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An internal banking cloud

Axel Winter | May 25, 2009
Application of a multi-sourcing strategy

During my time in the industry, one of my tasks was to set up a global core banking platform, as a shared service centrally. For this to happen, I also had to manage the setup of two global data centres, with the plan to evolve these towards a global application hosting centre, for service-oriented architecture-based application frameworks. At the time I pursued a multi-sourcing strategy, with project management, enterprise architecture as well as technology subject matter expertise, provided internally, to complement the service provider skills, although the vendors have been multinationals in their own right.

In modern terms, this was an internal banking cloud. Next to the standard implementation issues, in such engagements one of the key challenges was that this specific version of software had limitations on hosting multi-entities within one instance of the software. Now the trick, of course, in cloud computing, is to have as few instances as possible, to manage cost and speed of implementation. Hence we teamed up with the vendor, to address some of these shortcomings and create a better multi-entity platform.

The initial phases meant to get the data centre, servers, and networking ready. I still recall my frustration in working with professional outsourcers and the time and discussion it took to get just an absolute standard infrastructure platform ready: A virtualised mid-range environment with different operating systems, database and Java application server software, plus things such as monitoring, backup, site replication, and basic technical operating processes.

Ready in minutes goal

What struck me most is that I would have expected the mid-range portion to be ready in minutes, and that it should have taken a clean install of all software elements and the banking solution in a few hours. Until today, I am hearing from global infrastructure providers that duplicating a virtual machine, inclusive of all process steps, can take up to one week. Its important to understand that basic computer and storage resources, with standard software, are really a commodity setup and can easily be replicated. Hence my goal of ready in minutes is actually an achievable one.

The reason for such delays is that we are managing commodity items still like a customised product and not like a utility, even if marketing wants us to believe otherwise. Our overall model in IT is focused on a customised way of doing things and not of replicating the best practice.

Few early entrants in the service provider space are proving that ready in minutes is actually possible and by using technologies available today. These companies are introducing slowly, but steadily the next generation of IT to us: IT3.0 The Industrialised Information Technology (iIT), which is about knowledge workers and less about manual labour. Readers well-versed with the industrialisation age 100 years ago should actually find the parallels rather interesting.


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