Banking on devops: some banks are getting it right

How do banks that traditionally apply changes less than ten times a year move to continuous delivery? Devops is the answer, but culture and legacy systems are the challenge.

Bank vault

Banks, especially retail banks, have to be very risk-averse, especially when it comes to their IT ecosystems. For anyone who has ever worked in IT at retail banks, their deployment model is notorious. Firstly, system changes are implemented six to ten times a year, usually with a “freeze” over periods of high retail activity, such as Christmas and Thanksgiving.

Secondly, the movement from development to finally entering production is a long and slow path; some banks have as many as three preproduction environments, where the changes can sit for up to a month before progressing to the next environment. Finally, despite all these precautions, system failures once the changes are applied to the production environment are disturbingly high, with predictably adverse reactions from the bank’s customers and the potential of financial loss.

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