Long reads

Cloud Makeover: How has cloud migration changed Deutsche Bank?

Sehrish Alikhan

Sehrish Alikhan

Reporter, Finextra

In our first Cloud Makeover case study, we spoke with experts from National Australian Bank (NAB) on their developments in the cloud and their migration process. For our second piece in the series, Finextra spoke with Gordon Mackechnie, chief technology officer at Deutsche Bank, to uncover the impacts of their cloud journey.

Mackechnie details that the German banking giant employs a multi-vendor cloud approach, using different providers for the various cloud use cases, including Google Cloud Platform (GCP) for public cloud, Oracle for databases in a private cloud environment, and Microsoft for end-user technologies. Mackechnie emphasises that using multiple providers for separate workloads makes their cloud approach distinct and keeps their application processes organised.

“When I talk about using different providers for different purposes, I think it's really important that you leverage the sweet spot of the cloud provider to do what the provider is really good at,” Mackechnie states.

Deutsche Bank places a significant amount of importance on data management, hence their choice to use GCP for the bulk of their applications. “Data is very much at the core of what we do. We felt that the range of capabilities Google offered in particular with respect to large scale global data, lends itself well to our usage.”

The use of multiple providers allows Deutsche Bank to pick and choose vendors to utilise what they do best and apply that on their platforms. The hybrid approach prioritises gaining the most value from each provider and allows more movement for flexibility in the bank’s cloud transformation.

On how Deutsche Bank has facilitated a smooth integration of cloud services, Mackechnie observes that many standard control processes had to be rewritten to incorporate the cloud. To leverage the benefits of the transition, in the datacentres and apps, they needed to work with third-parties and take steps forward with caution. As a regulated entity, Deutsche Bank designs its journey based on legislation and data privacy laws.

“There has been an impact as we look at how we run core IT processes for operational and control perspectives, making sure we can operate at an efficient pace to allow the cloud benefits to be realised. What's also happening is that we are taking some of those benefits and bringing it back to our private cloud on-prem environment, which is accumulated through learning some better ways to leverage the cloud; let’s see how that influences the legacy we have on premise.”

Specifically, Deutsche Bank is looking into provisioning; defining and streamlining techniques to deploy a seamless cloud infrastructure service.

On the major challenges within the bank’s cloud migration process, Mackechnie comments that reworking how they think through compliance strategies is significant. “When thinking more broadly about the challenges in the cloud migration process, we have been very successful in building new functionalities and apps directly in the cloud, but it is trickier where you migrate existing applications. I think building new technology and developing techniques is somewhat easier than migrating old to new.”

A notable difference after migrating to the cloud, for Deutsche Bank, has been the effect had on the developer community, Mackechnie mentions. The transition has empowered development teams and placed more control in the hands of developers rather than infrastructure teams, which allows for a faster pace and more efficient control processes. He adds that the bank is also starting to reap the benefits of improved stability provided by the public cloud resulting in the elimination of background noise caused by smaller issues in the environment.

“Overall, we want to develop software in a way that's in line with the best practice in our industry. How we get closer to allowing our developers to work in that way is massively important for us, and from an employee proposition perspective as well. People talk about the global fight for talent; it's definitely real. An important part of that is the environment that you give someone to work in, from both a people and a technical perspective. A key part of achieving that is to get closer to the ‘born in the cloud’ way of working.”

When asked how they would approach their cloud migration process differently if they had to start again from scratch, Mackechnie says that there are many small things that would have helped, but overall they are making steady progress. He notes that more financial clarity would have been handy, along with ensuring that they were on top of leveraging their data, but he continues that there were only “a few wrinkles” that could have been ironed out.

It is clear that cloud will have a significant role in shaping the future of banks. Mackechnie explains that “the integration of banking services at the point of need, across any range of our broad cross-section of customers, and how we interact with them, will definitely be heavily influenced by the cloud. How we can integrate those services effectively for corporate customers is obviously going to be very important. Our ability to integrate new technologies, particularly in the data and AI space, is clearly accelerated in a cloud environment and the demand within our businesses for access to those technologies is definitely going to continue to grow. That brings with it challenges of how we manage that, but I think overall that will have a big impact.”

On what sets Deutsche Bank apart from other financial institutions that are mid-transition to the cloud, Mackechnie summarises, is their heavy aspirations and ambitions to demonstrate their control over data, and supreme protection of consumer data.

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