Tech Data helps improve the efficiency and speed of rolling out new software applications for a US based financial clearing house

Today in enterprise organisations, software applications are critical to nearly all the important processes. As companies look to improve their processes in order to gain efficiencies and a competitive advantage, they are constantly developing new software applications or upgrading and adding new features to existing applications. If a software application stops working, an organisation can quickly grind to a halt. To minimise the risk of causing unexpected downtime to a live production environment, it is regarded as best practice for software development and deployment to be undertaken across four different environments. These are development (dev.), testing (qa), user acceptance (uat) and finally production (prod.). The configuration of these four environments can have an enormous impact on the way the software behaves. To be confident that the software will work in a production environment, software developers need a clear understanding of the configuration differences between the four environments. Fortunately, Talos from Tech Data is just the tool for the job. Here’s how Tech Data helped a US based financial clearing house.

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The Challenge

The clearing house has been providing services to promote the stability and certainty of global financial markets for over 40 years, processing trillions of dollars of securities transactions on a daily basis. For many years they had relied upon Rational Automation Framework (RAF) to automate middleware installation, middleware management, middleware operations, and application deployment. However with support for RAF ceasing in September 2016, the customer needed to update their solution.

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Tech Data’s Role

In June 2016, the financial clearing house approached Tech Data to help them move from RAF to Talos. Seen as a natural replacement for RAF, Talos has been developed by Tech Data to be an enterprise strength middleware configuration and automation tool. It integrates with a wide variety of cloud providers and orchestration engines and is intended to automate configuration changes and application deployments across both commercial and open source middleware platforms.

Following a series of initial meetings, where Tech Data were able to successfully demonstrate the Talos functionality, work quickly started on an implementation project. The existing IBM RAF solution was used primarily for migration activity and not for promotion. The customer was keen to use the additional features within Talos. So it was agreed Talos would provide the ability to migrate and promote configurations, apply and rollback fix-packs, plus it would be set up to compare environment configurations.

The Tech Data implementation team and the customer’s technical team were in different time zones. To get around this, Tech Data adopted a US working pattern in order to achieve more crossover as the majority of the work was completed remotely. On a daily basis, screen-sharing and web telephony sessions were used to ensure the work was undertaken in close collaboration with the financial clearing house to take account of their exact requirements.

Using the promotion mode feature, Tech Data worked with the customer on the process of creating new environmental configuration templates. With the ability to create new templates quickly and efficiently, the financial clearing house can reliably compare and identify the required configuration using a very clear graphical interface. For the customer, this meant they can easily detect configuration drift, a major headache for software developers.

Behind the interface, Talos was used to automate the configuration of WebSphere Application Server environments and was heavily customised with Jenkins orchestration. This provided a single-click ability to build, migrate and promote environments, while at the same time, enabling sufficient flexibility to allow configuration to improve over time.

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The Result

Following a successful implementation in September 2016, Talos has improved the time it takes the financial clearing house to push out and manage complex configurations to different environments by up to 400%.

Philip Leaper was Tech Data lead domain architect on the project. Philip said:

Talos was made for just this sort of scenario and it’s not surprising it has been a great solution for the customer. In particular, it means the customer has been able to improve the configuration consistency across their dev., qa, uat and prod. environments. Patching and rollback of any environment is now a single-click activity and the Talos compare function allows them to identify and resolve environmental differences quickly  and easily. The move to Talos has been successful and even after a few months they are seeing a positive payback  in-terms of process and time improvements.”

The financial clearing house no longer have a problem with environmental consistency across dev, qa, uat and prod. Talos provides the customer with a single source of the truth. Using this environmental differences can now be either discarded or included in the template, meaning that over time, the template becomes the master and environmental inconsistencies are eliminated. Ultimately software developers have faster access to more stable environments.

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