RBS automates away £7 million in manual server provisioning tasks

The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) Group – which will soon be rebranded as Natwest Group under new CEO Alison Rose – has been on a big technology modernization drive since its government bailout after the 2007 banking crisis.

A key part of that mission involves speeding up software delivery cycles for its internal and customer-facing applications, while cutting out inefficient processes and costs by automating away manual server provisioning tasks, a practice which has really picked up pace across the bank in the past three years.

Prior to this initiative, “releases weren’t quick enough,” admitted David Sandilands, infrastructure engineer at RBS, during a recent webinar with the devops tool vendor Puppet. “There were lots of projects with fixes and updates having to be applied manually on top of our build. The process was highly manual, with emails and desk drop-ins to ask for pull requests.”

Automation was the obvious answer. But to do that effectively, RBS first needed to embrace modern cloud infrastructure.

Like many financial services institutions, RBS has been steadily shifting away from physical servers to more virtualized and cloud services – mostly private cloud for now, but increasingly some public cloud infrastructure-as-a-service from Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure, depending on the workload. These new platforms have helped enable RBS to adopt automation techniques that have saved as much as £7 million (nearly $9 million) since October 2018.

Where it all started

When Sandilands joined RBS in 2005 the bank was running a large Unix estate spanning some 600 physical servers. Engineers at the bank would develop a build and hand a list of requirements to the operations team, “kicking off a long period of development until it reached operations, where it was almost too late to review in a hugely meaningful way,” Sandilands explained to InfoWorld. “If they found things that weren’t exactly what they needed, that led to either a huge delay to the release or it would be pushed into the next release.”

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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