DevOps and continuous delivery: How much is hype versus reality?

QA Financial chaired a panel at this year’s SIBOS conference in Geneva on what DevOps really means for banks. On the panel: Elaine Friedman (pictured) from BNY Mellon, as well as experts from UBS, Bank of Montreal and Red Hat. And you can watch the video recording of the panel below (approx 1 hour).

The topics of DevOps and continuous app delivery have made it onto the agenda at SIBOS, organised by Swift, the bank payments consortium and by some measures the leading financial technology conference in the world.

Reflecting the wariness banks hold for new technologies, the panel QA Financial was asked to chair at SIBOS was titled: “DevOps and Continuous Delivery: Hype vs Reality”. But the underlying issues were clear enough. Is DevOps really the way to deliver apps faster? And is DevOps appropriate for the highly-regulated environment of banks?

On the panel alongside QA Financial’s editor, Matthew Crabbe, were Elaine Friedman, managing director of global product planning, analysis and strategic support at BNY Mellon Treasury Services; Lee Fulmer, managing director for the investment bank COO office at UBS; Jay Pickett, director of wire payment and correspondent banking operations at the Bank of Montreal and Jan Wildeboer, EMEA open source evangelist at North Carolina-based Red Hat.

You can watch the video recording of the panel session in full below.

For UBS’s Lee Fulmer, DevOps is the kind of buzzword suggested by the panel’s title. “There is nothing new about DevOps,” he said. “What is happening is a return to a more holistic, original model of development where developers undertook a wide range of responsibilities without the over-specialisation we see now.”

Red Hat’s Jan Wildeboer disagreed. DevOps is the natural result of the move from architectured siloes to a more distributed approach, he said; a transition made possible by the growing importance of software over hardware. While this new, fast-paced, approach to software development is usually associated with firms Netflix or Amazon, some banks are now at the forefront in  implementing, said Wildeboer.

Elaine Friedman at BNY Mellon cautioned that while there are similarities in the  way  DevOps is being implemented in different industry verticals, banks do also have some fundamental constraints that differentiate them; notably the supervision of app development by regulators, the burden of legacy systems, plus the higher cost of technical failure.

Banks are complex and sometimes fragmented businesses, said Bank of Montreal’s Jay Pickett. They have different divisions for different banking functions. They are sometimes the result of a series of mergers of different firms. They have to think about how they deliver apps that service very different functions and so they find it hard to be nimble in the way DevOps environments demand. How, asked, Pickett, do you make sure that everyone is collaborating, especially when it comes to necessary compliance with anti-money laundering and other regulatory requirements?

Also covered in the full video of the panel session: how various technologies could help the push towards DevOps, the appropriateness of open source versus proprietary tools, and the role of automation.

 

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