NN Investment Partners Improves Scalability and Cuts Costs by 50% Using Amazon RDS for SQL Server
NN Investment Partners, the investment manager of international financial services company Nationale-Nederlanden Group (NN Group), realized early in 2020 that it had a problem with Quartz, its legacy self-managed SQL Server database: it was too vast and needed to be disentangled. Concerned by the system’s inelasticity and exponential rise in cost, the company began exploring alternatives, ultimately turning to Amazon Web Services (AWS).
NN Investment Partners’ chosen solution was Amazon Relational Database Service for SQL Server (Amazon RDS for SQL Server), which is simple to set up and operate and enables users to scale SQL Server deployments in the cloud. As a result of the migration, NN Investment Partners has saved 50 percent on database costs and freed up its engineering teams to focus less on database management and more on innovation.
Using Amazon RDS for SQL Server, I’m no longer worried about the infrastructure and the sizing of data. We can now focus on functionality.”
Innovation Program Lead, NN Investment Partners
Making a Plan to Migrate to AWS
With roots going back 175 years, NN Group is an international financial services company headquartered in the Netherlands. Its 15,000 employees provide retirement services, pensions, insurance, investments, and banking to approximately 18 million customers in Europe and Japan. As NN Investment Partners grew exponentially, its legacy system—Quartz, a vast data science SQL Server database used for day-to-day operation—ballooned in size. The technology team felt the system would not scale to accommodate the pace of business growth.
NN Investment Partners needed to disentangle the database and reduce costs without sacrificing functionality. Because several NN Investment Partners’ professionals had successful experiences in prior initiatives, AWS seemed like the natural choice. After consulting engineers at AWS, the company decided to implement Amazon RDS for SQL Server because of its compatibility with SQL Server and because NN Investment Partners’ central IT team could see a clear path to migration.
AWS Enterprise Support helped the company understand the specifics of the migration. “AWS helped us on many levels,” says Maarten Woolthuis, program lead for NN Investment Partners’ innovation program, “including the sizing and scaling of the new system, understanding the metrics that we had from our old systems, mapping the old system to AWS architecture, and determining how to test the migration.” Considering the size of the database—around 14–15 TB—migrating over a single weekend wasn’t feasible. Guided by AWS Enterprise Support, the NN Investment Partners team developed a strategic migration schedule that took one week. The migration itself involved preloading data in increments during the week, so the team only needed to migrate delta data on the weekend rather than the whole database.
Optimizing Time and Costs in the Cloud
NN Investment Partners quickly saw the benefits of migrating to the managed AWS service. Before the migration, the technology team faced the continual, time-consuming tasks of creating backups and patching the legacy infrastructure. Because it ran applications for dozens of systems throughout the company, job failure was a frequent problem. “One of the biggest benefits of Amazon RDS for SQL Server is that teams don’t have to do the patching work themselves,” says Woolthuis. “Quartz required one team to take care of engineering, one for operations and infrastructure, and one for monitoring. Now, only the engineering team needs to be involved, optimizing time by enabling developers to focus on other initiatives. Using Amazon RDS for SQL Server, I’m no longer worried about the infrastructure and the sizing of data. We can now focus on functionality.”
Another significant benefit of the migration is that NN Investment Partners was able to distribute costs. On the previous system, it would take a week to spin up the clusters necessary for some calculations. Now the company can run a comparable workload in an hour, which enables greater flexibility. Amazon RDS for SQL Server also enables NN Investment Partners’ engineering teams to set up and destroy environments on the same day, which results in cost savings. Furthermore, AWS systems help provide greater security for NN Investment Partners’ clients, increasing their loyalty and confidence. NN Investment Partners expects to see a further decline in the number of people required to manage its systems as the company migrates to the cloud.
Overall, NN Investment Partners achieved a 50 percent cost reduction and greater elasticity after it migrated to Amazon RDS for SQL Server. “We were concerned about costs growing too quickly,” says Woolthuis. “Now we only have half the cost for this database. The data will grow, but the cost will not grow exponentially.”
Looking toward a Future in the Cloud
NN Investment Partners’ positive experience migrating to AWS leads Woolthuis to offer this advice to companies deciding whether to undertake their own cloud initiatives: “I always tell people, just try it. Make sure to end your proof of concept early so that you can fail or succeed quickly. It won’t cost you anything. If it fails, at least you’ve tried it, and you can put it aside—but if it succeeds, you have a world of opportunities to build on.”
In the future, NN Investment Partners hopes to become completely cloud native, starting with migrating its pension portals. The company can now demonstrate cost savings and greater flexibility to its clients’ portfolio managers, analysts, and engineers. “The migration puts us ahead of the competition in providing lower costs and greater flexibility,” says Woolthuis. “We’re in a good position for the future.”
About Nationale-Nederlanden Group
Nationale-Nederlanden Group is a financial services company based in the Netherlands with a presence in 18 additional countries. NN Investment Partners provides retirement services, pensions, insurance, investments, and banking to 18 million customers.
Benefits of AWS
- Reduced database costs by 50%
- Eliminated need for software patching
- Improved time optimization
- Improved elasticity, scalability, and flexibility
- Gained ability to better distribute costs
- Shifted internal focus to functionality
AWS Services Used
Amazon RDS for SQL Server
Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) for SQL Server makes it easy to set up, operate, and scale a relational database in the cloud.
AWS Enterprise Support
AWS Enterprise Support provides you with concierge-like service where the main focus is helping you achieve your outcomes and find success in the cloud.
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