Unfortunately, it’s not something you can just buy or decide to do tomorrow. Instead, it’s a shift that needs the right guidance to become reality. But while there are significant challenges and costs to adopting DevOps in the financial industry, the benefits are too great to ignore – as are the risks of not delivering value to customers quickly enough and losing your customers to competitors or new fintech disruptors. But what are the drivers for adopting DevOps in financial services, how can you include the database, and how can you assess your database DevOps maturity against your peers?
DevOps drivers in financial services
There are big advantages for companies and organizations which embrace DevOps for financial services. They can typically deploy changes, updates, and improvements 46 times more frequently. Their change failure rate is also 5 times lower, and they can recover from failures when they do occur 96 times faster. In the financial services sector specifically, DevOps enables companies to perform better in three key areas.
- Increasing the speed of delivery: Financial services companies are under immense pressure to release software faster for easier processes with minimal downtime. Adopting DevOps practices has been proven to significantly increase the speed of delivery, with high IT performers deploying multiple times per day, and low performers deploying once a week or even once a month.
- Reducing downtime: DevOps and the Cost of Downtime, IDC calculated that, on average, infrastructure failures cost large enterprises thousands of dollars per hour. In an ever-more competitive industry, today’s financial institutions can’t afford these costly mistakes. Especially when DevOps services have been proven to significantly reduce downtime, as mentioned above, with the meantime to recovery of high IT performers 96 times faster than low performers.
- Improving compliance: The financial services industry is one of the most highly regulated sectors in the world. While introducing DevOps may at first appear to be the antithesis of such regulations, the opposite is true. DevOps practices allow for greater risk management, for example, with small, iterative changes being thoroughly tested by processes like continuous integration. This in turn leads to levels of confidence far higher than the traditional software development cycle.
- Multi Tenancy: Upgrade practices in devOps based SaaS architecture for financial industry improves their agility to the technical ecosystem in the software development life cycle. Multi-tenancy of software helps getting multiple organizations together without any disruption making possible for a scaled growth altogether. A multi-tenant SaaS architecture eliminates the overall costs for organizations involved thus making the management much easier.
Including the database in DevOps
DevOps is about changing the culture of software development and improving collaboration between development and operations teams. But it’s also about automating many of the common jobs in delivering software, such as source control, testing, compliance and security checks, and deployments. With the automation in place, a process is established that is now common in application development: Development progresses from source control through continuous integration to release management before changes are deployed.
At each stage, the changes are checked and tested so that errors are picked up earlier in the cycle and software releases are both faster and more reliable. Databases, however, are more problematic because business critical data needs to be safely and correctly preserved. In addition to this, there are specific challenges in financial services, such as extremely complex systems, legacy databases, and siloed departments. Tools and processes have now been introduced, however, that allows databases to be developed alongside applications by plugging into and integrating with the systems and infrastructure already in place:
As can be seen, rather than database development being separate to that of the application and managed at the very end by a siloed team, it becomes an integral and natural part of the whole development process.
This is a real advantage for companies and institutions where, typically, the database has been a bottleneck. Because the application and database are developed and tested together, errors or potential issues are highlighted much earlier in the development process, avoiding problems when changes are deployed. By committing database changes to source control on a regular basis, you can introduce automated builds and tests to make sure that all of those small units of change are tested and validated multiple times before you are ready to deploy to your next environment. This results in releases being more reliable and less time-consuming, and also means you can respond to change a lot faster.
DevOps” continues to be the buzzword across technology departments in Financial Institutions. It means different things to different people, regularly including automation, change management, deployment, continuous delivery, culture change… essentially, an “easy” fix where dev and ops collaborate to save cost, improve productivity and lower risk.
1.Identify the easy.
Identify the easy wins and replicate those changes first. For example, get all your dev and ops teams using a modern version control system like Git, then move forward from there. Even what may feel like minor tasks, like automating a small number of test cases, is a step on the journey.
Even more importantly, don’t forget to share your wins along the way. When seeking to change the culture and earn buy-in across IT and Business teams, good news stories can be excellent sales collateral.
- Get Creative
Despite DevOps being around for many years, there continues to be evolving and innovative ideas and solutions across the industry. Promoting the participation of individuals and encouraging them to try out existing or new techniques or tools can be a great way to reduce skepticism and increase buy-in across departments.
An excellent example of this comes from a client who encouraged application teams to innovate/compete on enhancing application build and deploy techniques. This hands-on and competitive environment greatly improved the interest of the teams and brought out some best practices which then progressed to a roll-out of DevOps tooling.
In business and technology, we will often be at the mercy of elements that we cannot control. The transition to DevOps can mitigate against such risks by aiming for consistency across IT Solutions and Business processes.
It is a common theme across Banks and Financial Institutions where similar tools and solutions are used independently across different functions creating silos, inefficiencies, and cost.
A well thought out and comprehensive DevOps transition plan provides an opportunity to create a set of shared tools. Building this common DevOps foundation where all teams can share best practices, easily access each other’s work in progress, and create optimal workflows and processes will cut through these silos. This standardization and consistency will provide greater flexibility and better understanding.
In the DNA of DevOps culture lies the principle of constant and continuous interaction as well as collaboration between different people and departments. Proper implementation of DevOps shifts the focus from personal effectiveness to team efficiency but changing how teams work in Financial Institutions is seriously hard work.
Bringing people together should be the main goal of DevOps planning as only with good collaboration between teams will it work efficiently.
Properly-implemented DevOps services and strong and regular communication channels make the team’s work more comfortable, efficient and productive. The key outcomes of much greater final efficiency and a much smaller time-to-market make this effort worthwhile.