For any of you working in the banking and finance sectors today, you’ll know that DevOps is no longer just a buzzword. It delivers quick, secure, and innovative services, especially for banks today in this new digital wave. But implementing DevOps in your organization isn’t just a plug-and-play deal. You’ll need to stay on top of these challenges and trends to find the best solutions for your teams.
In this blog, I’ll be unpacking them below (drawing insight from our 2023 DevOps trends report) to help you master DevOps in banking and finance as a tool for growth, not survival.
Trend 1: Platform engineering
When bringing platform engineering into the equation, integrating DevOps in the banking and finance sectors is tough, thanks to the complexities of existing infrastructures. One of the biggest issues organizations face with this is adapting legacy systems that aren’t suited for the rapid deployment cycles DevOps promotes. While you may simply argue to remove the older tech, these legacy systems are deeply ingrained and essential for day-to-day operations. Banking and finance sectors rely heavily on these antiquated legacy systems, and their integration into a modern DevOps environment has its challenges.
To make things worse, this infrastructure transformation also includes its own issues, as moving towards a flexible, cloud-based infrastructure can conflict with the rigid nature of traditional banking and finance infrastructures.
Trend 2: Automation to orchestration
The path from automation to orchestration is a long one. While process automation’s crucial for efficiency, it’s difficult to implement because of the industry's complex, antiquated systems. Orchestrating workflows in an environment like this demands technical prowess and a deep understanding of the industry's unique needs and constraints.
That’s why consideration must be given to these two implementation strategies (each carrying its own set of risks and rewards):
- The "Big Bang" approach is where sweeping changes are all made simultaneously. It may offer quicker results but poses a higher risk of disruption and failure.
- Incremental adoptions are where adjustments are made gradually over time. They may feel slower, but it allows for more flexibility, learning, and adjustment.
It's also worth noting that while these choices are easy to make, disruptions in the banking industry often carry significant financial implications.
Trend 3: Security and compliance
Having to follow strict security protocols and regulatory compliance can make things difficult. After all, banks are a prime target for cyber threats, which only emphasizes the need for robust security measures. But implementing DevOps requires an Agile environment, which is often seen as being at odds with rigid security practices.
The key lies in balancing agility with security. DevSecOps integrates security into the DevOps pipeline, allowing for continuous security checks and ensuring the development process is maintained with speed and safety. Banks often hold large dedicated units for security and compliance due to the complexity of the subject. Not only that, but a complete shift toward the left may not be feasible due to a number of factors.
But at the end of the day, providing transparency and guidance to obtain the necessary information for compliance and security can bring significant value. When discussing this topic, two main concerns pop up:
- Security: DevOps adoption requires a culture shift towards shared security responsibility, calling for proactive measures to identify vulnerabilities and mitigate risks.
- Compliance: Finance regulations dictate strict standards; incorporating them into the DevOps process can be intimidating. But avoiding penalties and securing customer data is crucial.
Balancing these pressures while sustaining an efficient DevOps model is challenging, as it requires strategic planning, robust tools, and a culture of continuous learning.
Trend 4: Developer Experience and talent
The banking and finance sectors find attracting and retaining skilled DevOps talent especially difficult. The industry’s often seen as rigid and traditional, which puts off anyone that thrives in a more dynamic, innovative environment. As a result, Developer Experience can be negatively impacted.
Cultural barriers in these institutions often stem from resistance to change, which makes adopting new technologies and methodologies like DevOps more difficult. Additionally, closing the skill gap is a concern that will put new talent off, as DevOps requires professionals to be adept in combining operations with software development.
Addressing these challenges takes time and effort and demands a strategic approach that factors both the unique needs of the industry and the evolving expectations of tech professionals. If you want to learn more, Marko Klemetti talked about improving Developer Experience with DevOps, which you can watch here.
Trend 5: Value stream - identifying waste and inefficiencies
Identifying waste and inefficiencies within value streams is vital within banking and finance. With these industries operating in a high-velocity environment, any form of waste or inefficiency can create a crippling domino effect of harmful consequences.
Note: Waste refers to any process, procedure, or practice that does not add value to the final product or service, including redundant steps in a workflow, unnecessary paperwork, duplicated efforts, or miscommunication among teams. Inefficiencies focus more on performance, representing areas where the output does not justify the input (tasks taking longer than necessary, resource overutilization, delays due to poor coordination, etc.).
Value streams in banking are often extensive, as finance impacts nearly all walks of life within Western countries. This leads to complex value streams where the end-user (or primary source of the company's revenue) becomes somewhat obscured. For example, storing money for individuals isn’t the primary revenue generator for banks.
Identifying and pinpointing waste and inefficiencies within these long and intricate value streams allows for strategic reduction or elimination, which fosters a lean thinking culture, enhancing efficiency and cutting costs. The benefits aren’t just financial; they also boost customer satisfaction by delivering value more swiftly and consistently.
How can finance and banking overcome these challenges?
I’ve summarized and ordered them below by their priority and corresponding solutions. Financial institutions can use this list as a roadmap to anticipate, understand, and effectively manage the hurdles to adopting DevOps trends.
Priority, challenge, and overcoming strategy
Priority 1: Security and compliance
Implement DevSecOps for continuous security checks and comply with standards without compromising speed or safety. To do this, organizations should ensure they have (at a minimum):
- Secret detection turned on for repositories, which helps protect sensitive data from being inadvertently exposed.
- Static code analysis enabled, which helps detect potential vulnerabilities in the code.
- Dependency scanning running for all content, which helps identify vulnerabilities in dependencies.
- Role-Based Access Controls (RBAC) enabled, ensuring only authorized individuals can access resources.
Our webinar on “Compliance and security in the DevOps world” discusses the importance of this priority in-depth.
Priority 2: Platform engineering
- Initiate a project to develop methods for easier testing and deployment of legacy systems. Even when dealing with outdated technology, you should find ways to improve the existing process. The goal isn't to discard the old but to integrate it effectively into new methodologies.
- Develop a clear strategy for identifying which applications could be modernized. Some legacy applications may be better suited for a complete rewrite or migration to a more automated and resilient system. This strategy should consider factors like cost, time, compatibility, and the potential benefits of modernization.
- For the remaining applications, focus on automation. Some legacy system parts might need to be suited for a partial overhaul. In these cases, find ways to automate routine tasks, streamline processes, and reduce the manual effort required.
Priority 3: Developer Experience and talent
- Foster an open culture of continuous learning by emphasizing learning as a core value within your organization. Recommend training programs that help developers build skills in DevOps, cloud technology, and cybersecurity skills, and consider platforms like Coursera, Udemy, or LinkedIn Learning that offer a wide range of courses.
- Assess developer experience regularly by conducting frequent developer experience questionnaires to identify pain points and areas of improvement. Use these insights to create a better working environment.
- Analyze your recruitment process and understand the demographics of your recruits. Find out which positions are easy to fill and which aren’t, and study the onboarding practices of areas where recruitment is more straightforward.
- Establish standard work methodologies by implementing frameworks and methodologies all teams can follow (like Agile or Scrum). This will ensure consistency and streamline collaboration across different teams.
Priority 4: Adapting to DevOps trends and industry-specific complications
- Understand your current development landscape by mastering your practices, technologies, and team structures. This will serve as a baseline to measure future improvements.
- Conduct a thorough analysis to identify bottlenecks in your current development process, such as inefficiency, skill gaps, or outdated practices.
- Based on these identified bottlenecks, seek guidance from external experts. This could involve hiring consultants, partnering with specialized firms, or sending staff for further training.
- Revise your DevOps adoption strategy, which should be a living document that’s continually updated to reflect changing circumstances and feedback.
Priority 5: Automation to orchestration
If you still need to resolve this by optimizing Developer Experience, waste management, and development pipelines, consider the benefits of outsourcing. After all, non-core applications may be managed better with external expertise.
For core applications, you should have identified whether an incremental change or 'Big Bang' approach is more suitable for enhancing your value creation pipeline based on the analysis and improvements implemented in previous sections. This tailored strategy aligns with your organization's unique needs, balancing risk with potential reward.
By iterating on previous improvements and considering the core value of each application, banks and financial institutions can better navigate the path from automation to orchestration.
Priority 6: Identifying waste and inefficiencies
- Gauge your developers' experiences and understand the nuances of your development process.
- Align this understanding with what brings value to your company.
- Develop specific metrics to pinpoint the most wasteful moments in this value-creation process.
- Tackle these identified inefficiencies first, steadily moving towards a more lean and efficient operation.
As I discussed in this blog, implementing DevOps in the banking and finance sector involves many challenges, including platform engineering, orchestration, security, talent management, and efficiency optimization. Overcoming these hurdles is essential for a smooth digital transformation.
Despite the intricate nature of this journey, adopting DevOps brings substantial opportunities to foster innovation, enhance agility, and boost efficiency, ultimately contributing to the industry's growth.
Published: August 29, 2023