Case Study

Experian Gains Full Visibility and Securely Migrates to the Cloud With Splunk and Amazon Web Services

Executive Summary

As the world’s leading global information services company, Experian says that cloud-first thinking is necessary in a digital transformation, especially when it comes to protecting customer information. Known for processing and analyzing vast amounts of financial data to provide credit scores, identify protection and gain data insights for consumers and businesses, Experian needed a platform that could protect and secure its IT and security sources to help migrate to Amazon Web Services (AWS). Experian’s Ascend Technology Platform team deployed Splunk Enterprise and followed the Amazon Shared Responsibility Model to ensure their AWS environment was protected and secure during the migration process.

    • Ensure security of data with consolidation and visibility
    • Increase visibility to better utilize resources
Business Impact
    • Cloud-based solution with metrics now available to identify areas for troubleshooting, improvement, allocation of resources
Data Sources
    • Amazon VPC flow logs
    • Security and applications logs

Why Splunk

With more than 220 million U.S. consumers and 40 million active U.S. businesses relying on Experian to protect their data, the team knew it needed to engage an industry-leading partner and platform for its digital transformation.

“We are leading the charge to the cloud in our industry, which requires providing the highest assurance to our customers that data is secure and private,” says Vijay Mehta, Experian’s chief innovation officer.

Prior to deploying Splunk, the Experian team faced a number of business and security challenges. One of the main concerns was centralizing the logging of multi-account pattern for a complex account structure into a single view. Each customer environment had a one-off logging solution with slow reaction time, and customers’ needs were addressed manually, which reduced efficiency at the scale that Experian needed. Inconsistency in delivery complicated rolling out new features to customers, and the lack of a platform to monitor AWS resources made it difficult to identify and debug failed jobs on the cluster.

Splunk’s platform helped Experian not only analyze and monitor its AWS environment, but also scale for massive amounts of security and IT data. Splunk’s ease and reliability led the Experian team to choose the platform over other alternatives. Because AWS services integrate well with Splunk, the team reduced the total cost of ownership of its batch-processing environment and deployed new solutions to market faster.

“Managing that extraordinary amount of data was initially challenging, particularly because the platform we used before did not have a centralized logging,” said Experian IT Architect Jerome Chadee. There really was no better solution. “Spunk Enterprise had already become the standard in other parts of Experian for logging and machine ingestion,” said Jake Payne, a site reliability engineer.

“We didn’t really have any tracking of customer satisfaction or revenue metrics before Splunk. Now we’re finally able to track customer satisfaction and customer improvement over time; like how long client jobs run, how often they fail, 90th percentile of job duration. All of that is possible solely because of Splunk."

Jake Payne, Site Reliability Engineer

Splunk provides centralized view of AWS cloud environment

Since the Splunk rollout, the team has consolidated logging, created a centralized view of user activity and identified the source of issues. This visibility has been key for Experian.

“We have alerts set up to show us when Amazon S3 data loads fail, and Splunk was instrumental in helping us get both visibility and alerts going on high-priority customer data loads,” Payne said. “Without Splunk, we would have never been able to see the progress being made.”

Prior to the Splunk rollout, Experian — which logs 500 million events and 40 to 50 gigs of data daily — found investigating critical events to be extremely time consuming and inefficient. Now, Splunk’s machine learning capabilities sift through the data and automatically trigger a notification to the security team when an incident arises.

“All of this data is sent off to Splunk, and the application or security team can run their alerts,” Chadee added.

  • gain a complete, detailed view of AWS environments
  • deliver log data in near real time
  • eliminate single points of failure for log delivery and processing
  • control log retention data to meet compliance
  • create reusable features for use across customer environments

Chadee said, “Experian chose Splunk for AWS cloud migration not only for ease of use, but because Splunk is more reliable than open-source competitors and is massively scalable.” To date, the results have been significant, including:

  • 36% decrease in ticket resolution time
  • 61% reduction in job duration
  • roughly 75% reduction in time for security log onboarding
  • 62% decrease in critical support ticket volume

Because Experian relies on Splunk for IT operations monitoring, troubleshooting and capacity planning, it now has better access to important customer usage information. “We didn’t really have any tracking of customer satisfaction or revenue metrics,” Payne said. “Now we’re finally able to see improvement over time.”

Driving success and RO

The success of Experian’s Ascend Technology Platform has grown remarkably quickly, and Chadee credits Splunk and AWS for contributing to this achievement. According to Chadee, other teams have recognized the consistency, value and return on investment, and want to standardize on the same cloud and security solutions to reap the same benefits.Cloud