The 2021 Enterprise Architecture Awards

The 2021 Forrester and InfoWorld EA Awards contest winners focus on agility and enabling innovation.

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VTB of Russia

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VTB is the second largest financial institution in Russia. It has a presence in 18 countries including Germany, UK, China, India, Italy, Vietnam, and Singapore. In Russia VTB serves more than 14 million retail clients and about 500,000 corporate entities.

VTB’s 2022 strategy is to accomplish a digital leap and become a first-choice bank and an industry leader in service quality and convenience of customer interaction. VTB will transform the branch network and other traditional infrastructure to create a truly omnichannel customer access environment.

An important objective is building a cutting-edge technology and operational platform based on a new-generation microservices architecture. Investments in tech solutions will focus on rollout of biometric identification platforms, robotics, advanced analytics, and AI-powered virtualization of processes, creating open interfaces for prompt partner integration and cloud infrastructure automation for accelerating and scaling capabilities. 

VTB’s EA function is incorporated into all of the company’s processes and is part of all strategic decision making. VTB EAs work closely with business leaders and cover all functional areas and R&D labs, while solution architects work in agile teams. As a part of the 2022 architecture vision, a new cloud-native technology platform was introduced based on microservices and a wide range of cutting-edge and emerging technologies such as real-time decision making, in-memory computing, artificial Intelligence, blockchain, and open source solutions.

A technical debt management discipline was set up to bring balance between investments in target and legacy architectures. Architectural KPIs were introduced on stream (tribe) level to measure the progress towards target architecture and decommissioning legacy applications, reducing the complexity of the legacy landscape.

Three case studies highlight VTB EA’s progress:

The EA function enables digital transformation. VTB started its major technology transformation in the second half of 2019 to achieve a significant shift in several focus areas: 1) a reliable and flexible platform 2) a high quality of internal IT services; 3) process automation; 4) consolidation and unification of the core banking platform; and 5) agile transformation and decommissioning of more than 200 legacy applications by the end of 2022.

In order to accomplish these ambitious goals the EA function was rebuilt. VTB EA incorporated functional (business) architecture, corporate architecture, data architecture, technology standards, UX/UI design standards, infrastructure architecture, fault tolerance architecture, and cloud architecture.

In order to support agile, a transformation matrix structure was put in place. The organization introduced a chief stream (tribe) architect role that reports to the enterprise architect of the correspondent business line as well as to the stream/tribe lead. Stream architects in their turn supervise detailed design (solution architecture), which is built by team architects.

The new EA organization consists of about 200 architects and 160 stream architects having matrix reporting lines to the enterprise architects of the correspondent business lines. Solution architects usually are nominated from the development group, and the current community consists of 500-plus specialists. This new EA structure allows for running architecture and development processes for over 1200 teams, or over 10,000 developers.

For the last two years the architecture landscape of VTB was significantly changed and a modernized technology stack was introduced. A new governance process for the technology standards and technology stack was rolled out. New instruments for development and tracking of enterprise and solution architecture were deployed, and the architecture of the devsecops pipeline was significantly improved. A significant shift was made towards usage of open source technologies in important areas such as virtualization, integration, orchestration, databases, and big data AI. For each open source product, VTB EA created an internal center of competency.

Cloud-native transformation. VTB EA is a key driver of transforming the legacy landscape into a cloud-native microservices architecture. In 2020 VTB began the transformation of the legacy applications portfolio. The core of this transformation lies in the creation of a new omnichannel banking platform. From the EA perspective this new platform meant a new UI/UX design ops approach, new architecture standards, a new technology stack, new cyber security standards, and new architecture principles and patterns focused on microservices.

To provide a single client experience across all of the channels, VTB created a UI/UX center of excellence. The center engages the collaboration of all UI/UX experts across different business lines to develop and maintains a bank-wide design system and a library of common visual components. It also drives the principles and standards for best effortless UI/UX experience for external and internal users of VTB applications and oversees A/B testing of the client paths.

As a result, the new cloud-native architecture of VTB helped to achieve a 10x improvement in time to market for new products and significantly reduced the cost of the releasing new products to the market. In 2020 and the first half of 2021, VTB successfully launched in production a new omnichannel platform for retail and SMB clients, digital credit for corporates, credit conveyor for retail, mobile banking for retail, and internet banking for corporates.

EA is a key enabler in building a data-driven organization. At VTB data governance and data architecture are parts of the EA function. Implementation of the data governance initiative was accompanied by both organizational changes and technological innovation. EA defined new roles (data owner, data steward, data quality manager, etc.) and two levels of data governance committees: one for operational monitoring of data issues and one for tactical and strategic decisions concerning data standards, policies, and monitoring of data governance roadmaps execution.

VTB EA implemented a data governance tool consisting of three modules: a business glossary, metadata catalog, and data quality monitoring. The VTB EA team created a gate in the solution architecture that ensures a transparent and up-to-date data flow map for all of the objects the business glossary tracks. VTB EA also put an incident management process in place for data quality incidents.

2020 EA Award winner Movi Bannerjee had this comment on VTB’s EA efforts: “A success story from an organization with many architects working across tribes to deliver solid business outcomes such as cloud-native transformation, data-driven organization, and modern microservices architecture creating better UX.”

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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