Digital transformation is changing banks globally, and a new breed of digital, app-only banks are driving this disruption. Tandem is one of those top challenger digital banks in the UK, bringing new technology and service innovations to its customers. 

Tandem is a mobile-only bank that’s competing against the traditional banks that have dominated UK banking for decades. Its customers interact with Tandem via their mobile apps and through a customer call centre, and they expect the highest quality digital experience. 

But how does Tandem remain constantly agile and responsive to customers in an intensely dynamic market? A successful modernisation program involving a complete lift-and-shift migration to Amazon Web Services (AWS) public cloud and adoption of infrastructure as code, all successfully enabled by New Relic, is an important part of the answer.

Consolidating on the cloud and infrastructure as code

How the bank continues to grow and be closely engaged with its customers’ needs is tied to how its technology evolves and is constantly improved, as Difa Niculescu, IT director at Tandem explains: ‘We needed to be able to innovate quickly to bring those innovations to market extremely fast, and we needed to scale. These were the drivers for our modernisation journey and our adoption of new technologies. Moving to the cloud enables us to achieve our ambitions and gives us access to the latest and greatest technology. Specifically, this is how we can embrace infrastructure as code, quickly spinning up the infrastructure, environments, and apps as the need arises.’

Tandem chose AWS as its cloud vendor to consolidate all its operations from a mix of managed on-premises and multiple cloud providers onto one public cloud environment. Niculescu and his team worked out how the Tandem applications could operate within a fully automated infrastructure as code approach using AWS CloudFormation to model and provision all resources as software. The success of this paved the way to complete the migration onto AWS of the live applications and processes that now serve the bank’s customers.

New Relic played an integral role in helping Tandem approach, make, and complete this migration. As Niculescu says, ‘We were already using New Relic to give us really good visibility of our application performance monitoring. Over time this evolved to provide an overall viewpoint of our infrastructure, too. Extending this to our new AWS environment gave us the detailed viewpoints we needed.’

The migration was accompanied by the merging of the DevOps and infrastructure teams, which the shared use of New Relic also supported. Achieving a seamless integration of these skill sets was important to the successful use of AWS CloudFormation.

Full visibility of customer experience

Through New Relic, Tandem had already developed an internal culture of building dashboards to understand the performance of its technology. This observability proved essential as the bank moved onto the new infrastructure as code model. Prior to the migration, New Relic had shown the existing infrastructure architecture was struggling to cope with customer demand. As it moved to AWS, Tandem needed to monitor its systems on an ongoing basis, to ensure it continued to deliver a high-quality digital experience to customers. 

‘We use New Relic dashboards as a pane of glass into our world, whether it’s business insights, all the way through to application and infrastructure monitoring’, says Niculescu. ‘Indeed, when we switched from the previous environment to the new modern software tooling and technology, New Relic enabled us to see a 47% performance increase instantly.’

‘We use New Relic dashboards as a pane of glass into our world, whether it’s business insights, all the way through to application and infrastructure monitoring.'

Difa Niculescu IT Director, Tandem Bank

To improve the productivity of the team, Tandem has integrated New Relic with the Slack collaboration tool and PagerDuty to support its engineers who provide 24/7 cover. This gives them a much deeper informed view of an issue, enabling the engineers to do the remediation work more successfully. 

‘With New Relic we can see what parts of the service are breaking down or not performing well and feed this intelligence to the engineer on call’, says Niculescu. ‘This allows us to figure out these problems and get a quicker resolution, so we’re not impacting our customers’ experience.’

Dashboards for the business, not just technology

As the technology has developed and evolved, so has the way Tandem uses New Relic. Most significantly, dashboards have become useful to audiences outside of the technology team. 

‘I’ve seen many examples where I’ve been blown away by how the intelligent dashboard that my engineers have put together gives the rest of the business instant analysis around customer onboarding in real time across all of our channels’, says Niculescu. ‘You could see how many customers had applied for an account or credit card and how many had failed or been successful.’

Over time New Relic has become integral to how Tandem understands its technology and customers, helping to guide the business to continue to be innovative, responsive, and dynamic in an intensely competitive market. 

‘New Relic delivers a modern, enterprise-grade, 360-degree visibility of our entire technology landscape’, says Niculescu. ‘We’re experimenting with cutting-edge technologies and I know that no matter what we bring forward, New Relic can give us the end-to-end visibility we need.’

‘What New Relic means to me and my team is how it delivers a modern enterprise-grade 360-degree visibility of our entire technology landscape.’

Difa Niculescu IT Director, Tandem Bank

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