HSBC has begun a project to move parts of its application development and testing onto Amazon Web Service’s public cloud, according the bank’s head of platforms Marco Pera.
The initiative is part of a concerted drive to bring agile working and devops to the enormous organisation, which can be a daunting process for any international corporation, especially for one that has so many regulatory hurdles to consider.
"We’re using the cloud for development and testing at this point in time, as we adopt new tooling and new technologies, moving to an agile way of working and towards continuous integration and devops," Pera said, speaking with Computerworld UK at the AWS Summit in London this week.
"It is not simple, because not only are we a large and complex organisations," he explained. "You can expect when a company evolves from a more traditional way of creating and deploying, and the teams that are building are different to the teams that are operating, you have to work at it from multiple dimensions. You have to look at the organisational structure you have, and make sure it evolves for the way of working."
But for Pera and HSBC this meant in part giving developers the access to the tools that would be expected of any modern organisation.
At the beginning of the year, HSBC decided on a specific pilot with very aggressive timescales. "We decided to [go with AWS] because it was a fairly risk-free implementation, to use some of the Amazon services to launch it," Pera said.
"We’re also building a lot of product teams, consumption teams and platform teams, and we need to allow them to operate in the way they expect to operate in 2016.
"Our teams demand to work in an agile way, they want to realise their products and services."
Although he would not detail exactly which products HSBC is building on the platform, he hinted that adopting public cloud is part of a bigger picture to retain its competitiveness, and also to experiment with new things, and to get services in front of customers at a quicker rate.
"The benefits we see at the moment are around simplicity, repeatability, and we are able to create development environments in a semi-automated fashion," he said. "We are seeing the quality of the development go up, and there’s transparency in the process.
"And we are able to put together production-quality code on a very frequent basis, which is something we were not able to do before," Pera explained. "So, at the moment, it’s helping our teams to create and develop much faster in a more controlled manner – higher quality, and higher speed to market."
There were, of course, some challenges on the way. As a global company HSBC had to consider all of the regulations in all of the markets it operates in. "We are very respectful of those, and again at the moment, we are only using development and test environments," he said. "As we progress the journey and start introducing those production services, those are also considerations we will have to address."