How Best Practices Helped RobustWealth’s Technology Team During the Covid-19 Pandemic

Covid19 has been a challenge for individuals, families, and many companies and businesses across the globe. Everything from the local barbershop to restaurants and malls has been affected. Here in the U.S., many states essentially “shut down” to try to contain the virus and maintain social distancing. The impact, however, seems to be less for some industries like e-commerce and financial technology (FinTech) companies.

On Friday, March 13, Principal Financial Group, RobustWealth’s parent company, instructed employees to work from home starting Monday, March 16. Although working from home is not new to most of our employees, it was the first time everyone at RobustWealth was required to work from home.

Yara Maalainine works on the IT team. It took Yara and his team half a day to get everyone up and running successfully with almost all the tools they needed. The team provided additional monitors and accessories to the staff to ensure they had a seamless experience working from home. It was a scramble, but they are used to being nimble.

Collaboration and productivity tools such as Slack, Zoom, and Confluence, which RobustWealth uses daily, have helped our company thrive in transitioning to work from home. They also enabled our team to seamlessly meet clients’ needs. 

Fortunately, we’re always planning, evaluating, and testing our business continuity plan at RobustWealth, which is why having a robust cloud infrastructure is critical to the business. 

RobustWealth started its cloud journey at its founding in 2015. Amazon Web Services (AWS) ticked all the boxes we needed such as scalability, cost, resilience, and ability to meet our compliance needs i.e. NIST, the National Institute of Standards, and Technology, which sets cybersecurity standards and best practices. We leveraged all AWS products available at the time such as Route 53, Simple Storage Service (S3), Amazon Elastic Computer Cloud (EC2), and Amazon Relational Database (RDS) at the time. Today, we are using more than 50 services.

Multiple Account Architecture—better security and scalability

Originally our crown jewels, which include our enterprise, advisor, client, and trading platforms, ran on a single AWS account. As the company and teams grew, this solution was not feasible anymore because of its scaling and security challenges. Our goal is to be best in class, so in 2018, we moved to multi-account architecture (shown below).

In our opinion, the new architecture provided us with the highest level of resource and security isolation available. It helped us automate the onboarding and offboarding of all user accounts and ensuring that all access ran through multi-factor access, which provides a higher level of security.

The new architecture made it seamless for our engineers to switch between accounts without the need to login on/off each time, which they found to be very valuable.

Serverless Microservice Architecture—more computing power and scalability

In 2019, our microservice team transitioned off internal servers to AWS Fargate, a serverless, compute engine for containers. Moving to Fargate allowed the team to allocate the right amount of computer power, eliminating the need to choose instances and scale cluster capacity manually, and saving on costs especially when the platform was not heavily used.

The transition was fruitful, especially in today’s volatile market due to COVID-19.   In mid-March, we saw our biggest trading week volume ever, and it allowed our trading team to process and rebalance without any major issues.

Early adoption of Infrastructure as Code (IaC) & DevOps paid off

Modern infrastructure is increasingly networked, distributed, and ever-changing. AWS CloudFormation and tools such as CircleCI have helped us overcome the challenges of Infrastructure Management. We have automated all continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery (CD) using Infrastructure as Code (IaC) which allowed us to quickly build, deploy, and manage our cloud resource. It has also streamlined the process of moving an idea from proof of concept through the pipeline faster. Now, it only takes us minutes to deploy architecture changes across accounts thanks to our early adoption of IaC.

Security

From day one, security has been a critical part of our infrastructure. We leverage most, if not all, of AWS security tools such as Identify Access Management (IAM), Web Application Firewall (WAF), AWS Shield to name a few. These services allow us to meet our security requirements and compliance needs. We also use a variety of applications that provide a dashboard for monitoring our ecosystem for traffic, errors, and speed.

At RobustWealth, we continuously strive to maintain best practices to prepare for increased demands on the system caused by pandemics, disasters, and other disruptions.  We are proud to be able to offer advisors and their clients remote, secure access to a stable environment during these extraordinary times. We believe it empowers advisors to continue to focus on what’s important, which is servicing their clients.

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