As the engine of the investment sector, focusing on setting clients free to accelerate their success, MMC reap the rewards from migrating their platform to Azure cloud. As a technology-enabled service business, MMC wanted to ensure that their operations would scale alongside their commercial growth. MMC realised that cloud technology would future-proof their business.
“By migrating to Azure cloud, we have established a highly scalable architecture to deliver to our clients’ evolving needs while ensuring stability, security and resilience of our systems.”Vedran Babic, CEO of MMC
Founded in 2001, MMC provide fund administration, fund custody and wealth administration services to investment managers, banks and financial advisers. “As a core infrastructure service provider, MMC are the operational backbone of our clients. We carry out all the behind-the-scenes heavy lifting, setting our clients free to focus on their essential differentiators without worrying about core infrastructure and investment administration,” explains Babic.
MMC credit their success to its people and technology platforms. “Our two proprietary platforms, both developed in-house, run all the core services for our clients. Owning and controlling our technology gives MMC a strong competitive advantage, as we can be more responsive and flexible to clients’ needs. This enables our clients to do things differently by innovating and providing new products, services and experiences to their end investors,” elaborates Babic. “We understand the importance to continually evolve the technology that runs the investment engine smoothly.”
Innovating with cloud
MMC were looking for a scalable and secure infrastructure that would support their current and future growth ambitions. Babic adds, “Migrating to the cloud helps us scale existing and build new capabilities while instilling confidence in our clients because we utilise state-of-the-art Microsoft software tools. System security is paramount to our clients where the hosted data needs to be reliable, secure and accessible. In addition, smart use of data enables us to develop innovative tools and services that leverage powerful insights to facilitate business decisions, while answering a growing need to deliver an additional competitive edge to our clients. Another important aspect is the ability to attract top notch talent. Using the latest technology contributes to MMC being an employer of choice.”
After a thorough review, MMC concluded that leveraging cloud technology would meet their requirements for scalability, security and innovation. As their proprietary platforms were built using the Microsoft technology stack, MMC noted the benefits of leveraging Microsoft technologies further.
A two-phased project
At the end of 2019, MMC acquired Aegis, a wealth administration business from ASB. Aegis’ wealth administration content, which resided in a private data center, was transferred to MMC. As a first step following the acquisition, MMC decided to migrate the entire wealth administration platform to a more secure and scalable Azure environment.
Craig Richardson, MMC’s CIO, reports, “The project had added complexity as, in parallel, we were migrating the technology from ASB to MMC. Despite this, the wealth administration platform, Artios, was transferred to the cloud in less than six months including the operational environment, interfaces and moving to Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD). The move to WVD was quick to deliver and well received, especially from the operational teams, as they gained high performance and speed across daily tasks and activities. They could open documents instantly, as opposed to waiting for them to be transmitted.”
As a second phase, the focus turned to MMC’s fund administration platform, NeXus. The comprehensive environment hosts rich functionality and provides critical infrastructure and operational services to some of the largest and fastest growing investment managers and product providers in New Zealand. Time to delivery was critical.
The project started by moving a few services and virtual machines to the cloud, then gradually setting up its application programming interfaces (APIs). Porting the extensive fund administration environment to the cloud required strong project management skills to ensure a smooth journey without any disruption to clients. The successful transformation was attributed to the collaborative teamwork between MMC and Lancom Technology, MMC’s technical partner.
Despite disruptions caused by COVID-19 with staff working from home, the fund administration transition project was successfully completed earlier than planned. Lancom Technology played an instrumental role in porting MMC’s existing infrastructure to Azure in a single night without any downtime. To complement this shift, MMC also developed a few systems from scratch using the Azure services.
“We developed our own document management system that sat on Blob Storage and used Cosmos database for indexing those documents,” says Richardson. “The solution we developed allows users to filter, search and access extra functionality to what the old system provided,” continues Richardson. Instead of buying and installing a third-party solution, the company made a conscious decision to use cloud-native products that are part of the Microsoft technology stack.
Breaking free from constraints
“Since our move to Azure cloud, we are no longer constrained by the physical world. We are past the sizing limitations — we can quickly reconfigure our servers. Our architecture constitutes a secure and open platform that will cater for growth and innovation while also simplifying system maintenance and upgrades.”Craig Richardson, CIO of MMC
Babic comments, “Residing in the cloud, MMC have the technology capabilities required to cater for our clients’ business growth and to welcome new clients to our community. Our clients will benefit from faster response times and our open architecture facilitates connectivity with the global ecosystem such as Bloomberg, Interactive Data, Refinitiv, DTCC, SWIFT, Calastone, Salesforce, etc. Our clients rely on us daily to support their core business activities. Despite last year’s disruptions, with a mobilised remote workforce in combination with the cloud transitioning projects, we were able to continue to deliver time-critical and essential services to our clients to highest standards.”
Peace of mind with cloud protection
MMC’s appreciation for Azure increased when an incident shook a major New Zealand financial institution last year. Richardson adds, “Knowing the level of protection we would have by residing in Azure cloud, we moved our migration forward a couple of weeks. This gave us huge peace of mind. We were grateful for having made an investment in Azure, having worked on the project for the previous two years, and then being able to move so quickly.” Likewise, the COVID-19 pandemic brought MMC’s digital investment to bear. “We have been able to increase our levels of productivity and communication due to the use of the Microsoft 365 suite and Microsoft Teams,” reveals Babic.
“We have successfully run virtual roadshows and workshops. Our team have embraced the Microsoft 365 suite completely and we use it to our full advantage, keeping internal connections alive during remote working,” continues Babic.
For MMC, the long-term goal of moving to Azure was about setting the business up for the future — being able to scale, modify and use the new features across the platform. “After moving to Azure, we improved our ability to scale up at a moment’s notice and see performance levels increase,” says Babic. Moving forward, MMC will continue harnessing latest technology which includes leveraging Platform as a Service (PaaS) and be completely serverless. MMC are also building capabilities around data analytics — providing insights to investors and clients, leading to the success of all parties.
“Residing in the cloud, MMC have the technology capabilities required to cater for our clients’ business growth and to welcome new clients to our community.”Vedran Babic, CEO of MMC
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