Case Study:
Royal London Asset Management

Expert Thinking supporting the go live of the new Royal London Asset Management (RLAM) data platform.

Requirements

Royal London Asset Management (RLAM) required additional subject matter expertise in Azure data platform technologies to be able to meet timescales for the release of their new data platform. The DevOps team wanted to apply the best practises to enable them to manage and refine their Azure and DevOps estate whilst implementing new processes and ways of working.

In addition, they required subject matter expertise in Azure Data Factory (ADF) and Platform Engineering to assist in their transition to modern DevOps. The ADF implementation was key to the platform, had proved troublesome, with consistent failures which were impacting autonomy and confidence in the solution.

Critical success factors:

Stability

Achieve minimal service disruptions and heightened platform reliability through automated deployment processes..

Risk

Reduce the risk of downtime by utilising appropriate PaaS solutions..

Platform Review

Provide a review of the existing infrastructure with relevant recommendations for improvements..

Our solution

Expert Thinking initially delivered a report that recommended prioritised actions to be undertaken on the platform, ranging from ADF to SQL access.

Whilst ADF was the biggest area of the platform that required attention, we recommended changes to App Services and their Zonal deployment to improve the resilience in production as well as allowing fine grained control per application type which protected against bottlenecks in the underlying compute.

    Expert Thinking provided subject matter expertise to RLAM’s solution implementation partner, ensuring that platform design discussions were justified and properly challenged, whilst also acting as the Azure SME for platform recommendations.

    Throughout this, Expert Thinking also undertook a considerable amount of engineering to ensure the design direction was correctly implemented, working closely with all stakeholders, especially around the ADF implementation.

      The benefits

      Reliability – Successfully addressed numerous issues with ADF to establish a stable production platform.

      Release velocity – CICD process modifications relating to ADF incorporated automatic removal of stale resource, reducing a number of challenges for the RLAM teams.

      Process refinement – The support provided by Expert Thinking relating to Terraform, Azure Resource Manager (ARM) and Bicep created a clear understanding of their relative merits regarding DevOps processes and cloud deployments.

      Risk Mitigation – App Services were made zone redundant in production, increasing their resilience and reducing scope for failure.

      Highlights:

      Production deployment

      The solution was delivered to plan, with a platform design that eliminated the ADF issues by splitting operations in new Factory deployments.

      Improved Deployment Quality

      Enhanced Terraform deployment pipelines improved velocity; improved SQL database access control and enhanced ADF integrity through the use of automated deletion of stale resources, rather than the previous manual tasks.

      Enhanced Resilience

      App Service improved through the use of Zone deployments and enhanced network range laid the foundation for future enhancements and scale increases, through spoke reconfiguration and routing.

      Facing challenges with Azure Data Factory and overall platform stability, Expert Thinking provided a comprehensive solution that not only addressed immediate concerns but also laid the foundation for long-term success. Their expertise significantly improved the reliability of our production platform, streamlined operations with Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment, and demonstrated a commitment to excellence in refining DevOps processes. Expert
      Thinking exceeded our expectations, and we highly recommend them for organisations navigating complex data platform and DevOps landscapes.

      Cuong Ung, DevOps Lead, Royal London Asset Management

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