Union Bank Puts Its Money on DevOps

By Samuel Greengard Print this article Print
DevOps approach

One of the nation's leading financial institutions turns to a DevOps approach to speed development and improve results, enabling it to run IT as a business.

Few industries have felt the impact of digital technology more acutely than banks. In recent years, branches have become smaller, transactions have gone electronic, and apps and other tools have moved into the mainstream. Keeping up with this development environment is daunting.

"There is a need to get things out to the public a lot faster," states Dana Edwards, chief technology officer at MUFG Union Bank, N.A. The 150-year-old institution—which holds $106.7 billion in assets and provides a variety of corporate, commercial, retail banking and wealth management solutions for customers across the United States—has turned to a DevOps approach to achieve a competitive edge.

"We have a need to move very quickly and innovate for our customers," Edwards says. "The traditional approach to IT and development is no longer adequate for today's business environment."

It was no small matter. The bank faced formidable obstacles related to deploying hardware swiftly, configuring IP addresses promptly, and setting up computers and various other systems across offices and branches. In addition, Union Bank was moving too slowly in deploying a virtualized cloud infrastructure across the enterprise.

"We recognized that we had to move away from a waterfall development process and embrace rapid development and releases," Edwards says. One area of focus revolved around highly segregated functions, including software engineering groups, quality assurance teams and a technology operations groups.

"They had entirely different workflows and communications paths," Edwards explains. "Unfortunately, we didn't always have good handoffs, and there wasn't good communication between these groups." Consequently, "one group would do some work, and there would be a pause while another group was reviewing it, thinking about it and executing on it. All these hand-offs led to a lot of work that added no real value."

So far, the bank has pushed out DevOps to more than 700 staff members across IT operations. The focus on agility, communication and collaboration has paid dividends. Using test management tools from CA Technologies, Union Bank has achieved substantial reductions in delivery times and costs—including within its mobile environment.

For example, the IT department is able to run between 100 and 200 percent more tests in a three-to-four-week period than in the past, Edwards reports. It also has realized an 80 percent reduction in the cost of each test and has slashed some provisioning tasks from about a month to as little as 17 minutes.

The DevOps approach requires significant process and cultural changes, including allaying fears about roles and jobs, Edwards points out. As a result, the company started small, recruited those who were among the most enthusiastic, provided a heavy dose of instruction and training, and built on its successes.

"As we eliminated bottlenecks, people began to see the value," he explains. "That created a snowball effect and individuals wanted to get on board."

Edwards sees a bright future ahead as the bank focuses on agility and improved communication and collaboration. "We are only beginning to tap into the DevOps concept," he says. "Our goal is to run IT as a business rather than merely as an application development shop."

This article was originally published on 2014-07-17

Samuel Greengard is a contributing writer for Baseline.

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