Xebia | Xpirit
Backbase: People-First Banking
Backbase is set to change the future of banking forever through a people-first approach to financial services. With its industry-leading Engagement Banking Platform (EBP), Backbase helps banks and credit unions empower their employees and customers with seamless, exceptional user journeys.
Since 2003, Backbase has become the backbone of more than 400 financial institutions worldwide and is part of the daily banking experience of more than 50 million people. Today, the leader of a digital banking revolution employs over 2,500 people in 22 countries and 14 offices, all united by one mission: to re-architect banking around the customer.
Backbase as a Service (BaaS)
While large banks often have their own IT departments and follow a "build over buy" strategy, for medium and small (including niche and start-up) banks, especially in low-development areas, working with a customizable off-the-shelf core banking system is a great solution. Where they would otherwise struggle to keep up with the global level of digitalization, Backbase brings the future of banking within reach for every bank worldwide.
Backbase’s offering allows complete online and mobile banking environments to be up and running within months, including services such as digital onboarding, customer loyalty, and loan origination.
- A complete, customizable, and highly scalable SaaS offering.
- A significantly reduced time to market.
- A lower TCO than if you had to assemble your own team of developers with the capabilities to build such a comprehensive platform.
- SOC 2 certified, guaranteeing data safety.
The Next Step for Growth
After a year of running its Banking as a Service (BaaS) platform on AWS, Backbase was ready for the next step for sustainable growth. A cloud tender focused on technology, cost, and partnership resulted in a collaboration with Microsoft and a commitment to enter the market on a joint mission to digitalize banks across the world using Azure.
Microsoft and its partner ecosystem help banks reduce cost and risk, modernize core systems and delight customers and employees to achieve differentiation and spur sustainable growth. With the migration from AWS to Azure, Backbase is now proudly part of Microsoft’s partner ecosystem and is eager to accelerate innovation in banking across the globe!
From AWS to Azure in Four Steps
In October 2021, with the help of Xebia | Xpirit, Backbase began migrating from AWS to Azure. Chris van Sluijsveld, Consultant at Xebia | Xpirit, comments: "Our assignment was to bring BaaS from AWS to Azure, a 2-year project with a team of sixteen people from Xebia | Xpirit and Backbase. We started with a PoC, then we onboarded new customers, and now we're migrating current customers from AWS to Azure. The goal is to have all of them on Azure by the end of 2023."
The migration followed these four steps:I. Aim for First-Time-Right
The first step in this migration process was discovery — getting to know the product, determining what features are there now, and what features are wanted. This input then forms the basis for a reference architecture that reveals what the product will look like on Azure. Next, four workstreams were set up (Access, Runtimes, CI/CD, and Experimentation) that started working on the MVP/PoC according to the requirements.
“Because of the many people we spoke to in the preliminary phase, we had the right input to create a reference architecture that suited Backbase very well. The MVP was ‘First-Time-Right’ and thus the foundation for the final product,” Jelmer de Jong, Consultant at Xebia | Xpirit, adds.II. Move Beyond Feature Parity
Van Sluijsveld, “To decide what products we would use, we looked at what Backbase was using on AWS, what the equivalent would be on Azure, and whether it could handle the same scale, for example. In this 'product shoot out,' we worked with Backbase to make all the choices for the new products."
The initial goal was feature parity, but along the way, the migration proved to be a vehicle for a complete upgrade of Backbase’s SaaS product at both the application and the infrastructure level. “For example, we replaced MySQL with MSSQL, and by using Argo CD instead of Flux CD, we now have much more insight into what the application is doing,” De Jong adds.
“Switching to one identity provider (Azure AD), and implementing the principle of least privilege, helped Backbase grow security maturity. Last but not least, we undertook a huge harmonization effort, moving all CI/CD tooling (Bitbucket, Jenkins, and GitHub Cloud) to one centrally managed GitHub Enterprise Managed Cloud offering," Van Sluijsveld concludes.
III. Redesign and Train Teams
Over the past two years, the Backbase team has tripled — driven by the need to accelerate platform development and to keep Backbase operating on AWS while setting up Azure. "Backbase initially had one team working on everything. By 2022, that team had over 30 people, making it too big to manage effectively. So, we split it into four teams, each responsible for part of the platform, such as security and identity management or application deployment and corporate tooling. After all, the latter also had to be migrated to Azure," Patrick van Kleef, Consultant at Xebia | Xpirit, adds.
Today, Backbase has three dedicated BaaS teams, as well as Product Owners, and Project Managers, roles that didn’t exist before. Finally, Xebia | Xpirit provided the following training courses to ensure everyone had a solid Azure foundation to build on: Microsoft Azure Fundamentals (AZ-900), Microsoft Azure Administrator (AZ-104), and Designing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions (AZ-305).
Because a part of its customers is still on AWS, Backbase is currently working on both platforms. In 2023, current customers will be migrated to Azure, allowing the AWS environment to be phased out. Of course, any new customer will now land directly on the Azure environment. Van Sluijsveld, "The ultimate goal is to completely turn off AWS and have BaaS and everything the teams need running on Azure. Today, all internal tooling and new customers are on Azure. After recently obtaining the SOC 2 certification, which gives existing customers the same guarantee as on the old platform, we are ready to start migrating them!"