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Symphony Improves Scalability and Resilience of Searches

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INDUSTRY

Computer Software/SaaS Financial Services

PRODUCT

MongoDB Atlas Atlas Search

USE CASE

Content management
DaaS

CUSTOMER SINCE

2019
INTRODUCTION

Encrypted messaging for the financial services industry

The rise of digital communication platforms has been a game changer for many companies. But what about the heavily regulated financial services industry? Visibility of communications between colleagues and customers is vital for delivering a great, seamless customer experience and supporting collaboration, but people need assurance that their data is private and secure. This puts companies under pressure to keep comprehensive records in compliance with strict regulations and to make sure access to data is properly controlled.

Founded in 2014, Symphony is a collaboration platform that caters to the unique needs of the financial services sector. With more than half a million customers, it’s the world’s largest collaboration platform for financial organizations, trusted by the top ten global investment banks to handle their customer communications.

Users at financial institutions can send real-time encrypted messages, open group chats, engage in rich content sharing, and use bots developed using Symphony APIs to automate workflows. It also integrates with popular messaging solutions such as WhatsApp, which enables banks to communicate with customers on their preferred channel via a secure, encrypted platform.

A key feature of the Symphony platform is its audit trail capabilities. “Banks need access to information dating back months or years to comply with annual audits or when they’re investigating actions and activities. Our platform keeps all that data secure with the assurance that nothing can be edited or lost,” explained Olivier Richaud, Vice President of Technical Platforms and SRE at Symphony.

THE CHALLENGE

Simplifying and modernizing database architecture

As you’d expect from a world-leading solution, the Symphony platform manages a large set of confidential and critical data.

“Our platform is mission critical for customers. We need to ensure high levels of operational efficiency and performance,” said Mr. Richaud. “We also wanted to achieve that by moving to a managed service, which would free the team up to focus on more valuable activities.”

To achieve that at scale, the company needed to simplify and modernize its architecture. It also wanted to build a more robust, high performing platform and take advantage of automation, which would support business growth. Symphony focused on automation to improve self-healing capabilities, simplify platform scalability, and resilience.

“All of our applications have been containerized and we were able to create a completely automated platform on a cloud infrastructure that supports DevOps and the implementation of well-defined services,” said Mr. Richaud. “We can now focus on development and less on operational maintenance and patching.”

As part of its platform evolution, Symphony evaluated its audit trail functionality. Audit trails keep track of all user interactions, which helps to ensure compliance. Symphony initially supported audit trail search with dedicated Elasticsearch clusters that it had to operate internally. Indexing was growing beyond billions of entries, with performance requirements forcing Symphony to overprovision to deal with peak time performance, thus incurring rising costs.

THE SOLUTION

Migrating to a secure, fully managed database platform

After evaluating the solutions on the market, the team decided to transition from Elasticsearch to MongoDB Atlas and MongoDB Atlas Search. At the core of Symphony’s platform strategy was selecting key technology vendors, Google Cloud and MongoDB.

“As a long-term MongoDB customer, we decided to shift to MongoDB Atlas because of its higher SLAs, enhanced performance, and better cost control,” explained Mr. Richaud. “Rolling out Atlas Search was a natural evolution, combining all the benefits of MongoDB with the capability to simplify our technology stack without sacrificing functionality.”

The company renewed its MongoDB Atlas subscription through the Google Cloud Marketplace because of its pay-as-you-go, simplified subscription experience.

Symphony successfully migrated its tier one customer data into MongoDB Atlas. “MongoDB makes it easy to provision and redeploy data in that environment,” added Mr. Richaud. “APIs and integration with key operational tooling like Terraform have also reduced implementation times and reinforced the ability to offer repeatable operations.”

MongoDB Consulting provided support and a dedicated technical account manager, while staff used MongoDB University training to upskill in parallel with the implementation. “The support we received from the team at MongoDB is among the best support we’ve ever had. It helped ensure high levels of operational efficiency and streamlined the adoption,” Mr. Richaud commented.

Alongside observability vendors Datadog and Splunk, MongoDB Atlas is integrated with the company’s observability solution to provide visibility and monitoring over the environment. Together, these solutions provide Symphony with a low-maintenance, highly efficient, and robust platform underpinning its core service.

To help customers find information using the audit trail feature, the team rolled out MongoDB Atlas Search, which is more scalable than the previous solution. Symphony completed the migration of its tier four customers in late 2022, with subsequent tiers scheduled for migration throughout 2023. The Symphony audit trail search UI has rich features and filters to help customers find the right data quickly. This requires high flexibility of the underlying indexing and search solution, which is now backed by Atlas Search. At the same time, the technical stack was simplified with direct impact on operational efficiency and cost reduction.

“MongoDB is reliable, trusted technology. We’re planning to make it our go-to platform for storage and will be using it for more projects in the future.”

Olivier Richaud, Vice President of Technical Platforms and SRE at Symphony

THE RESULTS

A stable and scalable environment

Today, MongoDB Atlas is at the heart of the Symphony platform, providing a fully managed database platform that reduces the operational burden on the SRE and engineering team. Queries that once took 30 seconds take just one second with MongoDB Atlas.

“The difference between life before and after MongoDB Atlas is like night and day. We didn’t see any dip in performance during the migration, and now we’ve got a more stable and scalable platform. Thanks to the integration with our observability solution, if something goes wrong, we know about it quickly and can act before it impacts our customers,” explained Mr. Richaud.

The developer experience has also improved. MongoDB is easy to use, which means the company can be more productive without increasing headcount. Engineers don’t have to maintain infrastructure or directly handle backups and restores, and their ability to scale is dramatically simplified.

“MongoDB saves time and reduces operational costs. The managed services model makes capacity planning easier. We can simply scale up and right-size if we need to onboard more users or want to start a new project,” said Mr. Richaud. “We've saved roughly 20% on our infrastructure footprint, while improving scalability and resilience. Symphony relies on MongoDB’s expertise to qualify the underlying infrastructure.”

But according to Mr. Richaud, the biggest win is the confidence he has that financial services organizations have a robust, reliable platform with great security, encryption, and the ability to store and retrieve information quickly.

“MongoDB is reliable, trusted technology. MongoDB is a key element of our platform for storage and we will be using it for more projects in the future,” said Mr. Richaud.

“The difference between life before and after MongoDB Atlas is like night and day. We didn’t see any dip in performance during the migration, and now we’ve got a more stable and scalable platform.”

Olivier Richaud, Vice President of Technical Platforms and SRE at Symphony

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