In this case study

Challenge

A large global fintech launched a cloud transformation initiative in 2022 by signing a nine-figure public cloud commitment with Microsoft Azure. The fintech handles a significant portion of global banking transactions and has a decades-long history of growth through acquisition.

After embarking on its cloud journey, the fintech soon noticed that organic adoption was slow across the many departments and teams of its various subsidiaries. To achieve its vision for transformation, the fintech realized it would need to accelerate its program and overcome a host of cloud migration and adoption challenges, including:

  • Siloed application and cloud teams across dozens of subsidiaries
  • Limited cloud skillsets represented on its application team
  • Lack of an established cloud migration process
  • Lack of an internal cloud governance body or procedures
  • Significant technical debt across disparate subsidiary-run IT environments
  • An approaching deadline to use or lose a significant amount in ECIF migration acceleration funding from Azure

The fintech needed expert guidance (a) to jumpstart its stalled cloud migration and transformation initiative and (b) to establish a foundational strategy for scaling its cloud footprint and capabilities in the future.

When it came to selecting a partner, the fintech's head of cloud services turned to a partner with expertise in all aspects of cloud strategy and service delivery. A trusted partner who had proven its value through a past engagement with one of the world's largest banks, for whom the cloud lead worked before.

The global fintech chose to partner with WWT.

Solution

The company initially engaged WWT to (a) pilot the migration of five business-critical applications to Azure, (b) build out the scalable foundations of a cloud operating model, and (c) train its infrastructure experts on cloud product basics. All of which would position the fintech to operate more like a single business across its subsidiaries while systematically addressing gaps in governance and upskilling.

The applications in-scope for the pilot migration with WWT included:

  1. The largest bill payment application in the world
  2. A mid-tier core banking API
  3. An open-banking API
  4. A statement and image processing management platform
  5. A credit union operations portfolio

Our team of cloud architects, cloud engineers and DevOps engineers developed a plan of attack that centered on driving cloud adoption through "product thinking" — a shift in organizational mindset that can accelerate migrations by allowing migration teams to focus on the value they generate for cloud stakeholders while continuously seeking out opportunities to improve.

Our approach followed four general phases.

Phase 1: Deployment-ready architecture development

This initial pilot phase allowed WWT to discover and categorize the enterprise's migration challenges and develop a plan for successful cloud migration. It included:

  • Application discovery: Uncovered the current-state application dependencies and identified improvements that could be made in the cloud.
  • Cloud-ready architecture design: Designed a cloud-based architecture to improve stability, cost savings and maintainability.
  • Business case and cost estimation: Estimated how much it would cost to run and maintain the application in the cloud, then built a return-on-investment business case justification to support cloud migration.

Phase 2: Application team enablement and support

This phase facilitated new communication between the infrastructure and application development teams. It included:

  • Cloud upskilling: Working with client engineers to help them understand cloud concepts, developing solutions hand-in-hand, and providing engineers with a deeper understanding of their infrastructure.
  • CI/CD pipeline deployment to non-prod and prod environments: Creating Harness pipelines to create and deploy application code to cloud infrastructure.
  • Infrastructure as Code (IaC) development: Creating cloud infrastructure using Terraform to reliably deploy infrastructure in a repeatable and auditable manner.

Phase 3: Platform and architecture development

Throughout the development, WWT teams worked with the client to overcome common obstacles to migration such as network connectivity, data transfer, and working across silos in the organization. This involved:

  • Developing repeatable patterns: Developed blueprints for common application architectures that the client's application teams (across the org) could use to migrate their own apps to the cloud at a higher velocity.
  • Incubating new services: WWT created new cloud service offerings that leveraged current Azure services; we customized these services to meet the client's security needs.
  • Building Terraform modules to be consumed by all application teams in Azure: WWT created modular components that allowed teams to compose their own custom cloud solutions while remaining in compliance with security and audit requirements.

Phase 4: Cloud business office (CBO) incubation

This phase focused on setting the appropriate foundations for cloud governance. It included:

  • Holistic governance definition: Defined areas of responsibility within the cloud business office and helped the team shape a cloud strategy going forward.
  • Implemented processes and approval gates: Developed blueprints for common cloud infrastructure use cases that can be deployed via Terraform, ensuring the repeatable and auditable deployment of infrastructure configurations.

cloud business office (CBO) is one of two functional subgroups of a Cloud Center of Excellence (CCoE). The CBO is primarily concerned with establishing policies and standards for cloud adoption and alignment across an organization's business units and users. It typically owns business decisions related to topics like enterprise architecture, governance, training, finance, human resources and staffing, change management, risk management, vendor management, internal marketing, and communications.

The other subgroup in a CCoE is the cloud engineering team, which develops and manages the more technical capabilities related to cloud engineering, infrastructure (i.e., data center, networking, virtualization), reference architectures, applications and workloads, operations, and cloud security. 

Outcomes

Overall, WWT's cloud engagement with the fintech leader was a success. WWT migrated five business-critical applications to Azure, including the world's largest bill payment application, and developed more than 20 reusable migration patterns for the client's application team in the process. Significantly, we helped reduce the fintech's migration time by two-thirds (i.e., 66 percent).

WWT identified and resolved 30 different issues and risks that were impacting migration and adoption success.

We helped the fintech's IT organization productize its Azure offerings and helped discrete lines of consumer-facing business units migrate their first applications to the cloud within just 16 months.

We also developed cloud-native apps that made it easier for the fintech's employees to adopt and adapt to different cloud solutions, helping unlock organizational intelligence in the process.

During the engagement, Microsoft recognized WWT as the fintech's preferred cloud partner thanks to the value we provided in reducing the customer's time to consumption.

What's next?

Our cloud strategy, governance and migration work was well received. So much so that the fintech not only continued its cloud consulting engagement but expanded its business with WWT by initiating offshoot engagements in cloud security, networking, data analytics, and automation.

We look forward to helping the fintech secure, scale and optimize its cloud capabilities in the future.

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