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Contino and Microsoft Partner With Nationwide to Securely Migrate Its Website to Microsoft Azure

The Client

Nationwide Building Society is a British mutual financial institution and the largest building society in the world with over 16 million members. Nationwide is the second largest provider of mortgages in the UK.

The Challenge

Nationwide is on a journey to embrace cloud technology to better serve its members and enable the next generation of future innovation.

As part of this journey, Contino has supported the building society for a number of years in building out cloud native platforms, a new cloud operating model and a multi-cloud centre of excellence.

A key challenge involved moving its website ( to Microsoft Azure. This website is the digital forefront of Nationwide’s members’ offering and it would be Nationwide’s first application hosted on the Azure platform.

Peter Nutton, Website Senior Manager at Nationwide, explained the need for the move:

“Over time, our website has grown in size and complexity. So, we took the decision to build a new site from the ground up and simplify. We interviewed members on what they wanted from a new website and observed how they used it.

Together with Microsoft, our website development team and Contino were tasked with securely adopting Microsoft Azure’s cloud native services, ensuring the service was operationally stable, reliable and secure prior to its launch.

The goal was to identify and mitigate any issues that might occur on the platform before the application went live for members, whilst also testing the Nationwide team’s operational readiness for supporting a critical workload. This would allow for further platform stabilisation and hardening, leaving no gaps that could impact the website in production.”

Muthu Karuppusamy, Azure Product Owner at Nationwide, added:

“Our new Nationwide website is the first major production workload on our Azure Enterprise Cloud platform underpinned by automation, security, resiliency and cloud controls.

Microsoft Azure cloud native capabilities helped us to build our platform in a secure way to achieve the necessary security and operational controls compliance which are critical to assure regulators. It’s an important step in maintaining the trust of our members.

It’s also a great example of Nationwide, Microsoft and Contino engineering teams working together, realising the benefits of Agile and DevOps practices for the benefit of our members.”

Michael Wignall, Azure Business Lead at Microsoft, said:

“Trust is critical in the financial sector. Customers need to feel confident that they can access services from their bank or building society at any time.

By moving to Azure, Nationwide’s website will be more resilient and stable, allowing more members to connect with the building society when it suits them.

With cutting-edge security features baked into Azure, Nationwide members can continue to enjoy a safe and secure experience while using the new site.”

The Solution

Contino worked alongside Microsoft to support Nationwide with re-deploying its website to Microsoft Azure. A key focus was on ensuring the operational readiness of the team and the resiliency of the Azure platform. Contino used chaos engineering to run a series of planned scenarios that would uncover how Nationwide’s systems might behave in the face of failure. This was also an opportunity to test the Nationwide Incident Management lifecycle.

Chaos Engineering

The Nationwide team engaged with Microsoft and Contino to test the team’s readiness in the face of failures, using chaos engineering. A working group was formed by Microsoft, Contino and Nationwide’s leadership to decide on the chaos scenarios that would test the team’s response to failures.

Chaos Scenario 1:

An outage to the on-prem routing service was triggered, creating a real-life issue with the site’s customer-facing mortgage calculator.

Chaos Scenario 2:

The second scenario was around the resilience of the platform team’s core and shared services and the team’s OpenShift cluster.

The exercise involved being alerted by Microsoft about an issue within one of their data centres; the Nationwide platform team needed to evacuate their core services from an Azure Availability Zone, whilst ensuring that these services remained highly available as these were also consumed by other teams, thereby requiring high service levels.

The chaos engineering exercise demonstrated the platform team's maturity to move from development to production, without compromising on security, stability and operational readiness.

These scenarios provided an opportunity to identify gaps in the website teams’ services and to work in an incident driven environment. The evacuation of the services in one of the Availability Zones was a success and did not impact the platform's core service levels.

The Business Outcome

Contino and Microsoft successfully ensured that the Nationwide Azure platform team was ready for its first live customer on the Azure platform.

The exercise also bolstered Nationwide’s confidence in Contino and Microsoft, as their chosen partners, to help the team on the next part of the journey as future customers onboard to the platform, as well as in its own teams’ capabilities to assist customer workloads.

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