Metro Bank slashes production time with Rackspace managed cloud

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Image: Wikimedia Commons

Chief Technical Officer David Young tells Computerworld UK that upgrading the bank's infrastructure and switching over to Metro Bank has made a world of difference to production and operations

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New high street bank Metro Bank has picked Rackspace as its managed cloud provider, and in doing so has significantly reduced the time to deploy new services.

According to David Young, the CTO of Metro Bank, the organisation began looking at vendors in 2014. The project was underway by the middle of the year and it took another 12 months to complete. "It was delivered on time, and on budget, and we were very happy with it," Young says, speaking with Computerworld UK. "We were with a different hosting solution, so that was moved – all of the applications from one data centre provider over to Rackspace."

The bank also took it as an opportunity to upgrade almost all of its infrastructure, including physical and virtual servers, to make best use of the available technology at the time.

"We recognised that our previous partner wouldn't necessarily have the flexibility and the scalability we needed to grow the bank the way we wanted to," Young says. "We also recognised that there was quite significant benefit in new hardware. We were looking for a partner – a hosting partner is such a critical component of an IT operation, particularly one like ours, where we tend to use partners more than some other institutions."

Rackspace hosts the majority of Metro Bank's core banking systems. "Approximately 70 percent of our applications are hosted by Rackspace," Young says. "We also use other cloud solutions – so we use different hosting options depending on the applications, but our core banking systems if you will, they're all hosted in Rackspace."

According to Young, the clearest benefits are in time reduction – overnight processes that used to take four hours went down to under two hours "pretty much overnight".

"There's certain applications the financial modelling team use – what would have taken an hour now takes less than 20 minutes," he says. "Certainly our customers have seen the benefits. Login speeds to our digital platforms, particularly on our mobile apps, have significantly improved after we went live.

"What's important to me as we grow is I want to focus on being able to deliver amazing propositions for our customers and colleagues – what Rackspace does for me is ensure that we have capability to scale as we grow, so we don't have to worry about [constraints], that's one of the key benefits from the relationship."

The Rackspace contract has helped Metro Bank take a more devops-led approach and Young says developers at the bank are more than happy with the new setup. "And in fact on any given day we'd probably have one, two, possibly more of the Rackspace team sat with our operations team," he says. "So if we need anything done like a firewall change we have all the people sat together, in the same building, on the same floor, working together. It's a really critical component for us to be able to do things quickly."

Naturally, this chimes with the businesses' innovations strategy – everything the company does, Young says, has an underlying IT element to it.

"We're in the process of launching new digital components that went live with our commercial internet banking platform very recently," he says. "We will go live with the new mobile banking app in the new year, and Rackspace underpins that for us.

"One of the things that we are really clear on is we want to be able to innovate at speed – we put out our solutions quite quickly and in order to be able to do that we need internal agility and flexibility, but we also need that same flexibility from our partners."

Young cites a recent example when the bank needed to change 1,400 lines of code – on Friday. "They were done over the weekend for us," he says. "There may not be that many other partners that will have the responsiveness we need like that. We move at a significant pace, thankfully Rackspace are able to move at that pace."

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