Driving successful digital transformation in banks with DevOps

Innovative customer facing apps are now the key factors that drive successful business strategies in banks. Customers expect them to be butter smooth and constantly updated with the latest features that are trending at any given point of time.

To meet the insatiable demand for new and updated apps, the development process must become holistically agile. There is also an organization-wide change needed in the mindset of how the development and delivery of apps are managed. These are important because there is a surge in the number of urgent time-bound projects and these numbers will only rise going forward. The rate at which apps need to be updated is rapidly accelerating and IT landscapes are getting increasingly complex due to the large number of stakeholders involved.

This is where one would remember Conway’s law — “Organizations which design systems … are constrained to produce designs which are copies of the communication structures of these organizations.” The law is based on the reasoning that in order for a software module to function, multiple authors must communicate frequently with each other.

Here DevOps comes in. DevOps is not the solution to all intricacies involved in app development and deployment; it is a philosophy — one that includes ideologies and practices that affect people and processes in an organization to streamline and speed up the software development and delivery process.

So why do banks need DevOps?

As part of the digital transformation in banks, one of the primary activities is digitizing products and services into customer facing apps that are accessible at all times. However, times have changed where once an app was deployed, it was forgotten about till a major issue or a competition came along. Hence, it has become imperative for banks to continuously innovate and update their offerings to stay competitive in a landscape where they are being threatened by competitors that were otherwise not even considered to begin with. For example, non-banking financial companies, social media and eCommerce platforms, and other disruptors that could be from any part of the tech space going forward.

So what is DevOps?

DevOps is the idea that combines cultural philosophies, practices and tools to increase an organization’s capability to deliver apps quickly and efficiently. This helps organizations to serve, engage, and satisfy their customers.

When implementing a DevOps model, there would be a merger of several teams such as development, testing, operations, quality assurance, security, etc. into a single team for the entire application lifecycle. The team then uses best practices to automate / streamline processes that have in the past been slow and detrimental to efficiency. For this, they use a technology stack and tooling kit that helps them develop applications / features / updates quickly and reliably.

Some of the practices involved in DevOps are:

  1. Infrastructure as code
  2. Increased communication and collaboration
  3. Continuous delivery
  4. Continuous integration
  5. Automated provisioning
  6. Automated release management
  7. Incremental testing
  8. Active monitoring and logging:

So how can banks leverage DevOps?

DevOps breaks down organizational silos and brings about a shift in the mentality. It standardizes the framework involved in developing, testing, and deploying applications and quickens the overall time to market. This implies that users get new updates frequently and seamlessly while there is a reduction in the cost and time involved in testing and delivery, deployment related downtime, addressing changes and bug fixes, and last but not the least, challenges involved in collaboration between development and operations.

According to a study by Capgemini, combining DevOps with agile development methodologies can deploy 30x more apps than traditional software development.

Adopting a DevOps model would help banks to innovate, adapt, and grow effectively to realize their business objectives. It also increases the pace of new releases and hence assists in an effective continuous integration and improvement approach to ensure competitive advantage. DevOps also ensures consistent quality at all times due to transparency between different teams and more effective collaborative models. And because teams are not siloed anymore and a composite view of everyone involved is present, it is easy to scale operations, infrastructure, and development environments with reduced risk. And last but not the least, DevOps makes it possible to implement automated compliance regulations and granular level controls to define and track compliance at all times without compromise.

Going forward, it is certain that the next paradigm for streamlining IT operations in banks and other organizations will be driven by DevOps. However, it must be noted that before these practices are put in place, there are a few things a bank must carefully consider. A successful approach towards adopting DevOps must include an intricate valuation of existing practices, a clear road map to achieve streamlined functioning of different teams, and a vision of the desired end state that suits the current business environments.

DevOps would eventually bring changes in processes, technology, and culture to ensure that cross-functional teams handle all the requirements. When such changes result in close alignment of IT functions with business strategy, banks will be able to maintain their innovative edge.

– Sudhir Babu is VP and head, Product Engineering at i-exceed