Simplification means consolidation too. Thomas says Bank of America has condensed from 64 data centers last year to 31 this year. It plans to have only eight data centers by the end of 2016. Part of that is gained by efficiencies in infrastructure and operations, but both Goldman Sachs and Bank of America are also using public cloud resources too. Thomas says Bank of America uses the public cloud for non-security sensitive workloads. Goldman is using the public cloud in a “secure bubble” for certain workloads, Ram says.
None of this has been easy though. Thomas says Bank of America’s IT footprint has been “cobbled together” from various mergers and acquisitions, such as Merrill Lynch falling under the BoA brand in 2009. “Don’t underestimate the complexity you already have in your operating environment,” says Ram, echoing the point. Figuring out how existing operational tooling, legacy source code and configuration management processes are integrated into a new world of cloud and containers has been a massive challenge. Not to mention, the industry is maturing quickly.
When operating at the scale these companies are, people get zeroed in on optimizing for their specific environment and not looking at the big picture, Thomas says. The key is to focus on changes that can impact a wide audience. It’s easy to focus on the shiny new toy that will impact less than 1% of operations, but a strategic investment that creates a 5% boost in efficiency across an organization is much more impactful. Staying focused and not trying to “boil the ocean” by doing too much is a difficult balance to strike though, Thomas says.
As financial service companies, security is of paramount concern too for Ram and Thomas. “As you move into a container world… you’re moving more and more into a world that hasn’t been vetted with the compliance and regulatory environments, and that’s a challenge for us, and that’s always somewhat of a lag for us,” Thomas says. With that being said, Thomas says containers have real promise at the institution, it’s just a matter of ensuring they’re safe to use and integrate with the bank’s operations.
Ram says the technology is the easy part. “It’s not the technology that’s going to stop you, it’s the organization and the organizational culture that’s going to stop you a lot more.”
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