Jenny Fong

Docker Enterprise Edition Brings New Life Back to Legacy Apps at Northern Trust

Many organizations understand the value of building modern 12-factor applications with microservices. However, 90+% of applications running today are still traditional, monolithic apps. That is also the case for Northern Trust – a 128-year old financial services company headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. At DockerCon 2017, Rob Tanner, Division Manager for Enterprise Middleware at Northern Trust, shared how they are using Docker Enterprise Edition (EE) to modernize their traditional applications to make them faster, safer, and more performant.

Bringing Agility and Security to Traditional Apps

Founded in 1889, Northern Trust is a global leader in asset servicing, asset management, and banking for personal and institutional clients. Their clients expect best-of-breed services and experiences from Northern Trust and Rob’s team plays a large role in delivering that. While their development teams are focused on microservices apps for greenfield projects, Rob is responsible for over 400 existing WebLogic, Tomcat, and .NET applications. Docker EE became the obvious choice to modernize these traditional apps and manage their incredibly diverse environment with a single solution.

Containerizing traditional applications with Docker EE gives Northern Trust a better way to manage them and some immediate benefits:

  • Improved security: As a financial institution, security is a top priority. Containerizing traditional applications helps improve their underlying security posture in a few ways:
  • Security scanning – Northern Trust is leveraging image scanning to discover vulnerabilities within their existing apps. There were some new vulnerabilities that were previously undetected but with the binary level scan, they are automatically alerted to new issues and can address and resolve them immediately.
  • Smaller attack surface – With Docker, Northern Trust can reduce the attack surface of their application by only allowing the required access, syscalls and processes needed to run the application.
  • Faster updates – With the ability to rapidly deploy new containers, Northern Trust no longer patches applications  in place, but quickly deploys a new container with the updates and fixes and removes the previous one.
  • Improved infrastructure efficiency: Instead of managing unique infrastructure stacks for each application, each with its own challenging dependencies, Docker allows Northern Trust to treat all infrastructure as a heterogeneous pool of resources. Dependencies are not packaged into the containers with the app, thus removing it from the infrastructure problem. This makes the application portable so that Northern Trust is free to explore a hybrid cloud strategy.

Impact and Results

With Docker EE in place, Northern Trust is seeing immediate improvements in the way they do software development. It used to take 30 days to provision infrastructure for new projects. With Docker EE, they experience a 4x improvement in deployment time and it now only takes 7 days. Northern Trust is also seeing 2x improvement in infrastructure utilization, getting more out of their available capacity than before.

Docker EE

By simplifying infrastructure management and making applications more portable, Docker EE is improving the quality of their traditional apps. This enables both their developers and operations team to be more responsive and ultimately, Northern Trust is able to stay a leader in their market by delivering the services that their clients are asking for.

To learn more about how Northern Trust is modernizing their traditional applications, watch Rob’s breakout session with Rohit Tatachar, Sr. Program Manager at Microsoft and Brandon Royal, Solutions Architect at DockerCon 2017:

Next Steps

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Jenny Fong

Docker Enterprise Edition Brings New Life Back to Legacy Apps at Northern Trust


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