Improved Day 2 Operations on AWS

Founded in 2001 in Chicago, Balyasny Asset Management (BAM) has grown to more than 500 employees with a global footprint across 45 countries. This multi-strategy investment firm is on the cutting edge of technology, leveraging the latest research in machine learning, big data, and cloud computing in their proprietary trading tools. BAM’s technology team builds robust tools that provide their portfolio managers, analysts, and traders the information they need to drive business and differentiation in the highly competitive hedge fund market.

A Successful Launch

Finding Savings

AHEAD’s CoPilot Cloud Optimization and Governance Platform provided BAM with the financial oversight needed to identify cost-savings in the cloud, including:

  • Fully-customizable dashboards with multi-account cost views
  • Predictive analytics with recommendations to reduce spend and optimize reserved instances
  • Historical cost trend reporting and analytics with customizable metrics and budget alerts
  • Chargeback reporting with business unit, application, and environment spend breakdown

With a quickly-growing Amazon Web Services (AWS) environment, BAM faced rising cloud costs coupled with a lack of visibility into its AWS environment. Like many early cloud adopters, BAM needed help in streamlining Day 2 operations and remediating both cost and security concerns. BAM also had to adhere to strict regulations and required a mechanism to ensure continuous compliance posture and reporting.  The team sought a partner with deep AWS expertise to supplement their AWS team and assist in cloud governance and cost optimization.  

That’s when BAM Cloud Engineer and Architect Matt Adorjan turned to AHEAD for help. 

“We’d enlisted the expertise of the AHEAD team in previous implementations,” said Adorjan. So, when we heard that AHEAD was launching a new cloud governance and cost optimization offering, CoPilot, we knew it could be an ideal fit, especially since AHEAD was already familiar with our current environment.”

While Adorjan had years of cloud experience under his belt, he needed an extra set of hands to assist not only with execution in the cloud, but also the critical Day 2 operations of cost management, inventory, security, and compliance.

“Given their line of business, this was a mission-critical goal of theirs,” said Rob Evans, a Delivery Manager for AHEAD Managed Services. “We wanted to allow Matt and team to focus on the strategic and business side of technology; instead of everyday tasks like installing tools, gathering data and running various reports on expense, security, and compliance matters. The enablement hours bundled in with CoPilot allowed the BAM team to offload routine tasks to AHEAD’s Cloud Engineering team, along with more advanced requests as needed.”

Pre-Flight Check

In addition, with their Elastic Cloud Compute (EC2) spend increasing by the day, Adorjan and his team needed answers, as well as a more granular view of their environment. 

“BAM continues to migrate a significant number of workloads to AWS, so our first step was to conduct a complete assessment of their environment for remediation,” said Ben Varnum, Product Manager of AHEAD’s CoPilot platform. “We knew we needed to dig deeper, identify trends in that spend, and ultimately, put guardrails on their workloads. Over-provisioning of resources is a common pain point of cloud adopters, so identifying and right-sizing that was of paramount importance to their cost-savings goals.”

While critical to cost optimization efforts, adopting a reserved instance strategy wasn’t the only focus of the implementation. With BAM’s leadership position in the financial services industry, they needed to also maintain CIS benchmarks across all of their accounts. This involved modifying configurations through the AWS console and creating tickets for changes to the environment in violation of the CIS benchmarks – not an easy undertaking.

AHEAD is not only very knowledgeable in all aspects of technology, but they also gave us a choice. They didn’t just offer option A—they offered multiple solutions that could really fit our business needs.

Matt Adorjan
Cloud Delivery Lead, BAM

A Single Pane of Glass

“Every client we work with at AHEAD is subject to audits, particularly as it relates to on-premises-to-cloud migrations,” said Evans. “We’ve spent thousands of person-hours developing CoPilot’s IP, so the fact that we already had a package ready to go greatly accelerated improvements in their environment to align with the CIS benchmarks and other compliance frameworks.”

AHEAD performed over 100 security and configuration vulnerability checks for BAM, in addition to nearly 500 automated best practice checks, including the CIS benchmark validation that BAM needed within its environment. CoPilot’s customizable compliance engine provided near real-time alerting on any modifications to their environmental configurations, along with audit log retention for any auditing needs. CoPilot’s summarized, multi-account security dashboard gave BAM a 360-degree view into all of their cloud assets and configurations, delivering on the promise of single pane of glass management.

On the Radar

CoPilot’s ability to ingest AWS native service notifications and alerts into a single pane of glass was just the insight BAM needed, particularly as it related to their internal chargeback reporting. 

“Through CoPilot, we’re able to generate invoices for each of our business units every month to give them increased visibility into which areas are utilizing the most spend,” said Adorjan. “AHEAD helped us create a customized tagging structure to ensure reporting was accurate.” As a result, CoPilot’s multi-account asset dashboard not only gave BAM the inventory and resource alerts they needed to monitor spend, but also customizable resource reports with cross-account inventory insight. The platform’s geographic resource distribution map gave BAM a panoramic view into their environment with both tagged and untagged resource overviews, along with filter and drill-down capabilities. CoPilot’s ability to provide both historical and daily reports of resources, configurations, and environmental changes gave BAM the bird’s-eye view they needed to combat rising cloud costs—and focus on digital transformation efforts.

We chose CoPilot for the flexible nature of the service, in addition to AHEAD’s ability to give us hands-on, personalized assistance, alongside an integrated tooling solution.

Matt Adorjan
Cloud Delivery Lead, BAM

The Flight Crew

”Running a lean department, we knew we wouldn’t have the bandwidth to adopt different tools for optimization and the thought of working with multiple vendors in order to control our environment was an unrealistic one,” said Adorjan. “We chose CoPilot for the flexible nature of the service, in addition to AHEAD’s ability to give us hands-on, personalized assistance, alongside an integrated set of tools.”

With AHEAD’s close partnerships with companies like ServiceNow, coupled with the ability to “stitch together” these solutions, the team gave BAM access to tools they would normally have to purchase or subscribe to, through a Software as a Service model.

BAM was already ahead of the curve in using a significant amount of native AWS services, which set them apart from others in their industry. And having an experienced cloud professional like Adorjan at the helm further solidified the investment firm as a cutting-edge, technology-led operation.

“The BAM team are cloud rock stars,” said Varnum. “Matt has the credentials and knowledge, which made for a smooth and seamless partnership. There was a definite mutual trust and respect, but we knew that had to be earned, which is a core value we embrace at AHEAD.”

“When I’m working with Matt, I feel like I’m an extension of his team,” added Evans. “We’re in constant contact and whether it’s via email, Slack, or phone calls, I feel like I’m having a standup with a colleague, not just a client. One of AHEAD’s core business values is collaboration, both internally and externally, and I think this was the perfect example of that.”

With CoPilot up and running for almost a year, BAM now has a firm grasp of cost management, security, and compliance, along with an accelerated cloud migration strategy.

”Utilizing CoPilot and AHEAD gives us a wealth of information to take back to the business and pinpoint costs,” said Adorjan. “BAM, as a whole, ultimately benefits from this solution and the level of expertise that AHEAD’s team brings to the table. The fact that they have become so familiar with our environment was the icing on the cake for our team.”