Financial Services: a Rackspace OpenStack Private Cloud Use Case

Cloud roundabout

The ways people utilize, manage and spend money has evolved drastically over the past few years. Apple Pay, Google Wallet, Mastercard, PayPass and Visa Checkout are among the many new financial services customers can use to spend and move money.

As these spending methods develop and scale, so must the financial services industry behind them. That’s what led one popular U.S. and UK-based bank to use Rackspace’s private cloud, powered by OpenStack, to help solve its ever-growing integration demand.

Doing so ultimately improved feature delivery to the bank’s customers by almost ten-fold, while dramatically reducing deployment man-hours.

One of the bank’s goals, as part of an overall IT transformation, was to move to an agile development model for all customer-facing applications. As it progressed down this path, however, application changes started to roll out and queue up. It became clear they would only be successful with agile development if they were also able to continuously integrate those application changes and deliver them to the customer quickly. In essence, continuous integration/continuous delivery, or CI/CD, also had to be adopted.

Delivery and platform

The next logical step was to determine what delivery tool to use and which computing platform best fit the bank’s on-premise use case. Since another goal of its IT transformation was to incorporate open source technologies, the bank’s development team looked at Chef and OpenStack. Pairing up those tools was the proposed plan to deliver CI/CD to the software development lifecycle.

RPC stack

The team then needed to decide how to manage this new computing platform.

Its choices were to manage the platform in house, which would require hiring skilled operational engineers, additional support personnel and developing a stable private cloud deployment strategy, or to hire a team of experts who could do all of that for them.

Since they didn’t have the in-house expertise — nor the interest in spending to acquire it — to manage the platform, the team chose Rackspace, which provides all the OpenStack experts necessary to deliver a highly available OpenStack cloud with an uptime SLA attached. By leveraging Rackspace’s private OpenStack cloud, the bank team was able to accelerate the provisioning of development resources by giving developers the ability to spin up virtual machines and move code through the various stages to production.

Rackspace private cloud design

The bank went with Rackspace’s standard OpenStack private cloud reference architecture with the option of adding additional storage through a Swift cluster. The computing resources were broken up into three distinct regions. The first region will incorporate multiple availability zones, one zone to represent each environment (development, quality assurance and staging).

RPC-R stack groups

The two remaining regions will deliver individually pre-production and production resources:

RPC-R pre prod

Outcome

Fast-forwarding through weeks of deployment and setup, the bank’s development teams created “cookbooks” which deliver application sprints (complete application stack) on top of their private cloud. For one of the applications, each sprint build delivery includes the creation of more than 70 instances of different flavor sizes, all dependent on backend software installation and the deployment of the specific customer-facing applications.

The complete build time average was roughly 15-20 minutes end to end. With these cookbooks, the bank team could then traverse the code through the environments, allowing for automation-triggered unit tests, which eventually ended in deployment to production.

As I mentioned earlier, this optimization improved feature delivery to the bank’s customers by almost ten-fold, and reduced deployment man-hours.

Rackspace Private Cloud powered by OpenStack delivered a stable OpenStack platform, including a dedicated cloud architect assigned to the bank’s account, with support and monitoring by experts who live and breathe OpenStack — after all, Rackspace helped develop this open source platform, and remains the standard bearer, operating some of the world’s largest private clouds.

We offer service level and operational level agreements tied to the level of support we provide. That includes a laser-focus attention to detail, quick responses to questions and concerns and the willingness to be flexible with configurations.

All that expertise and support means this financial institution doesn’t have to waste precious resources managing its private cloud; instead it can remain focused on the needs of its business — and its customers’ business.

In our next use case post, we’ll describe how one of the leading retailer brands is using Rackspace Private Cloud to deliver an improved e-commerce experience for its customers.

 

Walter Bentley was a Rackspace Private Cloud Technical Marketing Engineer and author with a diverse background in production systems administration and solutions architecture. He has more than 15 years of experience in sectors such as online marketing, financial, insurance, aviation, the food industry, education and now in technology. In the past, he was typically the requestor, consumer and advisor to companies tin the use of technologies such as OpenStack. Today he’s an OpenStack promoter and cloud educator. Walter helped customers build, design and deploy private clouds built on OpenStack. That includes professional services engagements around operating OpenStack clouds and DevOps engagements creating playbooks/roles with Ansible. He presented and spoke regularly at OpenStack Summits, AnsibleFest and other technology conferences, plus webinars, blog posts and technical reviews. His first book, ‘OpenStack Administration with Ansible’ was released in 2016.

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