NGINX.COM
Web Server Load Balancing with NGINX Plus
Headquarters
Los Angeles, CA
Founded
2001
Use Cases
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Solutions
Overview

Causeway Capital Management is an institutional investment advisory company with nearly $44 billion in assets under management and offices in the United States, Australia, and Shanghai.

Challenge

Causeway’s IT team wants to carry out the company’s hybrid cloud strategy using Microsoft Azure while retaining the familiar benefits of F5 NGINX Plus, which it has long used as a platform for on‑premises application deployment.

Results

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Simplified App Deployment

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Time-Saving Configurability and Observability

“Second to None” Support

Overview

Relationships are important at Causeway Capital Management, an international asset management company that draws on quantitative and traditional methodologies to advise its clients, who are predominantly institutional investors. The firm’s hybrid approach to investment analysis is based on a “best of both worlds” strategy. The collaborative concept also drives how the firm works with people and partners.

Similarly, the company is named after Northern Ireland’s iconic Giant’s Causeway, a geological formation of 40,000 interlocking basalt columns. Inspired by the durability of the Causeway, the firm’s approximately 100 employees value long, solid relationships that respect, leverage, and combine the various core competencies each brings – just as the individual basalt columns conjoin to create the Causeway. This focus on combining individual components into a greater whole is even reflected in the firm’s reliance on a cloud‑first, multi‑cloud hybrid strategy and Kubernetes‑based infrastructure.

Pete Petersen, the company’s chief technology officer and chief information security officer, says this culture extends to close engagement with vendors, who can essentially augment internal resources. “Really strong relationships give us a competitive advantage,” he says.

Challenge

One of those relationships has been Causeway’s partnership with F5 through NGINX. Petersen’s lean IT team – fewer than a dozen members – develops and deploys modern, container‑based applications. They began using F5 NGINX Plus in 2018 as a reverse proxy and Ingress controller for on‑premises applications, and as a web application firewall (WAF) to defend its website, including its proprietary Risk Lens analytics tool for clients.

When Causeway recently began using Microsoft Azure as its primary public cloud provider, Petersen wanted to leverage his team’s familiarity with NGINX Plus and the convenience of Software as a Service (SaaS). That is becoming possible with the development of F5 NGINX for Azure, a tightly integrated Azure SaaS experience with bring-your-own-configuration (BYOC) flexibility.

“Being able to use NGINX as a platform service is very appealing,” says Petersen.

His team was so eager to use NGINX in managing their Azure‑deployed apps that they agreed to beta test NGINX for Azure in a private preview.

Solution

The Causeway team began working with NGINX for Azure in phases. They started with a basic NGINX virtual server definition for handling HTTPS traffic, with the SSL/TLS certificate stored in Azure Key Vault. This server definition simply returned a 200 OK success code in response to browser requests.

Jake Diamond, DevOps and cloud engineer for Causeway, says, “Once we had proven out that basic functionality and become familiar with the interface, we added a little spice, standing up a back‑end service hosted by Azure Container Instances (ACI). At that point we were reverse proxying from the NGINX instance, and that was as simple as it had ever been.”

The final step in their private preview was a reference implementation of an OpenID Connect setup using the NGINX JavaScript (njs) scripting language to integrate Causeway’s Okta identity services. Diamond says, “That was taking the reference implementation we know and love in our current environment and seeing if we could do that in NGINX for Azure.” This step, though a bit trickier, was resolved with support from the NGINX product team.

After this successful private preview, the Causeway team plans to go live with NGINX for Azure in their production environment once the product becomes generally available in the Azure Marketplace. It’s currently available as a public preview.

Results

Simplified App Deployment Across the Data Center and the Azure Cloud

Petersen and Diamond are both pleased with the results of their testing, which included advanced NGINX traffic services with full lifecycle management through the Azure portal. Petersen says, “One of the goals was to see if we could use basically the same configuration techniques between the on‑premises stuff and the cloud stuff. And the answer was ‘yes’. The NGINX for Azure service had an ‘easy’ button on it. Having a lot of the same directives and configuration that we already know is super cool.”

The functionality is second to none. It’s far more maintainable, far more reliable, and has consistency that can’t be matched by standard or ‘roll your own’ software.
– Jake Diamond, DevOps and cloud engineer, Causeway Capital Management

Diamond adds, “You can’t beat a path service, especially one that is so tightly integrated with our primary public cloud platform. That is not available, to be blunt, in other public cloud platforms.”

Time-Saving Configurability, Observability, and Ease

The Causeway team praises the solution’s configurability, due in part to NGINX extensions. “You can configure anything,” says Petersen. Diamond agrees that the available NGINX tools and out-of-the-box directives save a lot of time.

So does deep Azure integration that simplifies monitoring. “We can now get closer to that single pane of glass as it gets incorporated with all of our monitoring tools, such as Datadog,” Petersen says.

NGINX for Azure will remove a little bit of friction for us. It’s going to unstick a lot of other projects, and our agility and velocity will only increase.
– Pete Petersen, CTO and CISO, Causeway Capital Management

Petersen is also relieved that his team will be able to move forward with a proven product and a vendor he trusts. Otherwise, he says, “We’d have to start from zero, and it would take a year of playing with it before you could feel comfortable. Whereas I know NGINX is solid and it works and it’s performant, and I know you’re going to stand behind your product. I don’t have to regain that trust.”

He says NGINX for Azure will “grease the skids” for other projects his team plans to tackle as they proceed on the company’s digital transformation journey.

“Without something like this, everything would get harder – a little more complex, a little more difficult, taking more training and staffing and integrations,” he says. “This will remove a little bit of friction for us. It’s going to unstick a lot of other projects, and our agility and velocity will only increase.”

“Second to None” Support

“All throughout this process, the support was second to none,” says Diamond. “I really was impressed. I have dealt with a lot of support portals and vendors, and I can’t tell you the last time I had that level of support.”

Petersen laughs as he says, “We’re probably the smallest NGINX client on the planet, but you don’t treat us that way. You care, and it shows.”

The Causeway culture echoes when he adds, “Strong relationships are what make for success.”

About Causeway Capital Management

Principals Sarah Ketterer and Harry Hartford founded Causeway Capital Management after pioneering international investment management in the 1990s. The firm’s 36 investment professionals pride themselves on combining quantitative and traditional approaches to the equity strategies they manage for institutions in North America, Europe, the Middle East, and Australia. Employees, who generally hold long tenures with Causeway and its clients, are the firm’s majority owners, which provides independence and commitment to putting client needs first.