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Broadridge CTO: We Took Foolproof Approach to Port Our Applications to Cloud

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The financial services industry is evolving at a rapid pace, with shifting consumer expectations, new technologies, and developing regulatory requirements. Cloud technology is a key enabler for firms looking to improve performance across a broad range of activities.

Broadridge Financial Solutions, a global Fintech leader with $5 billion in revenues, provides the critical infrastructure that powers investing, corporate governance, and communications for leading financial institutions. Broadridge’s infrastructure serves as a global communications hub enabling corporate governance by linking thousands of public companies and mutual funds to tens of millions of individual and institutional investors around the world.

IANS spoke to Niladri Ray, Chief Technology Officer, Broadridge Financial Solutions India Pvt Ltd to get his insights on Broadridge’s digital transformation journey and cloud strategy as well as how technology is disrupting the capital markets and wealth management ecosystem.

Excerpts of the interview:

Q: The pandemic compressed the digital transformation journeys of many enterprises. As a leading provider of investor communications and technology-driven solutions, can you tell us how you adapted to growing demands from your customers & some of your priorities for 2022?

A: Thanks to a stellar relay chain led by our associates across our delivery capabilities globally, we were able to move from a reactive to a strong collective pre-emptive mode very quickly, all this while helping our customers scale unprecedented business volume surges and peaks.

Our Cloud Transformation journey and our partnership with AWS have been very helpful in pushing the envelope on our already in-progress digital transformation journey. We pushed towards more workloads on the cloud to minimize efforts towards migration and maintenance and with the remote model.

To that effect, Amazon Workspaces helped as we scaled our operation, bringing in new talent into the fold. This was backed by a thoughtfully worked-out framework backed by cloud engineering standards and best practices devised over the past few years.

Another handy lever was the managed services of AWS, plus we used RDS, Lambda services, Glue, Redshift, and many other managed services. We went with Autoscaling features and ECS to address hosting and scaling demands.

Q: We have seen a spike in trading activity and record participation by retail investors in the financial markets globally. The capital markets & asset management firms are likely to witness stellar growth. As a CTO, what role do you see Broadridge playing as these trends accelerate?

A: Yes, the trading activity has seen an unusual surge all across; we are no exception. We have best-in-class platforms for our capital markets, wealth, and investor communications & governance areas and these have been resilient and steady as volumes through them have gone through the roof in this interim.

We are betting on our wealth platform built on top of an assortment of leading-edge technologies backed by an event-driven architecture that suits next-generation trading practices. AWS is one of our key technology contributors in this journey.

The wealth platform is designed to host monetizable decentralized and highly secure APIs for B2B and B2C segments at planet scale. We also have sound plans to ensure high availability and best in the class disaster recovery as we migrate workloads to the cloud.

We are one of the few successful franchises to successfully execute an extraordinary volume of repo transactions on the Blockchain and are helping our customers transform through the introduction of super agile solutions on Cognitive AI around intelligent exceptions processing and improved user experiences.

Our onboarding processes ensure reusable services are part of enterprise-wide shared libraries at the time of acquisition or ideation. Our architectures are being designed with a fusion of cloud-based managed services and our shared services models to enable onboarding new clients with lesser incremental efforts, in a hybrid SaaS (software-as-a-service) offering format

Q: How are you using the ABCDs of innovation — Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, Cloud, and Digital — to understand and cater to the needs of your customers better?

A: We have been keen on cutting-edge technologies and newer features of all popular products. We partner with all major vendors to experiment with those features as part of our innovations. We’d used Artificial Intelligence algorithms and native services provided by Amazon on some of our key products and earned top-up assignments from major banking clients.

Likewise, we used Blockchain in a unique way to drive secure and highly trustworthy trading. We see a steady rise in clients for this platform as well. We currently have more than 150 products and multiple workloads on the cloud at various SDLC stages.

We practically used all popular services in AWS cloud from EC2, RDS to ECS/EKS, Glue, Redshift to Textract, Sage Maker, Comprehend, and more. We pushed Amazon cloud and extended their service limits as the architecture demanded, services such as Redshift, Batch, Glue, Database migrations, UI Streaming, API management, etc. We have great interest to containerise most workloads and automating deployments as part of modernization.

Q: How important is modernizing legacy applications in the transformation strategy you’re leading in India? Can you talk about some of those modernization activities such as the move to the newer stack of cloud-based technologies?

A: Unlike wine, cheese, and artworks, antiquity doesn’t raise the value of digital assets. The sooner a company upgrades its applications, the more relevant it becomes to contemporary business. We are very aware that smaller players win segments just betting on the technology trends. We would not want to take a chance on delaying modernization. Our product roadmaps always have modernization listed as one of the top priorities.

We’re several decades old in Fin business with our specialties in customer communication, capital markets, and wealth in general. Our functionality has been added over decades across our many fortress applications as we have scaled this across customers globally. One of our primary tenets in modernization initiative is to break monoliths and granularize functionality so that businesses, designers, and operations find it flexible to organize availability.

We had taken a fool-proof approach to port our applications to the cloud. We started with a thorough fitment study and made sure no security condition was breached while defining our modernization plan.

We also took advantage of the transformation journey to streamline CI/CD and governance processes. All our applications migrating to the cloud follow the same set of checks and quality/security gates before they land on the cloud. This made our governance simplified, and deployments were consistent and operations efficient.

With Well-Architected Reviews (WAR) and Broadridge wide design standards, the application architects found it elegant to put together a reliable architecture that stands the test of time. We built scores of reusable services and artifacts on the cloud to save re-invention efforts.

Architects refer to the shared libraries before proposing a new component or service on the cloud. Similarly, infra cost management became much more transparent by leveraging perfectly tuned pre-built IaaC modules that generally take care of cost and security aspects.

With this, developers need to focus on implementing business logic and operations to ensure high availability. We scale easily now; signing up new clients is a hassle-free experience with cloud hosting.

Q: In terms of business outcomes, what benefits have you experienced by leveraging cloud technology?

A: Our business processes have been redefined for Cloud and refined with each learning. We have a very granularly defined process today with clear checks and quality gates: 150+ products have successfully onboarded with these processes we believe we have gone through some of the hard yards in our cloud journey as we move from our Implementation part of our journey to realizing the optimization levels in our maturity.

We have invested time and entire energy to ensure we can scale on all fronts. We used IaaC and efficient CI/CD processes to improve the time to market. One of the recently delivered products planned to initially deliver a cloud version for 3 European clients — within a few weeks, we had demanded to deliver similar functionality for 3 more clients, and it hardly took a couple of weeks to onboard new clients. This is such magic, unimaginable in on-prem days.

We run Well-Architected Review (WAR) on all applications onboarding to the cloud, and we ensure recommended IaaC artifacts meticulously configured for Broadridge are used in every project. That way, the cost levers, security settings, and scaling policies are all uniform, and usage is effective.

Our time to spin up new stacks has improved quite significantly, thanks to CI/CD pipelines in combination with hosting flexibility on Cloud. We propelled the logging and monitoring features of AWS by integrating with popular services such as Splunk, Datadog, Grafana, APM. The aggregated insights and synthetic monitoring features have given us perspective to help visualize our operations better.


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