The consumerization of the technology industry has had a major impact on the way IT and business applications are built and managed in the financial services industry, leading to business complexity. Businesses today have a need to respond to dynamic changes in the marketplace to keep up with their consumers. Consumers are now interacting through mobile and social platforms, about a brand’s product or services. This has added to the volume and complexity of data, which companies now need to process and respond to.
Business applications now need to be designed and managed in such a manner that they can dynamically be responsive to changes. In their report on the State of Compliance 2014 in financial services industry, PwC found that the cost of compliance increased in about 60 percent of the organizations owing to the complexities of business requirement changes, regulatory compliance requirements and others. If not handled systemically, this has a high potential for risk for financial services organizations. IT personnel and business executives need a system that can reliably ensure compliance, visibility and traceability of application(s) features to their source. There is essentially a need for a support system that can provide granular control for managing and supporting changes, to enable business applications to be built, modified and managed at scale.
DevOps unifies the development and operational processes of an organization in such a way that supports a rapid federated application development capability, while also offering finer control over management of operations. In essence, DevOps becomes a framework that supports rapid development and innovation, while integrating closely with operations.
A Cloud-based (Private or Hybrid) DevOps system centralizes organizational capabilities required to manage change at scale systemically. In highly regulated industries, such as banking and financial services, the impact that DevOps promises to bring about can be transformational.
Typically, such a system is generally composed of a combination of tools and processes that would support the following capabilities:
- A federated life cycle development of applications that is able to be centrally managed.
- Grouping and organization of projects to support collaboration, with the ability to organize tools, documents and software artifacts logically so they can be searched and reused.
- Standardized Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) processes with a common set of tools and a release management structure to support fast and continuous deployment of applications at short frequency.
- Role-based any time, any device access and visibility to project status, traceability and compliance reports, with the ability to integrate with external project management and operation support systems.
Relevance for banking and financial services Industry:
When banking and financial service organizations are thinking adopting DevOps solutions, they must consider standardization, transparency and traceability for their application development processes and operations. Not just that, but they must think about how the traceability of business transactions and transparency in compliance reporting, not only reduces the cost of compliance reporting, but also brings about predictability and efficiency in operations.
With technology deeply embedded into every aspect of business operations from product development, to sales, marketing and operations, it is imperative that the IT department, in a financial services organization, can provide the tools and frameworks needed to facilitate the federated development of applications and also support a centralized management, control and reporting of operations.
Having said that, financial services companies face multiple challenges in their quest of adopting DevOps, some typical ones being:
- Organizational and people change management. DevOps seeks to centralize management, while supporting federated development. This essentially is counter intuitive to the way organizations have been structured and managed historically. Organization silos and the way they collaborate with and share information with other groups, will require a fundamental change. People need to be re-skilled on tools and processes, and must be incentivized for exhibiting collaborative behavior. Cultural and people change management cannot be underestimated while seeking to implement DevOps.
- Technology and process standardization. Establishing a clear mandate and goals for measuring the success of a DevOps initiative across an enterprise, spanning various business units and that often has different priorities, is an arduous goal. Each business unit could have their own technology silos and product stacks, which are often are designed to operate in silos. This could result in a non-compliance and non-standardization of development and operational processes, which could derail a DevOps initiative.
- Multi-vendor coordination. With a fragmented eco-system of platform vendors, system integrators and in-house teams spread across different departments, bringing the stakeholders together to arrive at a common understanding of what must be done to achieve DevOps nirvana, which can be daunting and time consuming.
In summary, achieving an evolved state of DevOps is a journey, particularly for banking and financial service companies, fraught with challenges and opportunities in equal measure, however the benefits that this can have on the business, makes it a worthwhile journey to embark on.
The article was originally published on BFSI Vision on March 6, 2015 and is re-posted here by permission.