How DevOps is changing the Financial Industry

The second DevOps Enterprise Summit (DOES) Europe, once again held in London, brought together the DevOps enterprise community. The financial industry was well represented, giving the attendees a unique perspective on the challenges facing this heavily regulated industry and how DevOps is helping to overcome them.

One of DOES’ main goals is to gather high-fidelity experience reports and to gather evidence that negate the objections to the adoption of DevOps in an enterprise environment. The set of presentations by large financial institutions highlighted their common challenges: legal, compliance, security requirements and the prevailing bureaucratic and siloed culture of such organizations. The approaches taken to tackle those challenges also have commonalities: automated continuous delivery pipelines; lean approaches and organization alignment based on value streams; automated testing; automated compliance and security checks; close collaboration with legal and compliance departments. Some organizations are also moving away from outsourcing and into insourcing.

SIX is a financial company that operates the infrastructure underpinning the Swiss financial sector, among other financial services. It is a striking example of a successful DevOps transformation in the finance industry both organizationally – it is reshaping itself by aligning to its value streams – and technically. For example, its ATM network relies on container management of smaller services, with automated test and deployment.

Robert Scherrer, head of application engineering, highlighted the 5+1 dimensions of DevOps at SIX. People have to adapt their skills to become Π-shaped: great in one specialty, familiar with others, learning a new area. The organization has to move from functional to cross-functional teams. The justification for a process must be well-grounded or else it must be adapted or eliminated. Infrastructure provisioning must be automated. Software systems architecture must be well scoped and based on APIs. To enable those five dimensions, the right mindset and attitude is mandatory. To enable and speed up DevOps adoption, SIX uses gamification approaches (Haka awards) and teams present every few weeks their new achievements in front of a large audience.

SIX puts a lot of effort on simplifying processes. It uses value-stream mapping to eliminate waste by removing unnecessary steps. IT works closely with compliance officers and auditors to ensure that internal regulations are not more burdensome than required by public laws and regulations.

Capital One, a very large bank in the US, started the journey in earnest in 2014. It started with a waterfall process, closed source software and lots of manual processes. It was organized around vertical silos and was mostly outsourced. Over the past three years, it reorganized around agile processes, insourced its development and eliminated the silos. “Topo” Pal, product manager at Capital One, explained how they built a fully automated pipeline, moved to the cloud and open sourced parts of its software, most famously Hygieia. Hygieia dashboards allows the organization to measure key metrics such as the time from commit to production. The deployment pipeline features 16 gates, including vulnerability scans, automated change orders and auto provisioning of immutable servers.

Capital One is planning to open source a secure and compliant pipeline model, based on LGTM, which helps to implement a model with around 30 practices to satisfy audit and compliance.

In our industry we specialize in placing technology professionals with financial institutions in need of network engineers and developers. Our clients understand the shift of technological influence and integrate that into their trading systems. For more specific information take a look at the job opportunity listed below. Let us know what you think about the financial industry’s relationship with DevOps engineers and if you’re interested in working for a Hedge Fund or Investment Company give us a call.


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