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How Goldman Sachs and Bank of America use the cloud and containers

Brandon Butler | Dec. 10, 2015
Security conscious financial services firms are investing heavily into new technologies.

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J Ram, managing director at Goldman Sachs (left) and Ryan Thomas, head of architecture and technology strategy at Bank of America speak at the Tectonic Summit in New York in December.

Goldman Sachs – considered by many to be the gold standard in the financial services world – has been on a six-year journey to embrace cloud computing, which has culminated in about 85% of the company’s workloads now operating in a cloud framework, says J Ram, managing director at the bank who heads up its cloud platform business unit.

As companies like Goldman Sachs and Bank of America become more comfortable operating in the cloud, there are even more changes on the horizon. Officials from these financial giants say they’re now focused on exploring what benefits application containers can bring to their environments too.

These financial institutions operate at a huge scale: Goldman Sachs has 8,000 developers overseeing 4,500 apps. At Bank of America there are about 17,500 developers, 12,500 support staff and about 9,000 infrastructure workers. Officials from each company recently spoke at the Tectonic Summit in New York, hosted by application container company CoreOS.

Containers have swept across the cloud and application development market rapidly in the past 18 months as a way to package applications or app components. Ram says the goal of using containers at Goldman is to think about application development, infrastructure management and operations along a single continuum.

“Prior to this, we had to force things into a way that seemed like a continuum,” Ram said. “(Containers) allow infrastructure folks to start optimizing the platform, application teams to think about application delivery and operation teams to think about operational scale and handling that complexity.” Ram said Goldman Sachs already has some production workloads running in containers.

Ryan Thomas, head of architecture and technology strategy at Bank of America, says container usage is being explored extensively. There are dozens of test and development environments using containers now and he expects there will be hundreds by next year.

For Thomas, containers represent a way to get the company’s developers and infrastructure workers to focus on the highest-value work. Too much time is spent on managing middleware systems and messaging buses that don’t add value for the bank. “Simplifying that and really flipping ratios of people who are just maintaining, supporting, managing applications, to people who are pushing the applications forward and bringing more value for our customers is the foundation of the goal,” he says. “It’s not about cost reduction, it’s about reinvesting the people and the talent we have to really business value added things for our customers.”

 

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