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Trading Technology

03:15 PM
Lance Braunstein, Morgan Stanley
Lance Braunstein, Morgan Stanley

Case Study: Morgan Stanley Taps BladeLogic to Simplify Complex Application Deployment

Operations Manager solution allows Morgan Stanley's Global Wealth Management Group to increase change management capacity and improve execution quality in high change-velocity environment.

Morgan Stanley's financial advisers and the clients served by the firm's Global Wealth Management Group need the latest information about market changes and the execution of trades as well as informed analysis to make the best investment decisions. Accessing the latest information means having the latest versions of business applications. Morgan Stanley needed to find a way to ensure consistent, high-quality change management across multiple environments without interrupting the business or tying up support staff, and it turned to BladeLogic, a Lexington, Mass.-based provider of data center automation software, for help.

BladeLogic is helping Morgan Stanley "achieve rapid installation and reduce lead times for application deployments and to ensure consistency among hundreds of application servers," says Michael Cantwell, a VP of Morgan Stanley's field application and data services group who manages Web engineering for the Global Wealth Management Group, including application release management. BladeLogic has allowed Cantwell's team to improve change management capacity more than tenfold, reduce downtime and improve labor efficiency in the first year.

Morgan Stanley has more than $782 billion in assets under management and more than 600 offices in 33 countries. Its Global Wealth Management Group (GWMG) provides brokerage, investment and financial services to individual investors via products including mutual funds, equities, fixed-income products, banking, mortgages, insurance and annuities.

GWMG heavily relies on two Web portals, each of which consists of roughly 80 to 90 servers running more than 100 applications. One portal (Ideas) is accessed by Morgan Stanley's financial advisers to perform functions such as reviewing client account data and statements, and rebalancing portfolios. The external portal (ClientServ) allows Morgan Stanley clients to view account summaries, review gains and losses in their accounts, trade securities, review account activity, download tax information and perform banking transactions.

'High Change-Velocity' Environments

Morgan Stanley is constantly adding capabilities, data sources and interface features; enhancing security; or applying software patches to the applications running within both portals. "These environments have a very high change velocity," says Cantwell. "We're deploying as many as 100 changes per week." These changes must be applied across numerous servers in development, quality assurance (QA)/staging, production and business continuity planning (BCP) environments in Morgan Stanley's main Brooklyn, N.Y., data center and its standby data center in Utah, according to Cantwell.

"We maintain very rigorous change management processes. Our controls are under constant scrutiny from internal auditors, our compliance and legal departments, and, through them, from regulators," says Cantwell. In order to meet these requirements, the firm must ensure that each change is not only deployed properly, but can be audited and rolled back if needed. What's more, most changes must be performed within a brief weekly two-hour window to prevent any interruption in business and to minimize the time that as many as 25 staffers must be on hand to coordinate the changes.

Realizing its existing processes and tools were inadequate, labor-intensive and error-prone, Morgan Stanley began looking for a new application deployment solution in early 2007. While not required in the initial assessment, Morgan Stanley hoped to find a tool that also would provide capabilities such as hardware and operating system provisioning.

Cantwell's group considered building a solution in-house as well as buying packaged software from various operations management software vendors. While a number of vendors' software could handle relatively basic tasks, such as hardware and operating system provisioning, and basic configuration management, Cantwell says, BladeLogic excelled at the more advanced configuration management and application automation Morgan Stanley required.

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