Banking on containers to accelerate application development in financial services firms

IT moves fast, and there’s always something new to investigate, develop, test and implement. For a risk-averse and increasingly competitive industry like financial services – which is undergoing seismic changes, thanks to digital technology – it can be a challenge to keep up. Linux containers can help bridge gaps between the developer and operations teams so they can create and deploy applications more efficiently.

Recently, I wrote an article on containers and the benefits they can bring to the financial services industry for International Banker. In it, I define what containers are, describe how financial services firms can benefit from them, and break down the technical details. I’m going to summarize the key points in this post, but do read The Benefits of Leveraging Containers in the Financial Services Industry for a more thorough look at containers and their use in financial institutions.

So, what are Linux containers and what do they do? Containers are open source software development platforms that enable you to package and isolate applications together, with their entire runtime environment and all of the files necessary. Because they are packaged in a standardized way, they can help lower costs and operational risk. Also, because they are independent from the underlying operating environment, they are very portable: code can be quickly moved around to run on servers running Linux operating system. They can also be connected together to run a distributed app in the cloud.

Containers have the potential to accelerate the pace of application development, something financial services firms need in order to keep up with customer demands, competitive pressures and their own digital transformations. But implementing containers alone won’t suffice. Successful container adoption depends on people and process as much as technology, and teams across the organization must work together.

There are trailblazers already leading the way. As far back as 2015, BBVA chairman Francisco González told of the bank’s transformation to become a software company of the future. A disruptive evolution, no doubt, and one that’s filled with both risk and opportunity. The question is, how can a highly regulated industry like financial services successfully manage this?

In my opinion, financial institutions may be remiss in not embracing technologies like containers and transforming into a financial technology organization. Turning to trusted technology partners and providers to help introduce DevOps, container platforms and agile best practices can help financial services firms mitigate the risks while also transforming their own IT departments to disrupt the market.

For example, Barclays Bank introduced an application platform-as-a-service (aPaaS) as part of its cloud program. The company used Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform as an update to its IT infrastructure to help provide an agile, DevOps-driven approach to application creation. This allowed developers to have access to necessary resources on demand and at a self-service pace. The result: faster release update schedule that has freed up developers to work on fresh, innovative tasks rather than every day, administrative tasks that do not provide competitive value. Barclays’ culture has also evolved to be much more agile, allowing the IT organization the room to try (and sometimes fail at) new initiatives.

I’ve covered a lot more in the International Banker article, and invite you to check it out. You can also learn more about how Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform can work for your organization, or read about how FICO is using the technology to deliver software that helps it diversify into new markets.

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