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Reducing Operational Overhead and Technical Debt Using AWS Fargate with Old Mutual

Learn how Old Mutual in financial services reduced technical debt and time to market using Amazon ECS on AWS Fargate.


the need for 2–4-week-long version updates


technical debt

Redirected engineers

from maintenance tasks to deliver value to customers

Less than 1 week

onboarding time for new teams and engineers


the skills deficit


When financial services provider Old Mutual Limited (Old Mutual) began its all-in migration to Amazon Web Services (AWS) in 2019, it kicked off an ongoing digital transformation. As part of its strategy, one of the company’s departments needed a container orchestration solution that would be manageable for teams across the organization. “We’re on a journey to reduce our technical debt by simplifying our architecture, automating tasks, and reducing operational overhead,” says Kershnee Ballack, IT executive at Old Mutual.

The Old Mutual team chose to migrate to Amazon Elastic Container Service (Amazon ECS)—a fully managed container orchestration service—and to run its containers on AWS Fargate, a serverless, pay-as-you-go compute engine. These services were simple for its engineers to implement, and since migrating to this architecture, Old Mutual has reduced technical debt and improved cost efficiency and disaster recovery, all while delivering services more quickly to customers.

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Opportunity | Using Amazon ECS to Simplify Container Management for Old Mutual

Old Mutual, founded in 1845, is a pan-African financial services group that offers financial solutions to customers across 14 countries. Within Old Mutual, the IT department provides the technological capabilities that the organization uses to offer digital services and personalized engagement between financial advisors and customers.

Old Mutual is accelerating its digital transformation by moving toward a multi-account strategy where each team is responsible for its own AWS account. It aims to empower engineers to move faster by giving them direct access to the resources they need. In this strategy, each team needs the skills to manage its own environment, so the company wanted to use serverless and managed services that would reduce undifferentiated heavy lifting.

Old Mutual chose to migrate to Amazon ECS on AWS Fargate. Previously, it used a Kubernetes-based solution, and while that solution had many options to customize its container management, the company prioritized choosing a service that wouldn’t need as much management or advanced Kubernetes skill sets. “We had to migrate at speed, and we wanted a solution with less maintenance overhead, which led us to using Amazon ECS on AWS Fargate,” says Phiwayinkosi Gazu, Head of Cloud Platform Engineering: Data & Analytics at Old Mutual. “This choice proved to be the right one, and our engineers were able to get going really fast.”


Using Amazon ECS and AWS Fargate made it simple for us to get up and running without the huge learning curve that engineers would have had with other solutions.”

Phiwayinkosi Gazu
Head of Cloud Platform Engineering: Data & Analytics, Old Mutual

Solution | Removing the Need for Weeks-Long Version Updates and Reducing Technical Debt

When traffic arrives at Old Mutual’s load balancers, a build agent in Amazon ECS spins up a container on AWS Fargate using the defined roles and scaling specifications. “In Amazon ECS, most of the things are done for you,” says Gazu. “All we do is provision the cluster, define the tasks, and specify that it has to run on AWS Fargate. Then, we’ve got our services up and running.”

Because the solution is serverless, Old Mutual no longer pays for idle servers or spends time rightsizing instances. Also, because it uses a distributed model with multiple clusters, Old Mutual’s new architecture has better availability and disaster recovery times.

The solution has been live in production since the end of 2022. The first team migrated workloads to Amazon ECS on AWS Fargate in 2 months. Since then, Old Mutual has created reusable scripts and can now onboard teams into Amazon ECS in under 1 week.

Using Amazon ECS resolved a skills issue for Old Mutual. With its previous solution, the company had to hire more engineers with years of experience in container orchestration and tooling. On Amazon ECS, Old Mutual can hire new engineers without these advanced skill sets and grow while keeping teams lean and agile. “The size of a team is less than half of what it needed to be before due to us no longer having to do all of these infrastructure-heavy pieces,” says Ballack.

Old Mutual held AWS Immersion Days, facilitated by AWS, for engineers to do practical trial and error in Amazon ECS. Engineers at the company are able to pick up the new service within a week. “Using Amazon ECS and AWS Fargate made it simple for us to get up and running without the huge learning curve that engineers would have had with other solutions,” says Gazu. “It’s very quick to get on these services and start running something in production.”

Old Mutual also reduced its technical debt and moved away from server management. In its previous solution, the company had to regularly run version updates, which took 2–4 weeks and kept engineers from working on other projects. The team also had to maintain and scale nodes and servers. “We had to upgrade to the latest version of the service regularly, which could take a whole month to do from development to production,” says Gazu. “Now, we’ve reduced that to zero days: we no longer have to do any version updates in the service whatsoever.” Now, its architecture is running on managed and serverless services, which the team doesn’t have to maintain or update, and it reduced the technical debt that was building up in its previous service. By spending less time on maintenance, Old Mutual can deploy new services to customers faster, improving the overall customer experience.

Outcome | Equipping Engineers to Deliver High-Quality Solutions

Old Mutual aims to continue using cutting-edge technology to serve its customers. Part of its strategy is encouraging its employees to earn AWS Certification, which validates technical skills and cloud expertise. Several of Old Mutual’s IT employees have become AWS Certified Cloud Practitioners, with an average of 10 AWS Certifications in each team. Old Mutual is also working toward a FinOps strategy, where each team shares responsibility to optimize costs.

The migration to Amazon ECS has boosted Old Mutual’s ability to quickly deliver services to customers. “Our engineers can move a lot faster and can focus on the layers above the infrastructure,” says Ballack. “That capability speeds up how quickly we can put things in the hands of our customers.”

About Old Mutual Limited

Established in 1845, Old Mutual Limited is a pan-African financial services company that serves customers in 14 countries in Africa and Asia. Its mission is to help customers achieve their financial goals while investing in a positive future.

AWS Services Used

Amazon ECS

Amazon Elastic Container Service (ECS) is a fully managed container orchestration service that helps you to more efficiently deploy, manage, and scale containerized applications.

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AWS Fargate

AWS Fargate is a serverless, pay-as-you-go compute engine that lets you focus on building applications without managing servers.

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AWS Certification

You can benefit from a wide range of expert insights, resources, and programs as you progress toward achieving AWS Certification. Whether you’re just starting out or adding another certification, AWS can help you effectively validate your cloud expertise.

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