FICO Uses AWS to Innovate Faster, Reduce Costs, and Expand Global Reach

Speed and innovation are everything for FICO. The predictive-analytics and decision-management software company provides a popular credit-scoring service and other analytics software and tools to 95 percent of the largest U.S. financial institutions. To remain a leader in the industry, it must deliver rapidly deployed, cutting-edge solutions to its customers.

For many years, however, FICO lacked the agility to quickly develop and deploy its solutions, such as its flagship FICO Decision Management Suite (DMS). DMS helps customers drive business transformation through predictive analytics, business rules management, and optimization. “We were an on-premises software company for a long time, and it sometimes took years to create and deliver solutions to our customers,” says Joshua Prismon, vice president of product development at FICO. “We needed our customers to have faster time-to-market, and we wanted to focus on implementing our software instead of waiting for customers’ IT organizations to provision and build the underlying infrastructure for our solutions.”

To solve the problem and create more opportunity for innovation, FICO decided to move DMS and other solutions to the cloud. “We wanted to be more forward-thinking and bring more innovation to the marketplace, so we realized we needed to go all in on the cloud,” says Jeet Kaul, vice president of engineering at FICO. Before choosing a cloud provider, though, FICO wanted to make sure it would still be able to offer strong security and remain compliant with Payment Card Industry (PCI), General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and other regulations. Prismon says, “There are many business requirements for operating in the financial-services industry, so compliance had to be at the forefront of our cloud decision.”

“Because AWS Lambda does the provisioning automatically, we have completely unblocked the potential for our developers to innovate.”

Jeet Kaul, Vice President of Engineering, FICO

  • About FICO
  • FICO is a predictive analytics and decision management company that provides a leading consumer credit score service used by financial institutions in deciding whether to lend money or issue credit to customers. FICO delivers analytics software and tools to 95 percent of the largest financial institutions in the United States.

  • Benefits
    • Unlocks innovation for developers
    • Delivers software services in one day instead of several weeks
    • Ensures regulatory compliance
    • Reduces costs
  • AWS Services Used

Moving to a Serverless AWS Architecture

FICO chose Amazon Web Services (AWS) as its cloud provider, in part because of the security capabilities integrated into AWS. Kaul states, “We needed a company that’s invested in financial-services companies and their compliance requirements, and AWS was ahead of the competition.” FICO was also interested in AWS Lambda, a service that provides serverless compute capabilities so customers can run code without the need to provision or manage servers. Prismon says, “We wanted to go serverless so our developers could focus more on creating features and functionality. AWS Lambda was the perfect solution because it provisions compute resources without our developers needing to enter code. That helps us concentrate solely on the application side of things.”

The company migrated DMS and the customer-facing website to AWS, running on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances and relying heavily on AWS Lambda for serverless compute. “Our core business logic for DMS runs entirely on AWS Lambda,” says Prismon. “That means we don’t have to manually manage and scale compute instances for each of our customers.”

FICO executes all its machine-learning models on AWS Lambda. Specifically, decision assets— or trained models—are saved in Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) buckets. An event that triggers DMS, such as a loan application, goes through an Amazon API Gateway and then prompts an AWS Lambda function to execute the decision. AWS Lambda also passes the decision to an Amazon Kinesis Data Stream, which triggers an additional Lambda function to update the DMS data store. From this point, decisions are saved and users can query them later on via Amazon Elastic MapReduce (Amazon EMR).

To manage security and compliance, FICO relies on its own internal security practices in addition to services such as AWS CloudTrail and AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM).

Unlocking Innovation

Because FICO uses AWS Lambda and other AWS services to manage compute instances, the company’s developers have more time to build new software and enhance DMS instead of provisioning and managing servers. “Because AWS Lambda does the provisioning automatically, we have completely unblocked the potential for our developers to innovate,” says Kaul.

“It’s easier for them to try new things and push the boundaries of application design.” Adds Prismon, “Our internal customers, including strategy analysts and data scientists, can now take an idea from inception to execution on our software without having to involve IT. They can deploy resources where and when they need them. This is possible because of the agility we get using AWS Lambda.”

Delivering Solutions in One Day Instead of Weeks

By providing DMS as a software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution on AWS, FICO can deliver new services and software features to customers faster. “We used to spend a lot of time in development, but things that used to take weeks to finish are now automated and can be done in a day because AWS Lambda takes care of everything and gives us so much flexibility,” says Prismon. “Now, we simply build something and deploy it. We no longer have to find out, for example, if our customers have multi-tenant architectures. Everything is addressed perfectly in AWS Lambda.”

Taking advantage of the flexibility of AWS Lambda, the FICO DMS development team can more quickly solve software issues during the development process. “We had a situation where we were a few weeks away from going live with a software update and something wasn’t performing well,” Prismon says. “Using AWS Lambda and other services, we came up with a new way to solve the issue and created a completely new design before it went to production.”

Ensuring Compliance and Cutting Costs

FICO is meeting its stringent security and compliance requirements by running DMS on the AWS Cloud. “We have to be very careful about what code goes into production, so we use a managed software development lifecycle to ensure our financial data is in compliance,” says Prismon. “We can do that by using our own security tools along with AWS services to fully meet our regulatory requirements.”

FICO has reduced operational costs compared with its previous on-premises application environment, because the organization can deploy compute resources on demand and spend less time in the overall development process. “Serverless computing dramatically lowers our operational costs, and we are able to pass those savings along to our customers,” says Kaul. “This, along with the flexibility and agility we have, will help us grow our business.”

Learn More

Learn more about AWS for financial services.