In a recent presentation at Destination: Scale, I gave an inside look into how NexJ, the pioneer of intelligent customer management with client engagement products designed for the financial services industry, expanded our customer base utilizing modern architecture focused on scalability and connectivity.
*This post was written by, Jelena Duma, Senior Director of Enterprise Architecture, and originally posted on Kong’s blog on 07/21/2021
Taking Aim at a New Market
We set out to pivot our target audience beyond mostly large clients with on-premise environments to include smaller firms with diverse, cloud-centric deployments. As NexJ provides products within wealth management, private banking, commercial banking, corporate banking, sales, trading & research, and insurance, we offer specifically tailored solutions for the unique requirements of each sub vertical.
Our customers typically have a massive number of users and many systems integrated into each deployment. These deployments have been mostly on-premises with large clients such as Wells Fargo, UBS and Royal Bank of Canada, sometimes with 12,000-35,000 users and 12-19 integrated systems. Previously, we serviced these clients with a monolithic architecture on classic virtual machines, but challenges arose when we looked to scale and service smaller clients who often avoided on-premises installation due to cost.
Going API-First for End-to-End Connectivity
To address the growing market and win smaller deals with a subscription model, we required a more flexible architecture that would not compromise current deployments. The ideal solution would need to be able to be deployed in one place, serve multiple clients, and reduce operational and maintenance costs without interrupting workflow during the transition.
Naturally, the team examined cloud providers and their services, but ultimately opted for an API-first model to define APIs and integrations and build applications. With the meteoric rise of cloud applications, connectivity was the core requirement – to interlace our applications and data as well as third-party integrations, particularly with financial services ecosystems, with seamless transitions. An API management platform was the key to tie this connectivity fabric together and improve process and collaboration throughout the company.
Embracing an API-first model would allow us to add new services and technologies swiftly without having to architect the entire system. The challenge, however, was to decouple the large monolithic application to deploy in the cloud and integrate with standard cloud applications using OAuth2 authentication, while also securely exposing APIs for third-party integrations. With this, the team went on the hunt to compare API management platforms, including Kong.
We ultimately selected Kong to expose our APIs and use Kong Gateway for a unified and consistent interface across applications. Kong enabled us to design our APIs, formulate standards and maintain a uniform appearance for the client despite changes on the backend such as technology stack adjustments or API version or structural changes.
Kong’s Developer Portal was also critical in providing a seamless experience for our developers to track workspaces, services and routes as well as integrations for application monitoring and API tracing. Most importantly, Kong provided robust zero-trust security to meet global financial industry standards.
Today, we aim to expand our use of Kong to monitor API usage, subscriptions, and tracing, implement a GitOps integration and evaluate Kong’s recently announced generally available service connectivity platform, Kong Konnect.