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French bank Societe Generale (SocGen) has deployed an Oracle database as a service (DBaas) environment to automate delivery of zettabytes of data to its 1,600 developers, freeing up admin staff from manual tasks.

French bank Societe Generale (SocGen) has deployed an Oracle database as a service (DBaas) environment to automate delivery of zettabytes of data to its 1,600 developers, helping free admin staff from manual tasks.

The company’s database administrator (DBA) team had previously received complaints over poor service delivery quality. With 70,000 database refreshes each year sending 14 zettabyes of data across its network, this put huge strain on storage arrays in SocGen’s development and testing environments. 

“We had gone off the rails. We can’t say we won’t refresh the data - this is absolutely critical to development teams to test their applications before production,” said Christian Bilien, global head of database teams, Societe Generale, addressing delegates at Oracle OpenWorld.

“We wanted to improve the quality of of our delivery because it was not good.” 

The company began a pilot DBaas system in April this year, using Oracle Enterprise Manager Cloud Control 12c to allow self service of database resources, with refreshes now conducted in under 15 minutes.

The platform runs on an internal VBlock private cloud, consisting of EMC storage, Cisco networking and servers, and VMware virtualisation.

Bilien said that the introduction DBaas is helping the bank as it adopts to a DevOps approach, breaking down silos within the IT teams and offer continuous delivery to developers.

“We are now working as more of a broker of services rather than delivering the service - that is how position ourselves,” he said.

“We really started with a lot of difficulties and we managed to turn it into a number of opportunities.”

For example, the administrative teams are now freed up to working on more productive jobs.

“I would like the DBAs to do the design, to help the application designers, to data warehousing, which they also want to do. But one of the problems that we have had is that they were doing manual tasks with little added value for a large part of the day. It is just a lack of efficient processes which leads to this kind of situation.”

Bilien said that a lot of investment banks are running DBaas systems that they have built themselves. The main reason why SocGen uses OEM is that it already runs the majority of 5,000 databases on the software. 

“So it makes things very easy when we want to enhance the service we are delivering to go through OEM because it is already there,” he said, adding that it offers the self-service and snapshot capabilities required by teams.

Following an assessment beginning at the end of 2013 and an pilot in April this year, the system is now set to go live more widely throughout the bank.

“We are coming out of the pilot phase, and we are now in Q4 going to expand this to most of the projects within the bank.”