Volkswagen Implements a Global Platform for Financial Services on AWS
In 2016, Volkswagen Financial Services (VWFS) launched a large-scale digital program and set a goal of creating digital versions of its entire portfolio by 2021. Its aim was to enable customers to lease and finance contracts and to book service and equipment packages online. So it turned to Amazon Web Services (AWS) to build a solution.
VWFS, a division of Volkswagen AG, operates and coordinates the Group’s financial services activities. These include direct banking, vehicle financing, leasing, insurance, and other mobility services. VWFS has total assets of more than €225 billion and is represented internationally in 48 markets by its own subsidiaries, equity investments, and joint ventures.
As part of its digital program, VWFS wanted to make its entire services portfolio digitally available worldwide. It created its Managed Platform Service (MPS)—built on AWS— for this purpose. The centrally managed cloud platform enables all German and international subsidiaries of Volkswagen Financial Services to develop market-specific offerings quickly, securely, and in compliance with international regulations and to operate those offerings in their own countries.
Thanks to AWS, we can meet tougher time-to-market requirements.”
Managed Platform Service Product Owner,
Volkswagen Financial Services
Confronting a Massive Challenge
The sheer scale of the task was overwhelming. With 25 national companies in focus, along with four automobile brands, each with eight product categories, VWFS needed the platform to be able to handle more than 1,000 product variations.
“We quickly realized that this could never work in our own data center using traditional development methods and four release cycles per year,” says Crispin Weissfuss, one of the two product owners of the MPS at VWFS. The company decided to use AWS to accelerate innovation and meet its growing range of requirements.
As a financial services provider, VWFS is subject to strict regulations that must still be adhered to when using cloud services. Thanks to the MPS platform, the company is able to meet international standards for financial services worldwide. Security and compliance are handled jointly by VWFS and AWS via a shared responsibility model.
“This model determines what AWS and what the customer is responsible for," explains Weissfuss. "For example, AWS is responsible for data security on a structural level, while we make sure that the platform is used according to policy, for example, by storing the data in encrypted form.”
Enabling Rapid Setup via an AWS Landing Zone
The VWFS team began building the MPS solution on AWS, starting with an AWS Landing Zone, which enables the rapid setup of a secure, multi-tenant AWS environment based on proven AWS best practices. The environment also provides all VWFS subsidiaries with uniform availability to an architecture for identity and access management, governance, data security, network design, and logging. Outside of the financial sector, AWS Landing Zones are also used by numerous global companies to build uniform international infrastructures.
The new Volkswagen platform features a security and compliance framework that ensures adherence to several regulatory guidelines for financial service providers. These include the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) and the Cloud Security Alliance’s Cloud Controls Matrix (CCM). The MPS team also applies a shared responsibility model in its cooperation with national VWFS subsidiaries.
“We define what the branches are responsible for and what we are responsible for,” explains Stefan Klünker, co-product owner of the MPS. Compliance is always verifiable, thanks to detailed audit logs. “We are always able to say what the compliance status of a service has been at any point in time, even for our clients’ services. This makes audits very easy indeed.”
Adding Value to the Business Faster
VWFS chose AWS for its mature and certified compliance features, multiple design options, and an international presence that ensures product availability in numerous local markets. The technical features enabling a fast time to market were particularly important.
“Scalability should not only refer to resources but also to process capacity, so we can launch more than 1,000 products in quick succession,” says Weissfuss. “We were able to achieve this, thanks to infrastructure as code. It allows us to provision new computing resources very easily.”
The option for serverless computing was also a major technical factor.
“With serverless, we can run applications without having to think much about the underlying infrastructure,” says Klünker. “We only define the requirements of the application, bring our code into AWS Lambda, and then AWS takes care of making the functionality available to us. This frees staff on our team and at the national subsidiaries, who can then focus on developing new products, and, we as an IT organization, can add value to the business faster.”
The AWS Professional Services team played an active role in the project. A number of AWS experts, including AWS account managers, solutions architects, and technical account managers, were on hand to provide advice and support throughout the process of creating MPS—and they still are.
“AWS is always concerned that we reach a maturity level we are happy with,” Klünker says.
Greater Autonomy, More Creative Freedom
The MPS by now has proven itself in many ways. “MPS came about as a by-product of our digital program, motivated by the requirement to provide the 1,000 digital products,” says Klünker. “In the meantime, it has become one of the showcase products at Volkswagen Financial Services."
It’s also enjoying growing popularity. “We see an increasing number of products going live. The platform is growing by about 5 percent a month. That’s more than we ever dared to hope for,” he adds.
For national subsidiaries, MPS has created the conditions for introducing local offerings more quickly in their own markets. They can now focus on product development instead of dealing with framework issues like computing resources, identity management, security, or compliance.
“Given the fact that we are a very distributed organization internationally, it is now super easy, thanks to AWS Organizations, to roll out uniform policies, roles, permissions, etc., for all subsidiaries, and they each have their own separate development and operating environment at their disposal,” Weissfuss says.
For the smaller affiliates in particular, MPS means much more autonomy and creative freedom—with all the positive side-effects that come with it, for example, in terms of cost control and cost transparency. Affiliates can see at any time how high their infrastructure costs are and decide for themselves where they want to cut costs, particularly in operations. One of the first actions, for example, was to save on costs for the development servers by simply switching them off during the weekend. This applies not only to the national subsidiaries, but to the entire MPS unit.
“As a development team, we are now responsible for the complete vertical infrastructure and can act autonomously,” says Weissfuss. “We can reduce dependencies ourselves and deliver products much faster. Of course, this entails having staff with appropriate expertise in each area, but the bottom line is that it allows us to meet tougher time-to-market requirements.”
The national subsidiaries can also act more quickly and independently of the central IT unit because they have all the controls in their own hands. Before developing a new product, they no longer have to discuss dependencies with the database, network, or infrastructure teams. “They can maintain their own DevOps structures and react more quickly to business requirements, while at the same time meeting a high level of standardization and compliance,” Weissfuss says. The advantages of this operating mode are particularly expressed in the speed of product development.
“It used to take us 10 months to build a new application section for a leasing contract,” Klünker says. “Thanks to standardization, we can now do it in three.” He adds that the same is true for national subsidiaries. “Once they have built the first two or three products, they can build another one much faster because the developers on site are familiar with the tools and methods,” he explains.
In the meantime, the range of MPS has expanded considerably. Additions include a data analytics unit and customer relationship management, implemented on Salesforce with data storage on AWS. Eventually, the organization wants to tackle even larger cloud projects together with central IT—on AWS, of course.
“Our goal is to bring even more applications onto AWS,” Klünker says.
About Volkswagen Financial Services AG
Volkswagen Financial Services has provided all German and international subsidiaries with a centrally managed cloud platform with uniform policies, authorizations, and security structures. This enables VWFS to develop market-specific offers quickly, securely, and in compliance with international guidelines, and to operate them in their own countries.
Benefits of AWS
- Internationally certified development and operating platform for financial products
- Central administration, local product design
- Global compliance, identity management, and security
- Cost savings through optimized use of resources
AWS Services Used
AWS Lambda is a serverless compute service that lets you run code without provisioning or managing servers, creating workload-aware cluster scaling logic, maintaining event integrations, or managing runtimes. With Lambda, you can run code for virtually any type of application or backend service - all with zero administration.
AWS Landing Zones
AWS Landing Zone is a solution that helps customers more quickly set up a secure, multi-account AWS environment based on AWS best practices. With the large number of design choices, setting up a multi-account environment can take a significant amount of time, involve the configuration of multiple accounts and services, and require a deep understanding of AWS services.
AWS Organizations helps you centrally manage and govern your environment as you grow and scale your AWS resources. Using AWS Organizations, you can programmatically create new AWS accounts and allocate resources, group accounts to organize your workflows, apply policies to accounts or groups for governance, and simplify billing by using a single payment method for all of your accounts.
AWS Professional Services
The AWS Professional Services organization is a global team of experts that can help you realize your desired business outcomes when using the AWS Cloud. We work together with your team and your chosen member of the AWS Partner Network (APN) to execute your enterprise cloud computing initiatives.
Companies of all sizes across all industries are transforming their businesses every day using AWS. Contact our experts and start your own AWS Cloud journey today.