Capital One’s Cloud Journey Through the Stages of Adoption

He that will not apply new remedies must expect new evils; for time is the greatest innovator. -Francis Bacon

Over the last few years, I’ve had the pleasure of working with hundreds of thought-leading executives who are leading large-scale cultural shifts in their organizations. Few have done this better than Capital One, who has built a culture that seems to attract a number of executives that are not just great leaders… they’re also builders and innovators that will shape the future of digital banking. Today I’m lucky to be able to host a guest post from a Capital One’s Terren Peterson, who has taught me quite a bit about what it takes to be successful leading a large-scale cloud migration.

Stages of Adoption

Stage 1 — Project

Back in 2013 & 14, we started out our Public Cloud journey with what we called our “Experimentation Phase”, leveraging AWS in our innovation labs to test out the technology and operating model. In this initial stage, we had a limited number of individuals that touched the technology, and minimized the need for education to the broader organization. Those that did participate were highly motivated software engineers, some of which had familiarity with AWS before joining our company.

Stage 2 — Foundation

Moving into 2015, we added development & test environments to our AWS footprint, and enabled our first production deployments. This was a big step forward in the number of technology associates that needed expertise in the services, which influenced our thinking on how to scale our expertise.

Foundational Elements of Capital One’s Cloud Journey

Stage 3 — Migration

At ReInvent in 2015, we shared publicly our target to leverage our AWS competency to reduce our number of datacenters from eight in 2014, down to three in 2018. This broad objective rallied our organization around how we could use the Cloud to simplify our infrastructure, and drive savings back into the business.

Stage 4 — Optimization

As our AWS footprint grows, we continually look for ways to optimize the cost and improve speed by automating reoccurring deployment activities. Some of the optimization efforts are “tuning” the infrastructure that’s allocated for each application. Gradual reduction of EC2 instance sizes where unused capacity is detected, and changing Linux distribution versions can yield major reductions in the compute portion of your bill. This can improve business value for moving to the Cloud, as well as justify other infrastructure advances in automation and tooling.



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Stephen Orban

Husband to Meghan, father to Harper and Finley. GM of AWS Data Exchange (formerly Head of Enterprise Strategy for AWS). Author of “Ahead in the Cloud”.