H&R Block sheds taxing legacy systems for the cloud

The tax preparation services company eschews client-server and other legacy systems for Microsoft Azure, a shift that required buy-in from engineers and executives, says CIO Alan Lowden.

H&R Block sheds taxing legacy systems for the cloud
H&R Block

There’s no other season quite like tax season, the period between January and the mid-April deadline in which millions of Americans file financial documents related to their income. Citizens who are due financial returns tend file early, while those owing money tend to file at the 11th hour.

That sharp, seasonal spike in traffic is among the reasons why tax service provider H&R Block is migrating its compute workloads to the public cloud hosted by Microsoft Azure. That platform, along with a DevOps model for building software, will help the company better process millions of tax returns annually while allowing the firm to build financial software products with greater speed, quality and security, says CIO Alan Lowden.

Transforming H&R Block’s “operational machine” thusly will advance the company’s digital strategy for wooing more small business customers. “It’s what we need to do to enable our strategic vision of putting customers at the center,” Lowden says. “We have to give them a convenient experience of serving them anyway they want to be served.”

H&R Block’s IT department must strike the right balance between supporting business operations and accommodating the needs of various departments, ostensibly to achieve the desired business outcomes for customers — all during a global pandemic. Thirty-six percent of 373 IT decision makers surveyed say their CEOs are prioritizing digital business and transformation initiatives amid the COVID-19 outbreak, according to a CIO Pandemic Business Impact Survey conducted in July. Thirty-six percent cited improving remote work experiences among their CEOs top priorities. 

Migrating during a pandemic

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