CASE STUDY

Re-engineering CFRA Equity Publishing Platform Reduces Costs by 90%

Executive Summary

CFRA Research partnered with Risk Focus after it inherited three expensive databases and a datacenter via a business acquisition. Risk Focus re-engineered CFRA’s entire system on AWS and migrated its databases to Amazon Aurora. By implementing a true DevOps approach to application development, Risk Focus delivered a full re-architecture that increased resilience and significantly reduced CFRA’s cost structure while improving agility and security.

Risk Focus understood our business needs and had the right technical and domain expertise to design and execute a modern, scalable architecture that allowed us to innovate rapidly.
Eram Schlegel
CTO
CFRA Research

About CFRA Research

CFRA Research is one of the best-known financial research companies, providing independent and actionable research and analytics to improve its clients’ investment and business decisions. It offers global coverage of individual stocks, ETFs, and mutual funds to its retail and institutional clients. It creates research and analytics tools used by assets managers for forensics, wealth management, and other financial institutions. In 2016, CFRA acquired S&P Globals’ Equity and Fund Research business, including its core technology product delivery systems.

The Challenge

  • CFRA wanted to re-engineer their systems to consolidate infrastructure and improve processes but needed a catalyst. The tipping point came when the company needed to integrate new data sources into its research and estimated the costs of doing so on top of their existing infrastructure.
  • The current system architecture used AWS as a replacement for a traditional data center, which meant CFRA wasn’t taking advantage of the tools, security features, or scaling abilities that come with cloud services. In addition, the architecture didn’t offer APIs that clients could integrate into their own third-party dashboards and applications. Lastly, the development process made getting new products to production expensive, tedious, and slow.
  • Like most revenue-generating systems, CFRA could not shut down its system or jeopardize its current customer experience in order to make changes.

The Solution

Risk Focus worked with CFRA to help rationalize the company’s entire architecture and software stack leveraging AWS-native services, including AWS Glue for the ETL service, AWS Lambda for most processing tasks, and AWS API Gateway and Amazon Cognito for both internal and client-facing APIs. Combined with the migration of Oracle workloads to Amazon Aurora, CFRA was able to reduce its data and software costs by over 90% on average.

Risk Focus worked as a true partner to our organization and helped us to build out our teams, processes, and IT infrastructure. By migrating on-premise workloads to Amazon Aurora, Risk Focus helped us consolidate our footprint dramatically, improve our scaling, and lower our costs. We’re far more efficient with AWS.
Eram Schlegel
CTO
CFRA Research

Results and Benefits

By partnering with Risk Focus and moving its Oracle workloads to Amazon Aurora, CFRA was able to go live within a very compressed timeframe, with a new architecture and software stack that reduced its licensing and infrastructure costs while connecting seamlessly with other AWS products, enhance the value for customers.

Save the opportunity cost of running on-premises infrastructure.

According to Schlegel, “Anything that’s managed for us gives us immediate cost savings on several levels, including the opportunity cost of serving customers. If we’re spending time doing maintenance instead of innovating, that’s going to cost us in the long run. And from the perspective of performing infrastructure or database updates, anytime that we’re down when customers need us costs us money.”

Gain functionality through built-in features and the AWS ecosystem.

Helping CFRA migrate to AWS wasn’t just about saving on infrastructure costs. It opened CFRA to the entire AWS ecosystem of services and features, including AWS Glue, AWS Lambda, and AWS Elastic Beanstalk, which Risk Focus leveraged to increase the scalability of the firms’ services and to add enhanced functionality. For example, moving to Amazon Aurora provided built-in redundancy that is crucial to CFRA’s business. “We need enough redundancy to make sure things don’t go bad, but that can be a very expensive proposition because it requires people managing infrastructure,” said Schlegel. “With the fully managed services of Amazon Aurora, redundancy was just a matter of turning it on. Now our people can focus on creating revenue-generating products instead of keeping on the lights.”

Reconfigure the software-delivery process to embrace DevOps.

The new architecture, designed and implemented by Risk Focus, also included new tolling and processes that support a fast, automated, predictable software-delivery lifecycle. CFRA can now grow its analysis-and-distribution platform with increased agility and improved predictability. Production release times have accelerated from quarterly to daily. “Amazon Aurora can be serverless, which means we are not paying for it when developers are not using it,” explained Schlegel. “These systems typically cost tens of thousands of dollars a month, which becomes untenable with multiple developers. Now we have true, on-demand environments that are identical to our production environments whenever we need them—without breaking the bank. It allows us to run multiple, parallel production processes.”

Technologies

Amazon Aurora is a MySQL and PostgreSQL-compatible relational database built for the cloud. It combines the performance and availability of traditional enterprise databases with the simplicity and cost-effectiveness of open-source databases. Amazon Aurora is up to five times faster than standard MySQL databases and three times faster than standard PostgreSQL databases. It provides the security availability and reliability of commercial databases at 1/10th the cost.

Learn More

Risk Focus is a consultancy solving capital-markets business problems with technology and insight. We combine business domain knowledge, technology expertise, and a disciplined process to ensure the success of the most challenging projects in the industry. Many of the largest exchanges and investment banks operate on systems built by Risk Focus teams. Our practices include Custom Application Development, Regulatory Reporting & Compliance, DevOps & Cloud, Streaming Architectures, and IT Strategy. We’re a Premier Confluent Systems Integrator and an AWS Advanced Consulting Partner with Financial Services, Migration, and DevOps Competencies. Clients count on us to provide outcomes that advance their objectives on time and on budget.

RE-ENGINEERING CFRA EQUITY PUBLISHING PLATFORM REDUCES COSTS BY 90%