Capital One: A DevOps Powerhouse
A look at how Capital One is moving it's entire IT department towards DevOps as few financial companies are.
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A recent blog post by My Krandal shares Capital One’s strategic move toward innovation, DevOps and open source. Positioning as an industry “startup” — the relatively young bank, clocking in at 20 years old (as compared to the next youngest bank at over 100) is indeed an upstart. As Topo Pal, director of Capital One’s next-generation infrastructure elaborated in his keynote address, Capital One’s public secret to innovative success is “a relatively small technology organization that is committed to disrupting the credit card industry” (see Topo Pal’s talk here). In this case, disruption means nothing less than a full-scale shift away from current notion of credit cards to a fully digitalized banking, wallet-free. In line with trending customer preference toward mobile usage, rapidly overtaking standard web browsing as the preferred channel for banking, Capital One aims to capture the digital banking market of the future with a totally new personal finance products tailored to customers’ lifestyles and needs. Internally, that transformation will be driven by a change in core corporate practices, driven by “data, technology, and data science.”
At the center of Capital One’s internal recalibration is a move away from the “mostly outsourced, waterfall model,” shackled to “quarterly releases from manual processes for building, testing, and deployment,” toward a new DevOps model that will automate, and thereby streamline, the build process. Early results suggest massive potential: the first trial DevOps team at Capital One reduced the development process “from days to minutes,” spurring on plans for an “enterprise-wide strategy.” The outcome, DevOpsSec, reconfigures Capital One’s development, business, operations, and information security stakeholders into optimal alignment within a code-based pipeline:
Code > Build > Deploy+Test Execution > Release Monitor
The inspiration for this innovative reorientation lies at the heart of the tech industry’s DevOps pioneers; in the words of Capital One chairman and CEO Richard Fairbank, “the winners in banking must have the capabilities of a world-class software company.” In pursuing this vision, Capital One’s corporate leaders have taken DevOps “beyond just process.” For example, the challenge of “building a server in their datacenter” led to “next-gen infrastructure using a public cloud and internal cloud, while they also developed their own open source tool, a DevOps dashboard called Hygieia intended to track the progress and health of their pipeline” And Topo Pal, even the innovator, promises more revolutionary switches to come.
Furthermore, Capital One has made it a company policy to optimize open-source-coding, both internally and for new vendors. Reasons proliferate, some more utopian than others. In Topo Pal’s words, open-source is simply “the right thing to do,” “to give back to the community and be a part of it.”
Not coincidentally, Pal notes that open-source also nurtures a “culture of continuous experimentation and learning” and proves “essential for DevOps adoption and making better software.”
At the end of the day, Capital One’s success comes down to delivering on development. A few revealing stats from the blog:
100s of code commits per day
Integration from once a month to every 15 minutes
QA from once per month to 4 times per day
Deployment from manual to completely automated
Production release from monthly/quarterly to once per sprint
This is not mere legerdemain; Capital One’s way of thinking is not just do things different, but to do them better. Who will follow suit?
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