Protecting customers, protecting apps
Intuit’s financial products are essential to millions of individuals and small businesses around the world, and the company is looking to make them even more valuable through constant innovation. As Intuit weaves its products into an intelligent, integrated global financial platform, Akamai is a key component in keeping its applications available and secure. For customers, that means filing taxes without delay and having instant access to their important financial data.
Helping customers find financial success through innovation
A few years ago, something happened in the world of DNS that made Intuit leaders sit up and take notice. One of the world’s most important DNS providers, Dyn, was crippled by a successful denial-of-service attack, and major parts of the web were down for hours, sending shock waves around the world. Because it managed its own DNS infrastructure, Intuit and its customers were unaffected — but the event sent a strong message.
Bruce Pinsky is a distinguished engineer of product infrastructure at Intuit. “We knew if a big DNS provider could get hit like that, we could too, and an event of that scale would have a huge impact on our business,” he says. “Management wanted to know if the company was vulnerable and what we planned to do about it. The faster we could act, the better.”
High availability is paramount to Intuit’s business. After all, 50 million customers trust Intuit with their most sensitive financial data, and many log in to its applications daily to manage personal and business finances. Best known for TurboTax, QuickBooks, and Mint, Intuit builds products that are so easy and effective that many individuals and small businesses can’t imagine life without them.
But staying indispensable to customers requires constant innovation — and that’s something Intuit lives and breathes. The company continues to drive the evolution of its products and underlying infrastructure so it can deliver precisely what customers need.
“The next cycle of evolution for Intuit is the concept of an expert-driven, data-driven platform that caters to the future of how our customers live and work — more digital, more mobile, and smarter and faster than ever,” says Pinsky. “The competitive pressure to evolve is strong, and we’re investing in innovation to meet customers where they are.”
To drive product innovation, Intuit has moved its entire application infrastructure to the public cloud and containerized its applications. That frees it from the constraints of a physical data center, allowing the company to deploy and scale apps as needed, with the flexibility to move fast and seize opportunities. But as Intuit grows — weaving its apps and sites into a large, complex microservices architecture — it must provide 100% availability and security. Customers expect nothing less.
Building customer confidence with Akamai
After the DDoS attack on Dyn, Pinsky and his colleague Manikandan Kadarkarai, principal network engineer at Intuit, made a strong push for change. They recommended moving away from the internal DNS infrastructure and finding third-party DNS providers with the scale and built-in security to mitigate even the largest DDoS attacks. With the busy tax season only months away, the company needed to act quickly — while keeping systems running and avoiding impact on customers.
By that time, Intuit had already been an Akamai customer for years, creating a fully automated ecosystem of performance and security tools using Akamai APIs. The company used Akamai Ion to optimize website performance, Download Delivery to speed up software downloads and Image & Video Manager to optimize image and video delivery to customers’ devices, reducing delivery costs and improving the customer experience. Plus, it deployed NetStorage and Global Traffic Management to replicate content and keep it close to customers for faster delivery, wherever they live and work.
The marketing team relied on the Akamai content delivery network (CDN) for smart redirects. And Intuit adopted Prolexic to protect against large-scale DDoS attacks. The tools provide a wide layer of protection and performance as Intuit delivers its apps and services to people around the world. That’s one important reason the company turned to Akamai again, this time adopting Akamai Edge DNS for 100% uptime and DDoS protection.
“Akamai is a market leader in DNS, with a proven record of handling high traffic volumes while repelling attacks,” says Kadarkarai. “We now host 2,000 DNS zones within Edge DNS, and the Zone Apex Mapping feature helps us manage vanity URL redirection through the Akamai CDN.”
With Edge DNS, Intuit has been able to deliver fast response times year-round, especially when traffic spiked to 3x normal volume during tax season. That means people don’t need to wait for pages to load — they can rely on smooth, quick online and mobile experiences while they file their taxes, balance their books, or simply check an account balance. It’s a critical safeguard as millions of people around the world log on to TurboTax, QuickBooks, Mint, and other apps — keeping them available when customers need them most. And it’s a big part of how Intuit lives up to its reputation as a trusted financial platform company.
Using Edge DNS also aligned with Intuit’s containerization strategy, where developers can easily access the infrastructure components they need to test and deploy new features. In fact, all interactions with DNS records have been automated, so when developers need to request a new CNAME for a domain, it’s as simple as calling an API. That makes a big difference in speed to market as Intuit develops features that set it apart from competitors and make customers more successful — features such as machine learning–powered expense categorization, mobile tax filings, and automation of tedious financial tasks.
“We wouldn’t be able to operate a DNS infrastructure with the scale and security Akamai provides — it would be too operationally complex and financially not feasible,” says Kadarkarai. “Plus, Akamai offers a predictable pricing model, keeping costs from rising even during peak season because we pay for the number of zones rather than query volumes.”
Investments in innovation add up to global growth
Knowing just how valuable its financial products can be to households, small businesses, and the self-employed, Intuit is working to reach new audiences and bring financial success to people around the world. That raises exciting new challenges for Pinsky and Kadarkarai. Those include enabling global connectivity for all the financial services and integrations Intuit offers, moving to IPv6 to clear room for expansion, and adopting a Zero Trust model for secure access in a world where remote work is increasingly blurring the lines between internal and external networks.
With Akamai, Intuit has a strong foundation for growth and innovation. As it builds increasingly intelligent, integrated apps — fine-tuned to help people achieve financial success — it can count on Akamai to keep them accessible, available, and secure for customers. Whether it’s tax season, month-end close, or simply payday, that’s invaluable to the people Intuit serves.
Intuit is a global technology platform that helps its customers and communities overcome their most important financial challenges. Serving millions of customers worldwide with TurboTax, QuickBooks, Credit Karma, and Mint, Intuit believes that everyone should have the opportunity to prosper, and they work tirelessly to find new, innovative ways to deliver on this belief. Please visit Intuit.com for the latest news and information about Intuit and its brands, and find them on social media.
Akamai secures and delivers digital experiences for the world’s largest companies. Akamai’s intelligent edge platform surrounds everything, from the enterprise to the cloud, so customers and their businesses can be fast, smart, and secure. Top brands globally rely on Akamai to help them realize competitive advantage through agile solutions that extend the power of their multi-cloud architectures. Akamai keeps decisions, apps and experiences closer to users than anyone — and attacks and threats far away. Akamai’s portfolio of edge security, web and mobile performance, enterprise access and video delivery solutions is supported by unmatched customer service, analytics and 24/7/365 monitoring. To learn why the world’s top brands trust Akamai, visit www.akamai.com, blogs.akamai.com, or @Akamai on Twitter. You can find our global contact information at www.akamai.com/locations.