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  • Writer's pictureALIF Consulting

Creating a Better Digital Experience for Members

About Alif: Alif empowers Microsoft MSP-CSP partners to provide exceptional IT services to their clients to ensure that the partners reduce their costs and focus on their business. We provide white-labeled managed services for technologies like Microsoft Azure, Microsoft 365, Microsoft Dynamics 365, Microsoft Security, SharePoint, Power Platform, SQL, Azure DevOps, and a lot more. Our headquarter is in Pune, India where we work with over 50 partners across the globe that trust us with their client delivery.


Customer Introduction

Creating a Better Digital Experience

The customer multi-cloud customer has always viewed its main public website, underpinned by on-premises infrastructure including ASP.NET web development environments and on-premises servers, as the virtual front door to its brand. But managing this legacy infrastructure and needing to keep up with manually copying files to servers kept IT teams from more productive work, which could help them better serve current and prospective members. This led the building society to explore automating and improving IT processes and building a multi-cloud customer web platform that would deliver better security, resilience, portability, and visibility.

To address these concerns, Customer moved its main website from on-premises servers to Microsoft Azure, deploying Azure ExpressRoute Direct for on-premises connectivity. Azure Front Door now fronts the website, and the back end is a mix of Azure Red Hat OpenShift, a Kubernetes platform service, and Azure App Service. The entire solution, the society’s first workload on Microsoft Azure, is deployed as infrastructure as code using HashiCorp Terraform.

Always On, Speed & Flexibility

Customer set out to develop a streamlined and statically generated ReactJS web application to deliver its website, allowing it to eliminate moving parts from its runtime and improve website speed, performance, and reliability. Using a full suite of Microsoft Azure products and services, the society was able to seamlessly migrate its existing website to the cloud and build in security and storage from the start with Azure Front Door, Azure Application Gateway, and Azure Blob Storage.

If an outage requires disaster recovery, Customer can use Azure Front Door for automatic failover protection to three global availability zones with zone-redundant storage. With high portability in Azure, the society can quickly generate a new, static copy of its website, deploy it to Azure Blob Storage, and then redirect traffic to other cloud servers to eliminate downtime. This adds a valuable layer of protection out of the box so customer can be confident that its website will always deliver the information that members rely on when they need it

Solution Design

Solution Design
Maximizing Security and Reliability

For maximum security, and in accordance with UK regulatory guidelines, Customer now protects its web environment with Azure Web Application Firewall. It also deployed the Azure DDoS Protection Standard Plan as part of Azure network security, which comes preconfigured to detect network attacks and block cyberthreats before they cause damage with no intervention required. To enhance its monitoring capabilities, it uses Azure Monitor to track trends and detect performance issues it might have otherwise missed.

To keep pace with all of its infrastructural configuration changes, Customer manages all of its deployments with HashiCorp Terraform on Azure.

Given its successes to date, customer continues to frequently evaluate and deploy new Azure products and services, including Azure DevOps, to further streamline the process for making development changes.

End-to-End Ownership

With its main website more stable and secure than ever, Customer is enjoying end-to-end ownership of the web development process, including being able to write and deploy application code, which has created better visibility into how customers are using the website and which lines of business cost more money to run. As it monitors its environments, Customer can use Azure services to easily identify problem areas and improve infrastructure without a lot of effort, while also taking advantage of new monitoring and automation capabilities having to do with security and compliance. 

Deploying changes to application code previously took a minimum of three weeks with multiple hand-offs, and infrastructure changes could take several months. Now, customer can regularly deploy changes across all aspects of its applications and infrastructure every two weeks and respond at much shorter notice if an urgent update is required.

Future Innovation

To extend its transformation benefits, customer took the opportunity to refresh its website from the ground up, rewriting copy, designing cleaner and simpler visuals, and creating a snappier and smoother feel and flow. The website updates perfectly complement the performance benefits of its new, statically generated website running as a single page application using JavaScript APIs with Azure.

Considering where it’s been on its cloud journey and the near-limitless future that lies ahead, Nationwide Building Society says it plans on expanding on the investments it’s already made in Azure infrastructure and exploring new opportunities.

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