Currencies Direct's CIO shares insights on transformative AWS journey and unlocking success in the cloud

Published: February 27, 2024

Interview with Currencies Direct’s CIO about their AWS Cloud transformation journey and partnership with Virtusa

In a candid interview with Currencies Direct's Chief Information Officer, Vivek Awasthi, and Virtusa’s Client Partner, Abhishek Jain, the intricate details of the transformative AWS cloud journey in collaboration with Virtusa come to light. Vivek, Abhishek, and Virtusa’s Senior Principal Architect & Global Head of AWS, Hussain Shabbir, discuss the strategic partnership propelling Currencies Direct into a new era of technological prowess.


In recent years, we’ve seen the cloud become mainstream in financial services, fostering accelerated IT delivery. What were some key drivers and objectives for you on this course? And what made you choose Virtusa and AWS as partners?

The AWS cloud transformation, guided by Virtusa's expertise, has empowered the company to navigate complexities seamlessly, optimize infrastructure, and elevate operational efficiency. 


We are on a second version of our growth in the company. There's a heavy emphasis on digital transformation to make things right for the customer. And that's what we have been focusing on. Because we are a global business, we need more than traditional data centers to give us a sense of expansion. We've got to work hard to expand into on-premises data centers, and that's why we decided to kind of move into the cloud to enable digital agility in the business.

Regarding why we chose AWS: AWS was a natural choice after we looked at all the vendors, including cloud vendors. Our interactions with AWS were always very seamless and very effective. They understood what we wanted to do. AWS also focuses on servicing the financial services industry, and they've got a good scope around doing financial services.

Then, we started looking for a partner to handhold us throughout the process. We looked at various partners and came across Virtusa. The difference between partners we had worked with and Virtusa was that Virtusa put themselves in our shoes and tried to solve our problems rather than enforcing a set mentality that many vendors have to force you into the cloud. They've got set mindsets where they say, this is the template you should use on the cloud. Virtusa, on the other hand, came into our company, understood our problems and what we were trying to do, and then went on to help us implement that process.


Abhishek, can you tell us about the potential that cloud really brings and why it is such an important enabler to really drive value and get used to the cloud to its fullest extent?


We genuinely believe that the cloud is a conversation of yesterday. We are helping many organizations migrate and modernize the journey to the cloud, AWS is our largest partner because they have the biggest footprint in the European market today. Cloud service providers like AWS provide the standard infrastructure that enables digital transformation and journey to the cloud. As a service provider, we bring a secure, automated infrastructure that enables the journey to the cloud.

 We do that with our patented delivery approach: start right, end right. Essentially, we look at things like DevSecOps infrastructure and the cloud and provide the proper governance to ensure that every client who travels with us on this journey can realize the full benefits from our total cost of ownership and can also demonstrate that internally.


Vivek, I’d like to hear your thoughts about how theory converts to reality, because this is such a fundamental change in how you operate your infrastructure. How big of a challenge was it for your team to adapt to this new way of driving value in your organization? 


It’s a very welcome change for us. I'm very fortunate to have a team that is very forward-thinking and thrives on challenges. When we started the cloud migration, the entire team was already sensitized to what the changes were, how they would operate, and what the changes would bring to them.

We've always been focused on being cloud-ready, even before we started the migration process. Then, we just needed a partner, and that's where Virtusa stepped in. Together, Virtusa and Currencies Direct built a great team. We were already going into hyper-automation and couldn't wait to begin. Virtusa helped us substantially by automating the process and catering to our ever-changing needs during the migration process.

As you know, we are a financial services company. We're very reliant on security, compliance, and regulatory needs. Having infrastructure as code and coding everything around compliance and security as a pre-process helped us tremendously. We primarily focused on that with Virtusa, where we got a lot of help from them. It's much better to code security and compliance in a process than to have it as a post-process audit, which is always very difficult.

To continue our progress, Virtusa is helping us upskill and build a team internally so we can eventually become self-reliant.


Brilliant. You’ve been on this new platform for a few months now. Can you describe the main benefits you are seeing? 


First, we already see cost savings from a total cost of ownership perspective. Additionally, we've increased cost predictability by utilizing many of the tools AWS offers. Cost predictability is about knowing what you'll spend for something new, so that's been great. The third big thing is eliminating capital expenditure, a nightmare for all CFOs. And our CFO is loving this model! 

One of the main reasons why we wanted to do this entire cloud migration was to get better business agility. We already see 12% better business agility in launching products into the market, which is the value we were trying to drive from AWS.

We also wanted to improve digital agility in the organization to derive value far quicker than what we are doing in traditional data centers.


Another point that's often a bit controversial when it comes to cloud is resilience, and obviously – our regulators have a massive focus on resilience these days. What are your experiences in this area? 


It's a lot about resilience these days. We are in multiple availability zones; we can go into multiple regions. AWS allows us to do that quite easily. All the infrastructure is as code, so that means you can deploy into multiple regions very, very quickly. 

I suspect regulators will regulate the eventual consistency of data where it belongs; for example, American data would reside in America, and AWS is a great tool to progress into that quite easily without a lot of effort. You just can't compare it when you take traditional data centers into account. 


Last question: How is your team responding to the new infrastructure and platform? Have they shared any feedback with you?


They have shared feedback and it has been super positive. The team is loving the new infrastructure because they have a lot of time for innovation rather than doing mundane tasks around infrastructure provisioning or software provisioning. They also now have a lot more time to experiment in the cloud, which means they can fail very easily. A huge portion of digital agility is to fail fast, which AWS provisions you to do. You can experiment, fail fast, pivot, and move on. And that’s what the team is absolutely loving. 


Vivek and Abhishek, thank you for enlightening us on Currencies Direct’s transformative cloud journey. It was great learning about how your commitment to delivering superior financial services and confidently embracing the future requires pivotal strategic partnerships coupled with technology prowess. 

Virtusa helps clients engage with new technology paradigms and creatively build solutions to solve problems, optimize service levels, and enhance operational efficiency. 

Ready to get your cloud migration journey started with AWS and Virtusa? 

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