DevOps offers a number of valuable benefits to companies in the financial services industry. From increasing application release frequency to improved communications, the benefits of DevOps are far reaching and battle tested.
DevOps constitutes a culture rather than a specific product or technology, and effecting cultural change is usually difficult. For that reason, migrating to DevOps can be challenging. This is especially true for large organizations in established industries, including financial services, which already have strongly embedded legacy software delivery practices in place.
Yet the fact that adopting DevOps may be difficult for these organizations does not mean that DevOps migration is not worth the effort for them. On the contrary, DevOps can pay enormous dividends for companies in sectors like finance.
Unique Finance Market Challenges
If DevOps brings so many benefits to the financial services industry, why haven’t more companies adopted DevOps techniques? The answer is that the industry is subject to several factors that can make DevOps adoption particularly challenging. They include:
A High Need for Stability, Security, and Compliance
More so than in many other industries, financial services companies require software that is highly stable and secure in order to keep their customers’ information safe and meet regulatory requirements. For this reason, adopting DevOps practices such as continuous delivery can be challenging, because they increase the rate at which software changes, and organizations need to update their testing procedures in order to keep pace.
The financial services sector was among the first to adopt digital technology. While that is a strength in one respect, it also means that some of the IT systems that companies in this industry use are decades old. Adapting legacy applications to DevOps workflows can be difficult if companies do not have efficient testing solutions in place to ensure that those applications remain stable when delivery techniques change.
The Cloud Dynamic
One of the major drivers for DevOps in financial enterprises is the adoption of cloud computing. The financial services industry is spending billions of dollars on building private clouds and using public cloud SaaS and PaaS (or private/public hybrid) solutions. This trend started in backend, general-purpose systems, with HR, CRM, and office services using popular SaaS platforms and services like Microsoft’s Office 360 or Azure.
Now more financial services providers are taking advantage of cloud platforms for data intelligence and analytics, using cloud storage services, and building test platforms in the cloud. Worldwide spending on public cloud services could double from almost $70 billion in 2015 to more than $141 billion in 2019, according to research firm IDC. And in the financial services industry alone, the average number of cloud services used per organization is 30, per recent research bySkyhigh Networks.
Cloud computing growth within the financial services industry is among the fastest in the industry, and this growth is a key enabler to DevOps success.
Unique Finance Market Benefits
DevOps practices and methodologies can help solve a number of challenges that are of particular concern to the financial services industry.
The financial services sector is highly competitive. A full 18 percent of millennials switched their primary bank in the last 12 months, according to a recent Accenture survey.
In an age when most financial services customers rely on technology to access and manage accounts, an important component of attracting and keeping clients is having the best software. DevOps helps companies by enabling them to build better software faster, push updates to users quickly, and adapt easily to changing user demands and stay ahead of competitors.
DevOps offers particular advantages to companies seeking to stay relevant as more and more computing shifts to mobile devices. Because mobile platforms are so diverse, writing and testing software for mobile devices in an efficient way is impossible without taking advantage of the agile delivery techniques that define DevOps.
Keeping up-to-date with ever-changing regulatory policies requires the ability to adapt quickly as compliance priorities change. That is difficult to do for organizations whose software delivery chains are large and inflexible because they have not adopted DevOps.
DevOps mitigates compliance challenges in several ways. First, by streamlining the development and deployment of software, DevOps ensures that companies can update their software quickly whenever compliance needs change.
Second, DevOps maximizes the flexibility of the software development and deployment frameworks that a company uses. It makes applications portable between different types of infrastructure and allows developers to change from one programming framework to another without overhauling their entire operation. This agility is important for meeting changes in regulatory policies that might occur.
Third, DevOps maximizes visibility. By streamlining communication between all members of the IT organization and breaking down silos that limit the ability of one part of the team to understand what others are doing, DevOps makes it easy for organizations to identify compliance issues within their software before they come to the attention of auditors.
Establishing an IT governance policy is easy. Enforcing it is generally much more difficult, especially in established companies with entrenched workflows and siloed IT operations.
Adopting DevOps enables much better governance enforcement. It encourages and facilitates collaboration between developers, IT Ops teams and quality assurance engineers so that all parts of the organization can work together in implementing governance goals.
Financial services is among the industries most likely to face cyber attacks, according to IBM, and the cost of such attacks—which includes loss of brand value, intellectual property theft, regulatory fines, and more—is more than $200 per affected record, according to Symantec. Symantec also reports that the number of records stolen in recent cyber attacks has been in the tens of millions, and the total cost of these attacks can be staggeringly high. For this reason, security should be a top priority for companies in the financial services industry.
DevOps can help these companies achieve their security goals. By maximizing agility, DevOps empowers organizations to keep their software up-to-date and adopt the development tools and frameworks that are most secure.
A number of major financial services companies, including Capital One, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Fannie Mae, USAA, Fidelity, and Intuit, have already embraced DevOps. Regardless of the type of hardware or software or cloud a company uses, the stability or compliance goals it needs to meet, or the nature of the competition it faces, DevOps is crucial to staying agile and relevant today.