Industry use case on Azure Kubernetes Service
What is Azure Kubernetes Service?
Microsoft Azure is a world-renown cloud platform for SMBs to large scale business, while Kubernetes is a modern-day approach that is rapidly becoming the regular methodology to manage cloud-native applications in a production environment. Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) has brought both solutions together that allow customers to create fully-managed Kubernetes clusters quickly and easily.
AKS is an open-source fully managed container orchestration service that became available in June 2018 and is available on the Microsoft Azure public cloud that can be used to deploy, scale and manage Docker containers and container-based applications in a cluster environment.
Azure Kubernetes Service offers provisioning, scaling, and upgrades of resources as per requirement or demand without any downtime in the Kubernetes cluster and the best thing about AKS is that you don’t require deep knowledge and expertise in container orchestration to manage AKS.
AKS is certainly an ideal platform for developers to develop their modern applications using Kubernetes on the Azure architecture where Azure Container Instances are the pretty right choice to deploy containers on the public cloud. The Azure Container Instances help in reducing the stress on developers to deploy and run their applications on Kubernetes architecture.
Common uses for Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS)
Migrate your existing application to the cloud, build a complex application that uses machine learning or take advantage of the agility offered by a microservices architecture.
Easily migrate existing application to container(s) and run within the Azure managed Kubernetes service (AKS).
Use AKS to simplify the deployment and management of microservices based architecture. AKS streamlines horizontal scaling, self-healing, load balancing, secret management.
DevOps and Kubernetes are better together. Implementing secure DevOps together with Kubernetes on Azure, you can achieve the balance between speed and security and deliver code faster at scale.
Use the AKS virtual node to provision pods inside ACI that start in seconds. This enables AKS to run with just enough capacity for your average workload
This reference architecture shows a recommended architecture for IoT applications on Azure using PaaS (platform-as-a-service) components.
Training of models using large datasets is a complex and resource intensive task. Use familiar tools such as TensorFlow and Kubeflow to simplify training of Machine Learning models.
Use AKS to easily ingest & process a real-time data stream with millions of data points collected via sensors. Perform fast analysis and computations to develop insights into complex scenarios quickly.
Finastra: Case Study
With offices in over 60 countries, 10,000 staff and revenue exceeding $2 billion, Finastra is a significant Fintech force. Already an established leader in financial software and cloud solutions, its first platform offering, FusionFabric.cloud, launched to public cloud in June 2018.
FusionFabric.cloud is Finastra’s ground-breaking Platform as a Service (PaaS) development ecosystem that is revolutionizing the future of banking. Banks, financial technology (fintech) providers, independent developers and Universities are leveraging its collaborative, open source environment to author innovative new applications for retail and corporate banking, payment processing, lending, treasury and capital markets. The result is banks and financial services institutions can quickly implement new product innovations on top of existing systems, in a secure environment, at significantly reduced operating costs.
Creating a development ecosystem
With fintech gaining momentum, Finastra seized the opportunity to champion collaboration and opened its core systems to third party development. Félix Grévy, Global Head of Product Management at FusionFabric.cloud explains, “Our goal was to create an ecosystem of development partners to deliver applications quickly and at low cost. At the same time, our customers would be able to leverage fintech innovation in our familiar and stable workflow environment.”
Fast and secure cloud native environment
Finastra’s early commitment to build in a cloud-native environment opened a host of API opportunities. Azure was the preferred cloud solution for four main reasons: its API management security features, its technical capabilities, its support of open source technologies and crucially, its inbuilt global regulatory and data residency compliance.
Azure Active Directory provides world-class authentication and security. This allows Finastra to manage users and single sign-on across all applications. Active Directory is widely used in banks, feeds into Federated Identity Management protocol and supports OAuth 2.0. “Our integration with Active Directory is highly attractive to our banking and financial clients,” confirms Grévy.
And the platform is fast. Azure provides the latest CPU processors to run its ‘financial model builder’ algorithmic calculations, and results show a ten-fold increase in speed for customers leveraging V100 GPUs to calculate a portfolio of 30 years swaps. It’s a win all round.
Open source solution
Azure utilizes comprehensive techniques to manage hybrid connectivity for the large volume of banking clients that still run data on-premise. Azure ExpressRoute provides a direct, secure link between banks and the cloud. This adds value to the FusionFabric.cloud platform, as Grévy explains, “Banks can run their core system on-premise, while still managing marketplace applications on the cloud. We are facilitating their controlled exposure to the cloud, and that’s exciting.”
Streamlined API management
Azure’s API integration allows for an end-to-end solution between the banking environment, fintech partners and the platform. Extensive API analytic features give Finastra intricate insight into their platform portfolio: “For example,” explains Grévy, “we are able to see which APIs are getting the most use, and which ones aren’t. We use this information to understand current trends on a very granular level. We share findings with our API partners to help them maximize success and optimize their application delivery journey.”
Working with such a large portfolio of partners and customers requires a complete delivery integration pipeline. This allows the team to publish, upgrade, maintain and deploy APIs in a continuous fashion. As the team dives deeper into Infrastructure as Code (IoC), Cosmos DB stores configuration information to support optimal build environments. Releases are smoother and less prone to errors with Virtual Studio Team Services (VSTS) where the team also collaborates on code and experiments with A/B split testing. “Our platform intersects a great deal of data and technology,” says Grévy, “yet our complete integration with Azure streamlines our infrastructure, simplifies our processes and makes our lives infinitely easier.”
Embracing Azure Kubernetes Service
Kubernetes is at the heart of the FusionFabric.cloud platform, allowing the orchestration of Docker containers. Fintech applications can run and scale with ease on Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS), the next-generation service that builds on the Azure Container Service Engine (ACS). Currently on an ACS-engine, Finastra plans to migrate to AKS. AKS brings a fundamental benefit to the development team at Finastra, as Grévy explains, “AKS gives us a pure Kubernetes and Docker imaging environment that we don’t have to manage ourselves. Our team has regained the resources to accelerate deployment and maximize our PaaS offering.”
The team uses Azure Container Registry (ACR) to simplify container development, while geo-replication helps run disaster recovery procedures for different locations. The ACR can also audit whether data residency is running in the same jurisdiction as the banks. Inbuilt application auto scaling allows the team to manage cost burden and react quickly to meet spiked demands of partners and customers.
Businesses are transforming from on-premises to the cloud very quickly while building and managing modern and cloud-native applications. Kubernetes is one of the solutions that is open-sourced and supports building and deploying cloud-native apps with complete orchestration. Azure Kubernetes Service is a robust and cost-effective container orchestration service that helps you to deploy and manage containerized applications in seconds where additional resources are assigned automatically without the headache of managing additional servers.
AKS nodes are scaled-out automatically as the demand increases. It has numerous benefits such as security with role-based access, easy integration with other development tools, and running any workload in the Kubernetes cluster environment. It also offers efficient utilization of resources, removes complexities, easily scaled-out, and migrates any existing workload to a containerized environment and all containerized resources can be accessed via the AKS management portal or AKS CLI.