Octopus Investments: Azure Migration Case Study

Octopus Investments (part of the Octopus Group) is an innovative and rapidly expanding financial services company with offices based in the UK and Australia.

After nearly two decades of success, they reached a critical juncture in their business journey: their current data centre architecture was no longer suitable for their ambitious strategic objectives. They needed to move to cloud-based infrastructure to support their growth, agility, and changing compliance needs.

In this case study, we’ll explore how Atech’s experienced Professional Services team joined forces with Octopus Investments to navigate their complex migration to Azure.

Discover how our meticulous planning and execution helped Octopus Investments smoothly rehost their Windows Servers and SQL databases to Azure; optimising IT costs and future-proofing their infrastructure for the next generation of financial services innovation.

Company Background

Since its establishment in 2000, and now with a team of over 750 employees, Octopus Investments has become a significant player in the UK financial services industry.

However, its vast and ageing on-premises infrastructure hindered the company’s ability to respond to changing market conditions and client demand. By rehosting its servers on Azure, Octopus Investments would gain the ability to rapidly scale their IT architecture to accommodate the businesses’ aggressive growth plans, as they would no longer be constrained by their on-premises infrastructure.

Having previously worked with Atech on a number of Microsoft ecosystem projects, Octopus Investments naturally chose us to help with their transition to the cloud.

The Challenge

The Azure migration project involved two key scenarios: rehost Windows servers on Azure and rehost SQL on Azure.

Atech were tasked with rehosting 110 servers, 91 of which were Windows Servers and the rest Linux. Of the 91 Windows Servers, 14 were SQL servers, and four of those SQL servers were part of AlwaysOn Availability Groups.

Octopus Investments also needed a secure and scalable Azure Landing Zone, aligned with the Cloud Adoption Framework, to support their future business growth. In addition, they urgently needed to migrate all VMware machines in their data centres before their contract expired in November 2022.

Ultimately, the CIO had planned a wider connectivity modernisation programme to replace or decommission many business-critical links. The driving force behind Octopus Investments’ digital transformation was to steer clear of data centre contract renewals and instead embrace a new era of modernised cloud infrastructure, allowing them to continue their aggressive growth curve and satisfy new customer demand.

The Solution

Octopus Investments’ well-structured and carefully managed Azure migration journey, with Atech, took around nine months to complete and incorporated the following key milestones:

1. Assess

Firstly, we deployed Azure Migrate to assess server dependencies thoroughly. This tool was pivotal in helping us create a complete inventory of all on-premises machines, assess their cloud readiness and mitigate any potential issues.

This assessment carefully considered Octopus Investments’ data residency requirements, which stipulated that all data must remain in the UK throughout the migration process. The evaluation also identified the estimated Azure running costs, providing valuable insights for optimising business expenditures.

2. Design

With the assessment phase complete, we developed a detailed plan to tackle two primary challenges in the Azure migration project:

  • Designing and deploying the complex networking requirements for the Azure Landing Zone.
  • Migrating the four SQL servers within the two separate AlwaysOn Availability Groups.

 

Our top objective during the migration was to minimise disruption to users which we accomplished through thoroughly understanding each workload and its dependencies, then assessing the impact in migrating each server. Business continuity was key to design into the solution which we achieved by leveraging Availability Zones. Additionally, we deployed across two Azure regions, replicating machines and data, and creating a failover mechanism that strengthened the resilience of the infrastructure, ensuring uninterrupted services – even in the event of unexpected issues.

Over several in-depth workshops with the client, we were able to tailor the Azure Landing Zone to Octopus Investments’ specific requirements while ensuring that the architecture plans adhered to Microsoft’s best practices.

3. Deploy

Migrating over 100 servers with highly complex dependencies is a complex task, so it took approximately six months to complete as part of a staged plan Atech had developed alongside Octopus. We replicated the four servers in the AlwaysOn Availability Group and performed thorough sandbox testing prior to cutover.

Furthermore, we encrypted all sensitive financial data at rest and in transit, implemented guardrails using Azure Policy, and a separate UK-based data centre to address disaster recovery protocols. This enabled failover protections and service restoration in the event of primary region failure.

4. Handover

The migration to Azure concluded with a comprehensive handover process, which included documentation and training to help support Octopus Investments’ IT teams in managing their new Azure environment. We also offered post-migration performance optimisation as part of our managed service package.

Through collaboration with Octopus, Atech devised three key strategies to help the company manage its costs, including:

  • Leveraging reserved instances over one to three years.
  • Applying Azure Hybrid Benefit by reusing Windows Service licences to limit expenditure.
  • Implementing ‘stop-start’ practices, where less critical machines are powered down during non-business hours.

 

The Results

Thanks to our meticulous planning and technical expertise, the Atech team successfully migrated Octopus Investments’ servers without disrupting users or business operations. We optimised costs and solidified our reputation as a safe pair of hands.

In the months following this Azure migration, we worked with other teams in Octopus’ IT department and expanded the Azure Landing Zone in preparation to accommodate many other services.

“Atech allows us to focus on our bigger IT issues and strategy, rather than getting tangled up in, and frustrated by, the day-to-day problem of solving user needs and issues.” – Tcha Willson, Chief Information Officer, Octopus Investments.

Trust Atech as your Azure Expert MSP Partner

Atech can guide you to a successful Azure migration, helping you achieve your digital transformation goals with a tried-and-tested methodology that aligns with your unique business needs and ensures maximum productivity at all times.

We hold several Microsoft Advanced Specialization certificates and can help you optimise the performance metrics of your new cloud infrastructure, even after the migration journey is complete.

To learn more and get a free Azure migration consultation, get in touch with one of our expert team now.

How can we help?

 
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