Case Study

Held Back by Database Scalability, This Financial Services Company Switches to Google Cloud and Cloud Spanner

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Financial services provider, Azimut Group, turns to Google Cloud and Google Cloud Spanner. The result? It can scale up databases in two minutes instead of one day, and it saves 35% on cloud provider costs.

Azimut Group operates an international network of companies handling investment and asset management, mutual funds, hedge funds, and insurance. Founded in Milan, Italy in 1988, Azimut Group today has branches in fifteen countries, including Brazil, China, and the USA.

“We have subsidiaries and manage funds all over the world,” explains Simone Bertolotti, IT Manager at Azimut Holding S.p.a. “That means that any technology that we put in place has to cover needs from many different countries.”

“When complicated analysis has to be executed, we have to increase our table space in a couple of minutes so that the AI can drill down into the data and deliver the information we need.”

Simone Bertolotti, IT Manager, Azimut Holding S.p.a.

Azimut manages its funds with investment advisors who use information sourced from Bloomberg, Reuters and others. “They use a huge amount of data,” says Simone. “They work with spreadsheets, algorithms, formulae and they analyse data in minutes.” In finance, every second is crucial, which is why Azimut decided to develop a risk management dashboard that can process information even more quickly, then distribute it worldwide.

“When an advisor manages data, that data is used to make immediate decisions on funds, capital movements or whether to sell stock,” says Simone. “They have to be ready to make recommendations for any amount of data that comes to them. For our dashboard, that means that when additional information arrives or complicated analysis has to be executed, we have to increase our table space in a couple of minutes so that the AI can drill down into the data and deliver the information we need.”

Generating insights at speed

Investors and investment managers make decisions based on the most accurate, up-to-date information possible. For Azimut Group, information sourced through financial data vendors such as Bloomberg and Reuters provided only part of the data that the group required.

“We looked to collect information from a range of different providers,” explains Simone, “then analyse it to develop a predictive algorithm that could work faster than an advisor stationed at the terminal. We set ourselves the challenge to try to manipulate that data to add new insights into our matrix, so that every one of our branches across the world can see risk information about the funds in real-time.”

“We compared Google Cloud Platform’s performance with our previous cloud provider, and saw huge benefits of switching to Google. For me, the key performance issue is scaling. With Google Cloud Platform I know that I can increase and decrease my infrastructure quickly, when I need it.

Simone Bertolotti, IT Manager, Azimut Holding S.p.a.

The first cloud provider Azimut used to build its system struggled to scale quickly to meet different kinds of data challenges. “If we wanted to add more cores, that was fine,” says Simone. “But the previous cloud provider made it complicated to raise the amount of space in a database infrastructure and scale up to demand. Scaling up for more in-depth analysis would take a day, and our need was immediate.”

That’s why Azimut switched one year ago to Google Cloud Platform to run the 150 VMs on its risk analysis platform. “We compared Google Cloud Platform’s performance with our previous cloud provider, and saw huge benefits of switching to Google. For me, the key performance issue is scaling,” says Simone. “With Google Cloud Platform I know that I can increase and decrease my infrastructure quickly, when I need it. Instead of waiting a day to scale up infrastructure, we can request and add space to our database in a couple of minutes.”

The infrastructure of Azimut’s solution handles around 800TB of data per month, and Google’s global network of servers and high-speed connections ensure that it gets to where it’s most needed by the most direct route. Impressed by the speed, security and availability of Google Cloud Platform, Azimut has moved its intranet on to Google Cloud Platform, too, eliminating the need for staff to login with VPNs.

“Instead of waiting a day to scale up infrastructure, we can request and add space to our database in a couple of minutes.”

Simone Bertolotti, IT Manager, Azimut Holding S.p.a.

Driving ahead with Noovle

For Azimut, migrating the risk management dashboard is the latest of many Google product collaborations with cloud consultancy Noovle. “Everything started five years ago,” says Simone, “when Noovle assisted us in migrating to Gmail from our on-premise email solution. From G Suite to Google Cloud Platform, we’ve had a great relationship. Noovle provides consultancy services, support for mobility, and external advisors who work on our premises, such as when they trained us how to broadcast our meetings on Google Hangouts. As an independent company, we know we can trust them for transparent advice. All they care about is the best way to get a job done and to help us reach our goals.”

New app, new customers

In a business case comparison, Google Cloud Platform cost Azimut 35% less to run than the previous cloud provider. Now the group is building a major new mobile application on Google App Engine to be released in 2018.

“The new mobile application will allow customers to trade directly, without human advisors, by proposing different investment solutions depending on targets the customers set,” says Simone. “So if a customer aims to make money with investments, they enter their relevant personal information and we carry out the necessary regulatory checks and suggest what they could buy. The entire project will be based on Google Cloud Platform, so customers can control their investments through the app while we manage the fund, using Google Cloud Spanner on the backend.”

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