Firemelon updated their Azure knowledge and
streamlined their deployment thanks to our bespoke workshop
Firemelon has been successfully developing systems for the insurance industry for over two decades. Their system is used by insurers, brokers, claim handlers and assistance companies to manage pet and travel insurance from sale to claim.
They operate internationally from their Northern Ireland HQ and count Admiral, Holiday Extras, and Direct Line Group, amongst many others, as clients.
Riskmonitor was To support their business growth plans, Firemelon needed to ensure that they were fully
utilising Azure and working to best practice.
Grey Matter delivered a 2-day workshop to Firemelon. We covered their existing Azure infrastructure, services and usage. We also looked at their planned Azure usage within the context of their business objectives and aspirations.
The following areas were covered in the detailed review of their Azure architecture and deployed infrastructure:
• Identity usage
• Compute utilisation
• Network set up
• Storage utilisation
• Monitoring and alterting
• Security posture
• Scaling and automation
• High availability and business continuity
We used the findings from our review to inform the specific technologies advised on in the workshop.
During the workshop one of our Cloud Solution Architects covered features of Azure that Firemelon could use to enhance their security, streamline their compute utilisation and reduce their monthly costs for Azure resources.
What recommendations did we make?
We covered the benefits of using Azure Active Directory (AAD) to handle identity for their applications and services.AAD B2B enables developers to use the Microsoft Identity Platform 2.0 to extend authentication to external users across work, personal and social identities. Furthermore, AAD can be used to administer popular Azure services such as Azure SQL Database.
Compute hosting technologies and utilisation metrics were important to helping Firemelon streamline their Azure deployment. We demonstrated the different options available, including web apps, function apps, containers and Kubernetes and how they could effectively apply rightsizing techniques using compute utilisation information from Metrics & Insights and Azure Monitor.
We explained how Azure Advisor provides recommendations across various areas including cost, security and performance and how alerts can be set up for new or changing insights. We also discussed how you can automate changes for resources that don’t have in-built autoscaling by using events/triggers or time-based schedules.
We advised on the difference between different storage solutions, particularly General Purpose v1 and v2 Storage Accounts, highlighting price and features differences and outlining how each could be used for their application.
Monitoring, altering and security
Azure Security Center provides security recommendations and threat alerts. We provided guidance on how these can be integrated into various solutions using Action Groups, linking Azure to Logic Apps and Azure Automation for automated actions such as remediation using pre-defined workflows or scripts. ITSM solutions for automated work item creation in the connection tool such as with ServiceNow were also covered.
Azure Blueprints and Azure Policies can be used to configure and apply policies at scale to govern, manage and secure their Azure infrastructure. We advised on using Virtual Network integration to enable private endpoint connectivity into platform resources for enhanced security.
High availability and business continuity
We discussed several ways in which Firemelon’s availability could be enhanced to support business continuity. Particularly, we looked at Azure SQL Database and how its built-in intelligence solutions can be used to improve database performance. As well as how its active geo-replication and failover group technology can be used to provide a highly available database service (read-only) for reporting and/or business continuity purposes.
When it comes to streamlining and reducing costs, we looked at how to apply better cost governance across Firemelon’s resources using Azure tags and policies. This included discussing how Microsoft licensing and Azure reservations could be used to reduce monthly costs for Azure resources, including platform services like Azure SQL Database.
Firemelon now have a better understanding of the wide range of services and tools available within Azure and how they can be effectively used to proactively manage their Azure environment to improve security and reliability.
As well as monitor costs to increase efficient use of resources.
“The feedback I’ve had from our technical team that attended the workshop has been extremely positive! We’re already looking into implementing some changes to the infrastructure on your recommendations. This has been a complete game changer for us, thanks again.”
John McAree, Chief Information Officer – Firemelon