Editor’s note: Here, we look at how Equifax used Google Cloud’s Bigtable as a foundational tool to reinvent themselves through technology.
Identifying stolen identities, evaluating credit scores, verifying employment and income for processing credit requests requires data—truckloads of data—galaxies of data! But it’s not enough to just have the most robust data assets; you have to protect, steward and manage them with precision. As one of the world’s largest fintechs, operating in a highly regulated space, our business at Equifax revolves around extracting unique insights from data and delivering them in real-time so our customers can make smarter decisions.
Back in 2018, our leadership team made the decision to rebuild our business in the cloud. We had been more than a traditional credit bureau for years, but we knew we had to reinvent our technology infrastructure to become a next-generation data, analytics and technology company. We wanted to create new ways to integrate our data faster, scale our reach with automation and empower employees to innovate new products versus a “project” mindset.
The result of our transformation is the Equifax Cloud™, our unique mix of public cloud infrastructure with industry-leading security, differentiated data assets and AI analytics that only Equifax can provide. The first step involved migrating our legacy data ecosystem to Google Cloud to build a data fabric. We set out to shut down all 23 global data centers and bring everything on the data fabric for improved collaboration and insights. With help from the Google Cloud team, we’re already well underway.
Building data fabric on Cloud Bigtable
From the start, we knew we wanted a single, fully managed platform that would allow us to focus on innovating our data and insights products. Instead of trying to build our own expertise around infrastructure, scaling and encryption, Google Cloud offers these capabilities right out of the box, so we can focus on what drives value for our customers.
We designed our data fabric with Google Cloud’s NoSQL database, Bigtable, as a key component of the data architecture. As a fully managed service, Bigtable allows us to increase the speed and scale of our innovation. It supports the Equifax Cloud data fabric by rapidly ingesting data from suppliers, capturing and organizing the data, and serving it to users so they can build new products. Our proprietary data fabric is packaged as Equifax-in-a-Box, and it includes integrated platforms and tools that provide 80-90 percent of the foundation needed for a new Equifax business in a new geography. This allows our teams to rapidly deploy in a new region and comply with local regulations.
Bigtable hosts the financial journals—the detailed history of observations across data domains such as Consumer Credit, Employment & Utility and more — for the data fabric, which play a role in nearly all our solutions. One of our largest journals, which hosts the US credit data, consists of about 3 billion credit observations along with other types of observations. When we run our proprietary Keying and Linking services to determine the identity of the individual to whom these datasets belong to, Bigtable handles keying and linking the repository to help us scale up instantly and get answers quickly.
Innovating with the Equifax Cloud
From everyday activities to new innovative offerings, we’re using the data fabric to transform our industry. Bigtable has been the bedrock of our platform, delivering the capabilities we need. For example, when a consumer goes into a store to finance a cellphone, we provide the retailer a credit file, which requires finding, farming, building, packaging and returning that file in short order. By moving to Google Cloud and Bigtable, we will be able to do all that now in under 100 milliseconds.
Likewise, we’re using the data fabric to create a global fraud prevention product platform. Our legacy stack made it challenging to pull out and shape the data the way we wanted on a quick turn. However, with managed services like Bigtable, we have been able to build seven distinct views of the data for our fraud platform within four weeks—versus the few months it might have taken without the data fabric.
Greater impact with Google Cloud
We’ve made tremendous progress transforming into a cloud-native, next-generation data, analytics and technology company. With a global multi-region architecture, the data fabric runs in seven Google Cloud regions and eventually will support all 25 countries where Equifax operates. Our Equifax Cloud, leveraging key capabilities from Google Cloud, has given us additional speed, security and flexibility to focus on building powerful data products for the future.
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