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How Do You Fit a Core Banking System into a Few Containers? Insight from DOES EU 17

| by Daniel Bryant Follow 147 Followers on Aug 10, 2017. Estimated reading time: 5 minutes |

At the DevOps Enterprise Summit EU 2017, held in London, InfoQ sat down with Amine Boudali and Jose Quaresma and discussed key insights from their presentation "How Do You Fit a Core Banking System into a Few Containers?"

Boudali, senior project manager at Nordea, and Quaresma, DevOps lead at Accenture DK, discussed the benefits and challenges of using container technology during a recent digital transformation at Nordea Group, the largest financial services group in Northern Europe. Key takeaways from the discussion included: use of public cloud for a core banking system is still somehow highly controversial, and the aim of the Nordea initiative was to prove the feasibility of the platform; in regard to the success of a transformation project, the one metric that matters could be adoption rate; it was not overly difficult to containerise the existing Oracle software, and the stateful data resides within an external persistent volume mounted into a container.

The full transcript of the interview can be read below:

InfoQ: Welcome to InfoQ! You talked at DOES EU 17 about "How Do You Fit a Core Banking System into a Few Containers", which was part of the work undertaken for Nordea's Core Banking Programme (CBP). Could you explain a little about the motivations and goals for this programme please? What were the key takeaways for attendees?

CBP is a major component of the current simplification journey undertaken by Nordea, which is currently the largest transformation in European banking. CBP is delivering a common solution to support transaction banking, deposit taking, lending, mortgages, and global cash management. By leveraging Temenos' T24 as a core banking platform, CBP is focused on delivering incremental and frequent value with the aim of enabling early business value realization and avoiding a big bang approach.

During this presentation, we shared our own journey: where we started; how we started; and where we are now. In addition to a walkthrough of how we addressed the main challenges we faced by combining different technologies and concepts to create accelerators for ensuring a quick time to market and quality products.

InfoQ: With the rise in popularity of public cloud platforms and PaaS, what are the key data and decision points for an organization in regard to building an internal platform or buying/renting a external platform?

In our situation, public cloud for a core banking system is still somehow highly controversial. Accordingly, the aim of our initiative is to prove the feasibility of the platform while keeping in mind how to seamlessly transition to a public/hybrid cloud at a later stage.

From a personal perspective, we see the purpose of the application targeted for these platforms as a major factor. Here we can include aspects such as workload, usage patterns and business functionality. Another key decision point is the maturity of the platform at hand: are we talking about an early introduction of the platform where changes are needed or are we in a stable phase? This is of course a simplistic view over an analysis that can take months to conclude and where every company will have its own drivers.

InfoQ: What type of metrics/KPIs should an organisation be tracking before and during any migration towards a new platform (either internal or via public cloud)? What is the 'one metric that matters' that indicates an organisation has been successful?

Apart from the usual suspects such as cost, maintainability, and sexiness, if we were forced to choose one metric that matters, we would choose adoption rate. If you succeed in migrating to the new platform and other customers are knocking at your doors to get their application on-boarded, then you should pat yourself on the back; it's proof that you have done a good job and the people want of a piece of that success.

InfoQ; We don't hear much about containerising existing Oracle software (although Oracle are doing interesting work in the container space). What was your experience of this, and how did you manage stateful services?

That is a very good point, and we are well aware that having Oracle software running in containers is not the best use case for a containerised application. Our goal was to see how far we could take the T24 core banking platform with the technology stack currently being used. In our experience, it was not overly difficult to containerise the Oracle software, but it does have its downsides, and we talked about some of those in the presentation. However, as for how we managed the stateful components within of the application, CBP's data resides in the database and we handled that by saving the data of the database container in a persistent volume.

InfoQ: In summary, how relevant do you believe DevOps is to modern organisations looking to move faster? In your experience, what is more important in a typical enterprise space: the need for organisational change, or technological change?

It is paramount. We see DevOps as not only bringing change to the technology aspect of transformations, but complementing that with a process and ultimately a cultural change.

We believe the importance of the organisational or technological change is dictated by the maturity of the organisation in which the change is happening. Modern organisations are typically already using modern technologies, in which case they are able to leverage these to enable and maximise the benefits of their organisational change.

Organisations with, shall we say, a certain amount baggage, might be considering a revamp of the technological estate and getting the basics right before investing time on organisational change. However, sometimes an organisational change might be necessary to start changing a company's culture in order to trigger a technological change.

InfoQ: Many thanks for your time today. Is there anything else you would like to share with the InfoQ readers?

We would definitely encourage them to take a look at the YouTube video of the session given at the DevOps Enterprise Summit and also reach out if they have any questions or comments we could help addressing.

Additional details about the DevOps Enterprise Summit London 2017 conference can be found on the event website. Video recordings of conference session can be found on the IT Revolution YouTube channel, and the slide decks within the DevOps Enterprise GitHub repository.

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