Iress Increases Scalability and Shortens Release Cycles with AWS
Accelerating Automation on the Cloud
Long before fintech became an industry buzzword, Iress started providing software to financial institutions. Established in 1993 in Melbourne, Australia, Iress serves more than 9,000 local and international businesses ranging from Tier 1 banks to single-person advisories. The business, which also has a growing presence in the Asia Pacific region, North America, Africa, the UK, and Europe, has a market capitalization of AUD 2 billion (US$1.4 billion). The company’s unique experience, global network, and ability to configure solutions to client demands have solidified its presence in a competitive industry.
Iress set up its operations using colocation data centers across the globe. In 2018, its leadership redefined its technology strategy, which included enabling software to be operated on the cloud. To maintain its position as a digital pioneer, Iress aimed to take advantage of automation capabilities on the cloud to get features to clients faster and streamline deployment. Feature releases were not fully automated, leading to inconsistencies because Iress was often deploying on a region-by-region and client-by-client basis.
“We were looking at ways to grow revenue and further expand our business without increasing costs. With the efficiency benefits of the cloud, we would be able to further automate processes and manual tasks while eliminating the associated time and costs of managing infrastructure,” says Andrew Walsh, chief executive officer at Iress.
With our financial services software running on AWS, we have built and deployed solution features our team wouldn’t have thought possible in the past.
Improved Security Posture
Walsh and his team chose Amazon Web Services (AWS) as their cloud provider for several reasons. They highlight how AWS offers advanced application services that create opportunities for new use cases and innovation. “We can spend more time thinking about what to do with those tools rather than testing and building them from scratch,” he says.
The team also values AWS security certifications and the provider’s active engagement with financial regulatory bodies, which help them meet evolving compliance guidelines both in and outside of Australia. This gives both Iress and its clients confidence that their infrastructure from AWS is constantly updated to ensure global compliance. The business uses services such as Amazon GuardDuty, AWS Config, and AWS Certificate Manager to automate threat monitoring, enhance security capabilities, and fast-track compliance.
Having less manual intervention in security measures and regulatory compliance not only saves time but has also improved the firm’s security posture because there is less opportunity for oversights or errors. “There are several AWS security services that provide Iress with a global, scalable approach to improving security in our business,” says Andrew Todd, chief technology officer at Iress.
Access to a Variety of Solutions
Iress also appreciates the range of solutions on AWS, which gives it a choice of tooling—whether open source, in-house, or AWS proprietary—to best suit each use case. Todd points to databases as an example. Previously, engineers would default to a single, vendor-provided SQL database for most applications, but now they are seeing more value from distributing targeted workloads to open source alternatives and Amazon Aurora. This has had the dual effect of improving database performance and reducing administrative burden. “As teams are building new services, they have the opportunity to think in completely new ways, evaluating the particular needs for each dataset and what would give the most benefit,” Todd says.
Incremental Approach with DevOps
Rather than a lift and shift, Iress has been reengineering many of its applications toward cloud-native architectures during migration. Along the way, the team has promoted a strong DevOps culture to empower product engineering teams to manage releases from end to end. The company had a separate operations team dispersed across the globe, which resulted in time delays and frequent escalations when specialized support was required. The people in this team now form part of the global product engineering function.
Adopting an approach of smaller incremental releases, rather than large and infrequent ones, has enabled Iress engineers to improve service delivery. “By defining smaller sets of features for a release, engineers’ cognitive processing has improved, and they are delivering higher-quality software,” Todd explains. “The changes that need to happen on the client side are also smaller, so they see less risk when compared to months or years of software change.” As a result, release cycles have decreased from three months to one week or less, so customers can enjoy new product features faster.
Automated Container Deployments and Coding Tasks
By taking advantage of the incremental approach to development, Iress is now working towards no-outage upgrades, which is important to clients who use systems across time zones and during non-standard business hours. Clients are more receptive to the company’s new service offerings and software releases because these no longer interrupt their daily operations.
Additionally, containerizing software with Amazon Elastic Container Service (Amazon ECS) has enabled automated deployments and made them more consistent globally. Engineers also use AWS Lambda to standardize deployment using infrastructure as code and to deliver specific capabilities and services. In some cases, these services might have taken three months to rollout features to clients globally. Now Iress can manage the entire process in just 3 hours.
Todd says, “Activities like building and running containers and the use of infrastructure as code add value because we can work much faster. Now we spend more time solving real business problems. With our financial services software running on AWS, we have built and deployed solution features our team wouldn’t have thought possible in the past, particularly in terms of rapid deployment and change.”
As Iress expands, Walsh looks forward to taking advantage of the increasing number of AWS Availability Zones to introduce more services to its local customers at a reduced latency while complying with data residency requirements. Iress engineers are also creating a data platform as the basis for new data products on AWS to offer clients customized analytics.
Walsh concludes, “Our success is tied to the success of AWS. From the start, we knew that its ways of working, culture, and strong focus on innovation and speed are similar to our own.”
Established in 1993 in Australia, Iress provides software that helps the financial services industry perform better and deliver more. Over 9,000 businesses and 500,000 people across the globe use its software, including banks, insurers, investment managers, brokers, and independent wealth advisors.
- Improves compliance and security monitoring
- Cuts release cycles from 3 months to 1 week
- Lowers time for deploying features globally from 3 months to 3 hours
- Saves time and manual effort with automated deployments
- Promotes DevOps culture with fewer handoffs and escalations
AWS Services Used
Amazon GuardDuty is a threat detection service that continuously monitors for malicious activity and unauthorized behavior to protect your AWS accounts, workloads, and data stored in Amazon S3.
AWS Config is a service that enables you to assess, audit, and evaluate the configurations of your AWS resources.
Amazon Elastic Container Service
Amazon Elastic Container Service (Amazon ECS) is a fully managed container orchestration service. Customers such as Duolingo, Samsung, GE, and Cookpad use ECS to run their most sensitive and mission critical applications because of its security, reliability, and scalability.
AWS Lambda lets you run code without provisioning or managing servers. You pay only for the compute time you consume.
Amazon Aurora is a MySQL and PostgreSQL-compatible relational database built for the cloud, that combines the performance and availability of traditional enterprise databases with the simplicity and cost-effectiveness of open source databases.
Companies of all sizes across all industries are transforming their businesses every day using AWS. Contact our experts and start your own AWS Cloud journey today.