Digital case study

BankUnited forges a path to transformation with AWS cloud

Cloud Transformation


How BankUnited used a disaster recovery migration to AWS in the cloud to spark a broader digital transformation

Client: BankUnited
Our Role: PwC partnered with AWS to assist with the implementation of a new DR system and build an enterprise architecture platform that supports future growth.
Industry: Financial Services, Banking and Capital Markets
Services: Cloud Transformation, AWS, Strategy& Consulting, Digital, Technology, Cybersecurity and Privacy, Disaster Recovery, Business Continuity Planning



In order to make a big strategic shift, BankUnited knew it had to fully embrace the cloud

Founded in 2009, BankUnited has rapidly grown from its regional beginnings into a major financial player, and it now offers personal and corporate banking services to a wide range of customers. That growth had naturally created its share of challenges, and the bank was facing one of its biggest obstacles to date: Building modern digital banking capabilities to better serve customers. To enable this business transformation, IT modernized its services to the cloud, laying a foundation upon which future tech efforts could be built.

In its first step towards cloud transformation, BankUnited wanted to solve a vulnerable situation that had emerged in their disaster preparedness efforts.

BankUnited had long operated a disaster recovery (DR) site in New York where electronic backups were kept, but that system was aging and becoming complex and costly to maintain. Upgrades to the DR site became less sustainable and management felt that the time would come when it needed to make a more long-term strategic investment. When Hurricane Irma swept through Florida in 2017, causing billions of dollars in damage across the state, BankUnited knew that it was time to act.

“Moving BankUnited to the cloud wasn’t just about enhancing its disaster recovery system. It was about helping the client do more with technology than it ever had before.”

Scott Behrens, PwC Partner




Moving BankUnited to an AWS cloud platform with minimal disruption, while enabling strong governance

BankUnited began by engaging PwC’s Cloud Transformation team to assist with its shift from an on-premise disaster recovery configuration to one that was based in the cloud. Because BankUnited is a financial institution, the challenge was not as simple as merely pushing workloads online. As such, PwC worked closely with them to develop new operating and governance models which would help bring cloud operations in line with the regulatory and security requirements that all financial firms must adhere to.

BankUnited worked with PwC to assess cloud vendors, and ultimately selected Amazon Web Services (AWS) as the platform for its new DR operations. The PwC team collaborated with AWS to help make a seamless delivery experience for the client. With input from PwC’s Strategy&, Cloud and Cybersecurity teams, the goal was to help guide BankUnited’s transition from on-premise operations to the cloud with minimal business disruption. The teams worked in tandem with AWS to deliver a holistic, unified approach.

Building a platform to support future growth

Of course, BankUnited had much more ambitious goals than taking its DR system online. They also wanted to embrace the cloud at every level of the enterprise, creating a robust platform to support a future banking platform. By working with the client to implement approaches like Agile delivery and DevOps, PwC helped BankUnited revamp its enterprise architecture to support cloud-based operations across a variety of technology initiatives. Furthermore, the new cloud platform was designed to allow BankUnited to leverage emerging technologies, including robotic process automation (RPA), artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, which could open the door to new capabilities and revenue streams.

As BankUnited moved more of its work to the cloud – particularly a highly anticipated launch of digital banking services – the overall goal became decreasing cost pressures, minimizing overhead and simplifying regulatory compliance.

“Our DR system was just the beginning of a broad move to the cloud across the enterprise. PwC was instrumental in helping us transform the business and make some much-needed changes.”

Julio JogaibCIO, BankUnited


Disaster recovery operations migrated to the cloud, and the rest of the organization is following suit

In total, BankUnited migrated more than 220 servers and 130 applications to the cloud during the engagement with PwC. Validation testing of the cloud-based backup system has been successful, and BankUnited is now in the process of closing its on-premise data center in New York, which will allow it to realize a significant amount of cost savings over the next five years.

Beyond enhanced DR capabilities, BankUnited now finds itself in a stronger and more resilient strategic position, one which has allowed it to move forward in earnest with the launch of its digital banking solution. Early success with the cloud also has them looking ahead to bringing enhanced digital analytics capabilities online in the next few years, a key part of a quest to further improve customer experience, operational efficiency and financial performance.

But without those first steps into the cloud, none of this would have been possible.

Business Transformation AWS
Scott Behrens

Scott Behrens

‎‎Partner, PwC US

Christian Iantoni

Christian Iantoni

Partner, PwC US



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Larry Patrick

Health Service Operations Leader, PwC US