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Fulcrum Asset Management - Well Architected on AWS

Fulcrum Asset Management are an independent asset management firm based in London, UK. Technology is an important part of their investment process, so in 2021 they decided to migrate away from their on-premises infrastructure and began to rebuild their applications on AWS for better reliability and improved scale. 

The project

Using their in-house skills, Fulcrum didn’t just lift-and-shift their applications; they rebuilt their Financial Models application on AWS, making use of native services like Elastic Container Service (ECS) and serverless solutions like AWS Fargate. Fulcrum’s application runs a Quant fund, which is a data-driven, algorithmic investment strategy. 

Fulcrum engaged Cloudsoft for a Well Architected Framework Review to ensure they were following cloud best practices and for advice on operations, security and cost optimisation improvements. 

We were new to building on AWS, so to have Cloudsoft’s guidance and expertise was invaluable. The Well Architected Framework Review has not only shown us where our current application can be improved, but has also shown us best practices for developing further applications on AWS.

- Adam Peddle, Fulcrum Asset Management

Well Architected Framework Review

As an AWS Well Architected Partner, Cloudsoft are trusted by AWS to review workloads and applications built on AWS against 6 core pillars of best practice:

  1. Operational Excellence
  2. Security
  3. Reliability
  4. Performance Efficiency
  5. Cost Optimisation
  6. Sustainability

Cloudsoft assessed Fulcrum’s application against these pillars and made recommendations for remediation. 

Whilst Fulcrum had made good use of AWS native services to build a secure and reliable application, Cloudsoft were able to identify areas for improvement and right-fit managed services from AWS’ extensive catalogue.

Improved security

Fulcrum’s app is mostly private, and therefore has a limited attack surface. However AWS’ Shared Responsibility model, in which they are responsible for the security of the cloud and users are responsible for security in the cloud, means it is advisable to have an AWS expert assess the security of your applications.  

In Fulcrum’s case Cloudsoft were able to identify opportunities to improve security and implement best practices such as user and role based policies, permissions and authentication. Cloudsoft also advised on additional managed services to deploy to improve user and application activity tracking (eg AWS CloudTrail and AWS Config) and threat detection and alerting with AWS GuardDuty.

Operational excellence

The focus of this pillar is on ensuring systems are delivering the desired business value and that supporting processes are established and continuously improved. Whilst Fulcrum had made good use of AWS Managed Workloads for Apache Airflow, enabling them to more easily operate data pipelines in the cloud,  Cloudsoft were able to make recommendations to:

  • improve monitoring and alerting, such as using AWS CloudWatch. 
  • make better use of automated deployment, such as AWS CodeDeploy.
  • capture processes in runbooks and playbooks so the team can use standardised approaches to development and incident resolution. 

Cost optimisation

One of the benefits of cloud is it’s pay-as-you-grow model. Services can be developed, spun up and scaled quickly and cheaply using AWS resources rather than on-prem datacenters. However, when not monitored and optimised, cloud costs can spiral so Cloudsoft made recommendations to Fulcrum which would help them to embed cost optimisation best practices as they grow their use of AWS and avoid bill shock along the way. 

In addition to enabling the AWS Cost and Usage Report, which would help Fulcrum to understand their spend and avoid wasted spend, we recommended they enable AWS Cost Anomaly Detection, so any unexplained spikes in the bill could be identified and resolved, and look into AWS Savings Plans, where they can commit to spend over one or three years and save up to 72% over on-demand pricing. 

The outcome

Fulcrum now have the confidence that their Financial Models application is built to best-in-class standards and a guide for making further improvements as they develop their usage of AWS. Cloudsoft were also able to assist Fulcrum with applying for credits from AWS to fund remediation work.

We’ve had a lot of value from our Well Architected Review and feel confident that Cloudsoft have given us the knowledge to be really Well Architected. We look forward to working with them again in the future.

- Adam Peddle, Fulcrum Asset Management

Want to learn more about being Really Well Architected?

Cloudsoft are an AWS Advanced Consulting Partner with Well-Architected Partner program status, alongside a number of other competencies. 

We work with clients to review their AWS workloads, inform about best practices and deliver remediations to improve the security, reliability, cost efficiency and sustainability of their AWS environments. AWS Badge - new Feb 2022

Download the flyer to learn more about being Really Well Architected on AWS.


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