ABOUT UAB BANK
UAB is a leading bank in Myanmar, focused on providing high quality banking and financial services for consumers and businesses alike. UAB is established in 2010 and currently has a growing network of over 78 branches in 47 townships across Myanmar.
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As a part of the modernisation and digitalisation strategy, UAB is expanding its services to build mobile apps for payment and e-Wallet purposes to serve the growing Myanmar consumer banking market. From technological point of view, the mobile apps created for purposes of banking need a good backend service hosting platform with a provider that follows all the best practices. As the apps are managing the end user’s confidential, private and financial data, it is absolutely crucial that all the principles of good architecture, above all security, are being followed on all levels throughout the implementation.
A further challenge for UAB in order to launch their mobile apps to the mass market was the wide margin of uncertainty about the initial and subsequent size of the user base and the actual usage and transaction volume. With over 50 million people in 2020 and the population becoming more affluent, Myanmar is a major market for consumer banking, and with the share of online population rapidly increasing and often going directly for mobile apps, the number of users accessing the apps and their level of usage could be highly unpredictable. In UAB’s case, reasonable expectations of the size of mobile app user base in the weeks after the launch ranged from a few thousand to a few million. UAB thus needed a solution which does not require a major upfront financial commitment and can rapidly respond to an increase in traffic.
Already in the early stages of the mobile apps development, UAB realised that the solution to their requirements would have to involve cloud hosting and leveraging managed services on the cloud. It was determined that AWS is the best solution for this, and after discussions between UAB and AWS, a suitable partner, Renova Cloud, was referred to the customer.
Renova Cloud immediately started to gather requirements from UAB and their mobile app software development partners to find out a suitable solution that addresses all customer needs, following the best architecture practices as laid out by AWS. Understanding that security of the solution is the highest priority, Renova Cloud worked closely together with the customer to fully understand their software, dependencies and overall system, and presented the multiple ways that AWS services support and enforce the security of the customer and their end users.
Through careful analysis of requirements, UAB and Renova Cloud agreed on an architecture AWS architecture based on EC2 and RDS with MySQL engine. The UAB deployment consists of 2 separate environments, UAT and Production, to follow software development lifecycle best practices, as new changes to application code will first be deployed to UAT environment, tested to work well, and then following the same procedure, deployed to Production environment. The 2 environments that Renova Cloud built for UAB are identical except for UAT being a scaled-down version of Production.
The application tier of UAB app is a web API accessed by the mobile clients, and it’s essential for this tier to be able to rapidly scale out to more instances when traffic is high, as well as be able to scale in during lower traffic. Renova Cloud solves this by including the app tier EC2 instances in an Auto-Scaling Group behind an Application Load Balancer, which is the internet-facing tier of the solution and is also used to host SSL certificate and the target of DNS from Route 53. Due to the ALB receiving the traffic from public internet, this enables locating the web servers in private subnets in multiple availability zones of Singapore region, ensuring resiliency and high availability, as well as reducing the potential cyber-attack surface.
The data tier of the solution is hosted in MySQL on RDS, which offer UAB a managed relational database service with built-in monitoring, security and support for upgrades. Due to high availability of services being essential to the customer and to avoid significant downtime in case of scale up or scale down required, the RDS database is Multi-AZ, having a secondary instance in different availability zone of Singapore region, thus being able to withstand an availability zone –wide outage.
Of the supporting services installed for UAB, an important addition to support the security and stability of the solution is Web Application Firewall (WAF) enabled and configured for the web app. Renova Cloud advised the customer in setup and configured firewall rules to be able to stop and mitigate a wide range of common attacks, including SQL injection and cross-site scripting. This high focus on security is an important investment to protect both the bank and the end users.
The UAB application on AWS was launched according to the schedule and it is successfully meeting the demand of the bank and of the mobile app users who have started to adopt the applications and do their banking and payments via UAB’s mobile solutions. As a particular success, UAB organised a large-scale event just days after the launch, which resulted to tens of thousands new users accessing the application. Through AWS providing a reliable platform for auto-scaling and load balancing, as well as UAB team being able to scale up the database tier using the AWS management tools, the application was able to meet the load, generating a large number of happy customers for the bank.
The ability to scale the whole system elastically depending on traffic has allowed UAB significant cost savings compared to any on-premises or datacentre-hosted solutions. It can be estimated that due to the elastic and scalable responsiveness to the traffic and load, the AWS-hosted solution is up to 60 percent less expensive than another solution of similar size would have been.
Ultimately the most important outcome for UAB was the time savings due to reduced need of maintenance, combined with the ease, speed and flexibility of making the system to respond to user demand. Through the ASG and ALB managing the scale of virtual machines hosting the app, as well as the managed RDS service taking care of database management, it can be estimated that the time savings come up to at least 30 percent compared to other options considered. Overall, this project was UAB bank’s first experience with AWS, and they are looking forward to deploying more workloads on AWS in future projects.