By using AWS, Judo has been able to grow rapidly and minimized capex costs whilst maximizing flexibility.
Alex Twigg Chief Information Officer, Judo Capital
  • Judo Capital needed a highly secure and extensible infrastructure to support innovation and reduce development time
  • The company is running its loan origination systems on AWS with the help of Amazon Partner Network Advanced Consulting Partner Itoc
  • Avoids the costs of owning IT and drives innovation with flexible architecture
  • Ensures financial data stays secure
  • Reduces development time by months and gains 99.999 percent infrastructure reliability

Melbourne-based financial services business Judo Capital (Judo) was founded by a team of experienced Australian bankers who felt that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)—which produce more than half of Australia’s wealth—were not receiving the efficient and personalized financial services they needed to grow and prosper. Judo, which launches more formally in the second half of 2017, currently employs about 30 people and is planning to double its workforce in its first year.

Judo is focused on improving SME lending in Australia by taking an existing practice—processing loan applications—and making it considerably more straight forward and efficient. In addition, Judo provides a more personalized level of service, with the quality of their customer relationships central to everything they do. Graham Dickens, chief technology officer at Judo, explains, “Our goal is to build strong personal relationships with customers. As part of that objective, loan-origination processes would need to be highly efficient, with data available to relationship managers in an instant.”

Judo looked to deliver this data and speed origination processes with an IT infrastructure that was unlike the traditional on-premises model. “We never wanted to own any IT and didn’t want the expense of developing specialist IT skills in house to manage any IT that we used,” says Dickens. Judo needed an architecture Dickens describes as “open for business”—easily extensible to support innovation and reduce development time. Furthermore, with a large amount of private and confidential data to handle, Judo had to be certain its IT would be highly secure. “How well protected will my data be and how can I deliver the availability that my customers need and expect? Those questions are constantly at the front of my mind,” says Dickens.

Judo assessed cloud services from leading vendors before deciding to engage with Amazon Web Services (AWS). For Andreas Piefke, chief architect at Judo, an important factor in the decision was the “very active investment” by AWS across a broad range of services, in particular virtual desktops and serverless computing. He was impressed by how little time it took Amazon Partner Network (APN) Advanced Consulting Partner Itoc to launch a proof of concept (POC) environment for Judo Capital. “It took no more than two to three days. I was in Germany at the time, but I was still able to access the POC infrastructure as easily as colleagues in Melbourne,” says Piefke. Judo continued working with Itoc on the development of the production, DevOps, and backup environments on the AWS Cloud. With Itoc’s experience in delivering AWS infrastructures for financial institutions, it could automate the initiation of core services such as Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances and Elastic Load Balancing to focus on developing the parts of the Judo Capital infrastructure that would add the most value. This included scripting integrations using AWS CloudFormation for Amazon API Gateway and setting up AWS Lambda serverless computing services between Judo Capital and third-party services for loan originations. Judo and Itoc delivered a highly secure and flexible environment to help relationship managers enhance the efficiency of the entire loan workflow. Among the core services used are AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM), a web service that allows customers to securely control access to AWS resources, and Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS), which contains data on customers and loan applications. The company also uses Amazon Elastic Block Store (Amazon EBS) for block-level storage, with data backups stored in Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) and archiving in Amazon Glacier. Relationship managers access the AWS environment using Amazon WorkSpaces—a managed desktop computing service in the cloud. Through Amazon Workspaces, relationship managers control the origination process from start to finish. Thanks to the Amazon API Gateway and integrations with communication applications such as email, managers can easily update customers on the status of their applications.

Using AWS, Judo is providing SMEs in Australia with an effective way to apply for loans. While the engagement with AWS is still relatively new, the company is already achieving its goal of processing loans within five days while developing close ties with customers. Importantly for Dickens, the company hasn’t had to purchase any IT infrastructure. He says, “By engaging with AWS, we have avoided the overhead of owning and managing an on-premises solution. Our AWS architecture is highly extensible, enabling us to change our AWS solutions and adopt new ones without affecting our operations.”

The AWS architecture is also highly secure, Piefke says. “We designed our AWS platform with security and privacy in mind. Access to information and processes is tightly controlled using IAM, and the platform itself can counter ever-changing security threats.”

By working with Itoc, Judo launched its AWS environment in three months. According to the partner, environments such as Judo can often take 6–12 months to complete. “Itoc’s work was excellent, and its team collaborated well with Judo staff,” says Piefke. “Its AWS expertise and our drive to launch Judo enabled us to save many months of implementation work.”

In terms of availability, the AWS infrastructure has delivered 99.999 percent uptime since it went live. “We are highly satisfied with the reliability and network latency of AWS,” says Dickens. “It gives us a lot of confidence moving forward because we are a relatively small organization now, with plans to grow quickly. Thanks to AWS, we’ll be able to expand rapidly with a flexible and cost-efficient IT infrastructure.”

Learn more about AWS and financial services.