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Infrastructure and Operations

Deutsche Bank’s Digital Strategies Hinge on ‘Everything-as-a-Service’

Germany’s largest bank says moving swiftly to market demands depends on cloud-native, platform-based development methods

Large enterprises striving to rapidly mobilize digital capabilities constantly seek to give developers every edge possible to ship new applications and features more quickly. Deutsche Bank certainly feels that need acutely—which is why it completely transformed its IT team to an ‘everything-as-a-service’ delivery model. The investments Deutsche Bank made to its processes and underlying IT infrastructure have paid off in a drastic reduction of the time it takes to turn a business idea into a digital reality.

As one of the world’s largest financial institutions, Deutsche Bank executes 13 million payments and clears €500 billion in transactions daily. The volume of transactions and variety of customer needs that goes with it cries out for a flexible and swift way to deliver new services on demand. This is what drove Germany’s largest bank to spend the last three years creating and perfecting an internal platform it calls Fabric.

Built on a mesh of open-source cloud technologies, Fabric is a homegrown platform-as-a-service (PaaS) built to unify, streamline, and automate many of the most tedious aspects of developing and delivering software. Deutsche Bank executives say that funneling development work through the Fabric platform has helped the company center its digital transformation around an everything-as-a-service mentality.

“Our vision was for everything-as-a-service to create a bubble where our people can’t tell if they’re building software for a bank or any of the software companies in the world,” explains Tom Gilbert, global head of cloud, application, and integration platforms for Deutsche Bank. “We wanted to be able to quickly take an idea to production while meeting the security and regulatory standards of the industry.”

Before Fabric, it would take months to move ideas from proof-of-concept to production-ready software. Deutsche was operating an IT environment where software development work was extremely fragmented and supported by an extremely complex mix of isolated infrastructure. Heterogenous was the operative word, as the company dealt with managing software running on 45 different operating systems, across hundreds of thousands of cores of compute power at very low utilization rates.

Leadership needed a way to streamline and orchestrate all of those individual efforts—essentially creating a software development factory that could scale up efforts across the entire organizations. The PaaS-based Fabric has Deutsche bank abstracting away a lot of that complexity by using the Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform—an enterprise-class Kubernetes platform—to standardize workloads and take a common building-block approach to development. Company executives say that with Fabric “we don’t talk about infrastructure anymore, it’s now workloads and SLAs.”

In just a few short years, the company has gotten the full buy-in of technology and business stakeholders, with Fabric now supporting 6,000 internal users across 4,000 projects. As a result, it now takes just days or weeks to take business ideas from proof-of-concept to production at Deutsche Bank.

Not only that, but the company is also using Fabric as a way to attract more technical talent into its stable of developers. Banks are notorious for their kludgy legacy systems that are difficult to manage and develop for, which creates a challenge for recruiters seeking to bring in fresh blood to help them innovate. In the past year, Deutsche Bank reported that it’s using Fabric as a signal to younger developers that it’s fostered a workplace that welcomes modern development methods.

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