access to critical applications from any location, including remote areas. “Having the ability to remotely access WSO through a streaming browser has been very powerful for our customers,” says Burgess. “And due to our ability to release code, patches, and new applications quickly, all our customers can access the latest functionality and regulatory updates.”

IHS Markit has used Amazon AppStream 2.0 to federate end user access using single sign-on to provide applications access to its WSO users. The company gave customers Active Directory credentials that it managed on their behalf, separate from their corporate directories. It then used native functionality on Amazon AppStream 2.0 to facilitate secure communications between the system and the customer’s Active Directory identity provider. “We built a pipeline that passes federated Security Assertion Markup Language 2.0 messages to the customer’s identity provider,” says Burgess. “We consume those messages for user authentication. This process removes the burden of us managing Active Directory users and helps our customers self-manage any onboarding processes they may have within their organizations.”

Planning the Way Forward on AWS

Using Amazon AppStream 2.0, IHS Markit has modernized its WSO suite using a SaaS framework, unlocking benefits for scalability, performance, and time to market. The company will continue to migrate client workloads to AWS and plans to further automate its pipelines for faster application releases in 2022. “As we move toward the future, we’re using AWS services to fully modernize,” says Church. “We can really focus our efforts on continuing to break down monolithic systems and becoming more cloud native than ever before.”

About IHS Markit

IHS Markit provides critical information, analytics, and solutions to major industries and markets that drive economies worldwide, including to the financial services industry.

Benefits of AWS

  • Reduced time to deploy new applications from 40 hours to 3 hours
  • Reduced onboarding times from months to hours
  • Facilitates secure single sign-on access
  • Provides access to critical applications from any location
  • Reduced complexity for clients during remote working conditions
  • Reduced upgrade cycles from 18 months to 3 months
  • Migrated without outages affecting clients
  • Upgraded to AppStream 2.0 without interruption to users

AWS Services Used

Amazon AppStream 2.0

Amazon AppStream 2.0 is a fully managed non-persistent desktop and application service for remotely accessing your work. Deliver Software as a Service (SaaS) versions of applications without rewrites, special hardware, or device installs; ideal for training, trials and software demonstrations.

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