Westpac to accelerate cloud shift under five-year Azure deal

  • 15/02/2022

Looks to deliver more "digital-to-the-core" experiences.

Westpac is planning to accelerate its adoption of Azure cloud services after signing a five-year strategic partnership with Microsoft.

The new agreement, which comes after a restructure of Westpac’s IT function, will see the bank increase its investment in Azure to continue modernising its technology environment.

It will also include a training and education component, with Westpac engineers to be skilled up and certified in Azure.

Group chief technology officer David Walker said the agreement would help Westpac “scale up its use of cloud”, with a particular focus on enhancing the bank’s real-time data and insight capabilities.

“At Westpac, our standard for all new systems, whether built by ourselves or sourced from others, is to be ‘built to change’ using ‘evergreen’ cloud-native technologies,” he said in a statement.

Walker said the bank is keen to deliver “more digital-to-the-core experiences for customers”, including in the mortgage and business lending space.

Westpac has already moved a number of critical data and customer insights platforms to Azure in recent years under its multi-cloud strategy. Its other major cloud partner is AWS.

The data driven experiences platform (DDEP), which emerged in 2019 and is now being uplifted to Azure’s “evergreen cloud-native data platform-as-a-service”, is one such platform.

According to Microsoft Australia managing director Steven Worrall, the shift will see DDEP benefit from services like “Azure Synapse, AKS, Cosmos DB and API management”.

“This is providing Westpac with best-in-class data and AI customer insights to enable unique customer interactions... whilst ensuring world leading security and privacy,” he said on LinkedIn.

Walker also said that the new agreement had been structured in a way that means engineers are free to choose the right solution without worrying about the financial implications.

“[Microsoft have] structured a deal that... allows software engineers to make the right technical decisions,” he told the Westpac Wire podcast.

“It’s no longer about making the right economical decisions because we’ve got that sorted out as part of this partnership.

“Now it’s about... letting software engineers build software the way they should do, letting them make the choices rather than being a commercial or financial decision.”

Insights platform

Westpac also plans to use the agreement to expand its use of native Azure services to “bring its application, data and AI capabilities together”, like it has recently done with its insights engine.

Walker told the Westpac Wire podcast that Microsoft had helped build out the “brand new” engine, which is entirely cloud native.

It aims to help Westpac “tune into” customers and make data more useful to customers, including through the use of "nudges" - prompts for action expressed as notifications.

“I’ve spend three decades in data and technology, and we’ve never seen this sort of thing before, so we’re really, really proud of what we’ve assembled here,” Walker said.

“And I use the world assembled because we’re really using a different way of building applications throughout Westpac, and this is one of the ones that really highlights that.