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Customer Story

AWS multi-account architecture for a safety-critical application in the energy industry

Building a platform for the energy sector, pioneering in the public cloud. Creating a secure, stable and future-oriented AWS architecture.

Company

Atos SE
Services

Build Cloud Infrastructure
Industry

Economy
Customer since

2020
P

Stability and Quality

Through the rollout of infrastructure through pipelines for IaC.
P

Increased Flexibility

Through the modular construction of the cloud architecture.
P

Scalability

Through AKS (Kubernetes services on Azure) and auto-scaling in the cloud.
P

Data Integrity and Synchronization

By using modern services such as CDC mechanisms and Apache Airflow.
P

Faster Release Cycles

Through the use of CICD and Azure DevOps pipelines.
P

Modern Secrets Management

Through the use of Key Vaults and Infrastructure as Code.

In A Nutshell:

  • SECTOR: ENERGY
  • Team:
    • 3 AWS-Architekten

    • 3 IaC Cloud Engineers

    • 1 Kubernetes Engineer, with a focus on OpenShift/Jenkins.

  • Project duration: +12 months

Challenges:

  • Building an AWS platform for the energy market

  • Large public cloud project in the energy bank (+100 project employees)

  • High security requirements due to the highly regulated energy market e.g. preparation for a C5 audit capability

  • Compliance with the customer’s special safety regulations (verification through various audits)

  • Creation of concepts for security, backup, scaling

  • Architecture was not scalable before. More modularity by splitting into separate zones

  • No CICD pipeline for IaC and AWS infrastructure deployment

  • Requirement to develop a comprehensive solution that is as cloud-native as possible

  • Greenfield project

  • Insufficient elasticity in the infrastructure

  • Develop an implementation concept (e.g. safeguarding data outflow)

  • Complete setup of the network structure

Solutions:

  • AWS Multi-Account Strategy to Separate Critical Infrastructure Elements

  • Separation of Concerns (definition and execution of sub-projects by different companies/teams)

  • Build a modular architecture to increase security while achieving a scalable architecture

  • Protection of system-relevant components through double execution (E.g. securing network traffic through NACLs & SecurityGroups)

  • Deployment and implementation of cloud-native concepts

  • Great use of serverless components for elasticity

  • Automation of all release & deployment processes through CICD

  • Fully automated provisioning of the complete cloud infrastructure using Terraform/Terragrunt to recover the platform within 4 hours in case of disaster recovery.

  • Replicating complete infrastructures for multiple organizations through Terraform/Terragrunt

  • Adopt a “no shell on prod” culture so that production can only be managed in an automated fashion

  • Implementation of security relevant features for the c5 audit

  • Introduction of DevOps processes and methods in all project teams

Results:

  • Stability and quality in infrastructure rollout through pipelines for IaC

  • Greater flexibility due to the modular structure of the cloud architecture

  • Scalability through AKS (Kubernetes services on Azure) and auto-scaling in the cloud

  • Robustness through the use of Infrastructure as Code (Terraform)

  • Data integrity and synchronization using modern services such as CDC mechanisms and Apache Airflow

  • Faster release cycles through the use of CICD and Azure DevOps pipelines

  • Modern Secret Management through the use of Key Vaults and Infrastructure as Code

Project Events:

Special requirements from the customer

  • Very high standards for the safety of the built infrastructure

  • Regulated industry

  • Very large team

Robust and modular cloud infrastructure

Due to the criticality and the non-existent authorizations granted to individuals in the production days, the entire setup of the cloud infrastructure, including the configuration, had to be completely automated. Another reason was to be able to restore the entire platform within a very short time in the event of a disaster recovery. This was achieved with Terraform/Terragrunt, among others.

A change in the infrastructure is thus only possible via a regulated and audited process through the CICD pipeline and allows changes in the infrastructure to become transparent.

Adjustment and construction of pipelines

By building different release and deployment pipelines, the average time to deliver new features could be reduced significantly. During the development of the pipelines, particular emphasis was always placed on ensuring that they cover the specific security requirements. The pipelines are used to reduce the susceptibility to errors and to make the rollout processes as standardized as possible and to avoid giving roles and rights to specific persons.

Security-related features in a highly regulated industry

Due to the very high security requirements in the project and the highly regulated energy industry, the cloud architects built in security-related features in the project to ensure C5 audit capability. In the project, care was taken to execute system-relevant components twice in order to ensure a productive environment in the event of a critical situation. An example of this was securing the network traffic, which was checked and safeguarded at several points.

Other components of a well-designed architecture include an AWS multi-account architecture, organizational units, and a well-planned account structure. By using such a structure, the project was able to ensure the security goals and requirements for all business processes. In the event of an audit, security control can be implemented much more easily because all components are segregated. Potential risks in the application are thus encapsulated and isolated from each other. In the project, emphasis was also placed on giving different users and teams different responsibilities and resources, so that each team can work individually on the relevant components. We made sure to divide business processes into security-relevant components in order to control the flow of data in a targeted manner. This helps to keep data isolated and protected for the respective target group.

Project status and results

By building a modular AWS account landscape, the customer succeeded in providing a secure yet scalable and extensible AWS platform. Due to the modular structure and the scalability of the architecture, all components were prepared for future requirements. The complete system infrastructure was designed to be robust and recoverable at all times. The infrastructure can also be adapted very quickly and flexibly to changes in security requirements (CICD and Infrastructure as Code).

In order to ensure the security of the platform in the long term, awareness of the security challenges with IaC was raised among all the cloud engineers involved, which ensures compliance with the standards. In order to continuously comply with the security standards, a monitoring dashboard was launched which automatically collects and constantly monitors processes and metrics of the system.

Technology Stack:

Cloud infrastructure:

  • AWS Amazon Web Services

  • Container Runtime: Docker

  • Orchestrator: OpenShift, Ec2

Data Services:

  • Cassandra

  • Postgres-SQL

CICD & IaC:

  • Jenkins

  • AWS-Codebuild

  • ARGO-CD

  • Terraform & Terragrunt

  • Version Control: Bitbucket

Security Management:

  • AWS-Security Hub

  • Guard-Duty

  • SAST, DAST

  • Dependency Track

  • SonarQube

Software Entwicklung:

  • Java

  • Python

  • Shell

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