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S&P Global Ratings Uses AWS to Speed Application Migration, Drive Innovation

2020

The world’s leading provider of independent credit ratings, S&P Global Ratings has helped people across the globe make better financial decisions for more than 150 years. It provides transparency and education by analyzing investment data from sources such as annual reports, news articles, and management interviews, using the findings to generate credit ratings for credit issuers, intermediaries, and investors in 28 countries.

Historically, the organization used on-premises data centers to host hundreds of critical financial applications in Oracle RAC databases. However, in order to accelerate business growth in global regions, meet new business opportunities, and develop data science capabilities, S&P Global Ratings needed to move 100 percent to the cloud. “We didn’t have any freedom,” says Mark Wang, senior director of the Integration Services Group at S&P Global Ratings. “In the on-premises world, it usually took one month to acquire physical servers and another two weeks to install middleware. That was painful for us in terms of our ability to move quickly as a business.” Because it needs to comply with Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regulatory frameworks for monitoring financial services, the company also sought to improve the stability of its IT environment. “We had an aging data center, with system outages becoming more frequent,” Wang says. “For our business, downtime means we face substantial penalties from the SEC.”

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CustomerReferences_QuoteMark

We have more resilience and stability on AWS, and this will help us avoid SEC penalties due to application downtime…. Being on AWS definitely helps us sleep better at night."

Mark Wang,
Senior Director, Integration Services Group, S&P Global Ratings

Using VMware Cloud on AWS to Streamline a Complex Migration

S&P Global Ratings chose to launch its cloud journey on Amazon Web Services (AWS). “We selected AWS because of the ease of use and global presence,” says Wang. It needed to move quickly, however, to avoid being penalized by its previous data center provider. “We had to go fast, which was a big challenge because we had a huge on-premises footprint, with aging hardware and data gravity issues with Oracle Exadata databases.”

The organization solved the problem by using VMware Cloud on AWS, a service that enables companies to seamlessly migrate their on-premises VMware environments to AWS. Using VMware Cloud on AWS, S&P Global Ratings moved half of its applications, including the ones that financial analysts use to create market ratings for customers, in time to meet a migration deadline of eight months and avoid more than $1 million per month in charges from its previous data center provider. “VMware Cloud on AWS gave us the efficiency we needed to accelerate our migration to AWS,” says Wang. “This was crucial because of the timeline and the complexity of our environment.”

The original schedule for cloud migration was two years, including refactoring applications to run on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2). Following the migration, the organization began running its application and database environment on hundreds of Amazon EC2 instances. Using AWS, S&P Global Ratings created an automation framework to enable easy provisioning of new application environments. Wang says, “We built everything as code and deployed applications on our CI/CD pipelines.”

Spinning Up New Environments in Hours Instead of 30 Days

As it moves to microservices, S&P Global Ratings will be able to meet global market demands much faster than it could in the data center. “We can spin up new application environments in a few hours instead of more than 30 days because of the automation and infrastructure-as-code model enabled by AWS,” says Wang.

With this new agility and speed, the organization can innovate more easily. “Since we moved 100 percent to AWS earlier this year, we have already made improvements in our development velocity. We are enhancing our CI/CD pipeline with continuous testing to improve the quality of our products,” Wang says. “As user stories are being released to QA, a pre-QA environment spins up where all the automated tests are executed and results are captured. After the tests are finished, the pre-QA environment goes away. If the tests pass, then QA will accept the user stories.”

Avoiding Penalties by Ensuring High Availability

S&P Global Ratings has improved application availability by running applications and Oracle database nodes in multiple Regions and Availability Zones, ensuring stability for critical financial applications and eliminating the outages that occurred in the data center. “We have more resilience and stability on AWS, and this will help us avoid SEC penalties due to application downtime. We have seen 100 percent uptime on our regulatory applications since migrating to AWS, and we have improved disaster recovery time by 50 percent,” says Wang. “Being on AWS definitely helps us sleep better at night.”

The organization’s ability to move faster in the cloud is also driving business expansion. “We have a goal to move closer to our global users, and we will achieve that more easily by using AWS,” says Wang. “For example, we’re looking at expanding to Singapore. Instead of spending 6–12 months building a data center there, we can spin up a new virtual private cloud in 5 minutes and start providing services to customers in that region very quickly. As we grow, we’ll be able to expand rapidly and improve application performance by relying on AWS.”


About S&P Global Ratings

S&P Global Ratings provides high-quality market intelligence in the form of credit ratings, research, and thought leadership that help educate market participants so they can make better financial decisions. Founded more than 150 years ago, the company serves customers in 28 countries. S&P Global Ratings is a division of S&P Global, which provides intelligence for individuals, companies, and governments.

Benefits of AWS

  • Seamlessly migrates critical financial applications
  • Creates new infrastructure in hours instead of weeks
  • Experienced 100% uptime for regulatory applications
  • Improved disaster recovery time by 50%
  • Fuels global expansion by launching an environment in minutes instead of spending 6-12 months building a data center

AWS Services Used

Amazon EC2

Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) is a web service that provides secure, resizable compute capacity in the cloud. It is designed to make web-scale cloud computing easier for developers. Amazon EC2’s simple web service interface allows you to obtain and configure capacity with minimal friction. It provides you with complete control of your computing resources and lets you run on Amazon’s proven computing environment.

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VMware Cloud on AWS

VMware and AWS offer organizations a faster, secure path to the cloud. Use your current skills, processes, and governance, saving time and money. With over 2 years of joint engineering, organizations benefit from enhanced VMware functionalities integrated in the solution, and a single point of contact for support and service integration.

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