Financial IT stories

Does DevOps have value in finance?

Gabriela Motroc

How does DevOps fit into the world of finance? Can the cultural shift help the financial service industry to deliver software faster? And, more importantly, what’s in it for financial professionals?

Jim Bird, an experienced software development manager, project manager, and CTO focused on hard problems in software development and program management, software quality, and security, wrote in an O’Reilly report titled DevOps for Finance: Reducing Risk Through Continuous Delivery that DevOps practices such as Infrastructure as Code and Continuous Delivery can help solve problems in financial systems.

In his short book, Bird explains that financial services companies have begun to hire DevOps engineers “to automate releases and to build Continuous Delivery pipelines.” However, he emphasizes that being a DevOps engineer in the world of finance differs greatly from having the same job in companies such as Google or Facebook. First, web and mobile have become important channels in financial services “but most of what happens in financial systems is system-to-system through industry-standard electronic messaging protocols like FIX, FAST, and SWIFT, and low-latency proprietary APIs with names like ITCH and OUCH. This means that tools and ideas designed for solving web and mobile development and operations problems can’t always be relied on.”

Second, Continuous Deployment creates “all kinds of challenges and problems for interconnected B2B systems that exchange thousands of messages per second at low latencies, and where regulators expect change schedules to be published up to two quarters in advance.” Third, most financial businesses run on a short trading day cycle, which means that “a massive amount of activity is compressed into a small amount of time. It also means that there is a built-in window for after-hours maintenance and upgrading.”

Adopting DevOps in the world of finance: Challenges

Bird claims that the financial world has been somewhat reluctant to adopt DevOps because in this industry failure is expensive (not to mention the follow-on costs such as lawsuits and regulatory fines, plus the costs to clean up what went wrong and make sure that the same problem won’t happen again). Furthermore, there’s the complexity aspect: as Bird states in his short book, “modern online financial systems are some of the most complex systems in the world today,” which means this industry is not so open to the idea of embracing failure.

Plus, financial professionals have to deal with legacy controls and regulatory compliance and must eliminate the constant security threats so adopting DevOp may not be a smooth ride.

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Recommendations for the finance industry

Although the list of challenges may discourage financial companies from adopting DevOps, the process does not have to be complicated. According to the O’Reilly report, the first step would be to enter the cloud and build on Agile. Automated testing, security and performance testing should also play important roles. If you want to find out how to adopt DevOps in a financial services company, check out the short book.

Moreover, DevOps Transformation experts from Ranger4 revealed in their DevOps for Finance thoughtpaper that the finance industry should rationalize the portfolio of activities, identify and eliminate operational constraints and weaknesses as well as transform destructive organizational cultures when considering DevOps. Read the entire paper here.

Banks cash in on DevOps

Justin Arbuckle, CTO and Agile, Lean and DevOps Transformation Leader for Sococo, Inc. talked about the value of DevOps in finance in an article for JAX Magazine. “Many may look at cost savings and headcount as their first DevOps metrics,” he said. “These are important barometers but don’t measure long-term value back to the business. Two places to start for value-oriented metrics are time to delivery and quality of release. Measuring time to delivery shows how long it takes to get a new product from code checking to production. Ideally, you want to see your time to delivery drop from months, to weeks, to days and then literally to hours and minutes.

The goal for companies in every industry and economic sector around the world today is clear – accelerate your business so that you create and provide greater, and faster, value for the customer. But, in order to drive a robust ROI on this journey, it’s crucial that you carefully measure the true velocity of your organization, whether you’re just beginning with DevOps or you’re well along in the transformation.”

Read the whole article in the latest issue of JAX Magazine.


To read more about DevOps, download the latest issue of JAX Magazine:

People like Patrick Debois, Andrew Shafer and John Allspaw (to name a few) have given us the means to transform this group of concepts into a movement but now it’s time to focus on some of its facets: continuous delivery, business culture, cloud platforms, microservices and container technology. Let’s allow our authors to convince you that these ingredients are equally important to DevOps. Mark Hinkle, VP at The Linux Foundation will tell you what’s next for the effort to improve coordination between software developers and operations personnel while Justin Arbuckle, CTO & Agile, Lean and DevOps Transformation Leader for Sococo, Inc. will explain why measuring DevOps ROI is essential for companies that are embracing the industry’s forward movement.

Thirsty for more? Open the magazine and see what we have prepared for you.

Gabriela Motroc
Gabriela Motroc was editor of and JAX Magazine. Before working at Software & Support Media Group, she studied International Communication Management at the Hague University of Applied Sciences.

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