Westpac today announced it has implemented an offsite private cloud environment in 'an Australian banking first'.
The move is a major milestone in the bank’s hybrid-platform-as-a-service (HPaaS) strategy, said chief information officer Dave Curran, in which hundreds of business applications will shift to the cloud, both public and private.
Some 30 applications have shifted to cloud since the middle of last year, but the new offsite private cloud means more processes can now be moved and at a faster rate.
“We’ve seen a massive reduction in the time it takes to set-up and host applications, with a 40 per cent saving in set-up costs from start to deployment of an application. What historically took weeks is now automated and happens in hours. For example service provisioning has gone from two to four months to two to four hours and application installation will be reduced from months to hours,” Curran said.
Regulatory applications, systems relating to Open Banking and the bank’s customer service hub are soon set to make the shift. Application deployment, infrastructure provisioning and network connectivity is now available on demand, with all aspects treated as code.
The bank said 70 per cent of applications would be cloud based within the next three years, and 100 per cent within a decade. Already the cloud strategy has meant 100 previously manual tasks have been automated.
“It has been a big and complex project. To be technically ready to deliver an infrastructure platform of the future is a monumental achievement for Westpac and a testament to the people who worked tirelessly to make it happen,” he added.
The offsite private cloud was built and is operated by IBM, and situated in two data centres in Australia.
The effort to stand up the solution without affecting the bank’s everyday operations was like “changing engines in flight” said IBM’s managing director for Westpac Piet Bil.
“We’re very proud that we were able to help the first bank in Australia in bringing such an environment live. It is a state of the art, VMWare based, dual site solution. The challenges for us were making make sure that we delivered something that is fully compliant given the regulatory environment of Australia,” Bil told CIO Australia.
“It’s a balance of being a solid provider, giving the latest technologies, and bringing it all together for the bank in an integrated way. It had to be in a way the bank can consume.”
Similar strategies are underway at major banks around the world. Bil said he expected more financial institutions locally to follow suit.
“All clients are on the journey. I think Westpac just took a very bold step, led by Dave Curran and the board, to say we’re going to do it and we’re going to do it full blown and stick to the strategy. With all these technology changes it requires real leadership and stamina and it comes with ups and downs. These things are very complex but I do expect multiple banks to follow,” Bil said.
HPaaS is a core element of Westpac's platform strategy; which includes Panorama for BT, its Customer Service Hub, a payments platform, digital platform and Big Data platform.
Curran said the shift to hybrid cloud brings a “unified agile platform” that will reduce complexity, inefficiencies and cost while ensuring the bank responds to customer needs rapidly.
“This is a vital step in our hybrid cloud strategy, vastly accelerating speed to market and continuing to offer customers the service they need, want, and expect,” he said.