AWS gives insight and visibility to Danish pension company

Velliv, one of Denmark’s largest pension companies, separated from its parent company, Nordea, in 2018, and took the opportunity to build a completely new, independent IT infrastructure.

The move meant that Velliv was unable to have access to Nordea’s core systems so had to migrate its Java applications, monolithic and .NET applications running on Windows SQL server, file shares, its integration platform, and classical mainframe. Thanks to Amazon Web Services (AWS), however, Velliv was able to "lift and shift" its on-premises IT stack to a 100 per cent cloud environment.

Martin Eggert, applications architect at Velliv, said: “Working with AWS helped us get wiser. When I heard our big monolithic application was going on AWS, I thought that would be a challenge. However, Velliv enterprise architects, with guidance from our AWS Partner Cognisant, demonstrated that migrating to AWS was achievable. We completed the migration in only one year. It’s a great success that we got there in that time.”

The company started by moving familiar applications into the cloud. Peter Hvedstrup, head of IT operations at Velliv said: “The reliability and comfort of seeing something that was recognisable meant we could move out of on premises without having to transform everything. If that hadn’t been possible, we’d still be in Nordea for another 10–15 years at least. We were able to start small, lifting simple applications into similar IT infrastructure, and evolved from there.”

Velliv is part of the Danish financial services industry, a sector in which high standards of compliance and security set by the Danish Financial Authority have to be met. AWS has made this easier for the company, with Hvedstrup saying: “The transparency of the AWS Management Console is very helpful to auditors. We can show them everything we have very quickly. AWS was very forthcoming to help us achieve the necessary security and compliance approvals, and in finalising the documents.”

Another benefit that AWS has provided to Velliv is improved visibility into the cost breakdown of its IT systems: “We can look at our AWS cost breakdown in great detail,” said Hvedstrup. “So we can start using the Swiss Army knife of new services and features because we can see exactly how much things cost.”

Velliv has also gained more insight into what’s going on in its systems through centralised log management using the Elasticsearch, Logstash and Kibana (ELK) stack on AWS. “We know the amount of traffic, types of traffic, and how to scale,” added Eggert. “We simply didn’t have this knowledge before and were totally blind in some areas. This new world, with more insight, has helped us a lot. Nobody wants to go back to the old world in the basement.”

As well as having more insight into its own systems, Velliv is now looking to find areas in which it can explore new capabilities. The team are learning directly from AWS architects about how to create microservices such as Amazon Simple Queue Service (SQS), AWS Lambda, Amazon DynamoDB, and Amazon API Gateway. “If not for AWS, we’d need to get this advice from consultants, which is very expensive,” Eggert said. “So we’re growing our AWS knowledge.”

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