Multi-cloud and open systems.

NAB is working towards a software-defined end state for both its IT and network infrastructure as part of a transformation of its technology operations.

Executive general manager of business enabling technology, Yuri Misnik, told iTnews the bank is looking to apply “a consistent set of service management processes” across public cloud and on-premises infrastructure.

Earlier this month, the bank suggested an expansion of its use of AWS’ public cloud services, to which it has been deploying transactional workloads since 2016.

But there was considerable ambiguity around how the bank saw its infrastructure strategy as a whole evolving.

Some of this ambiguity has now been lifted: Misnik revealed to iTnews that NAB’s future  infrastructure will draw on multiple public cloud services as well as an internal platform that is based on “open hardware and software”.

“In the near future, we see higher workloads going into different public cloud environments, but we also see some systems staying in our data centres,” Misnik told iTnews.

“We see the potential for massive value from the public cloud and we are adopting it at fast pace, but we want to do it only where and when it makes sense from both commercial and technology perspectives and doing so in close consultation with our regulators.

“Where it does not make sense to use public cloud we plan to utilise an open hardware and software approach.”

NAB has not said where its thinking is around open components, but there are a number of options in-market that could fit the brief.

These could include the likes of open source hardware ecosystems like the Open Compute Project (spun out of Facebook) and Open19 (spun out of LinkedIn), or perhaps even composable infrastructure options like those being pursued by OpenStack.

Misnik said that NAB is looking to a mix of tools to run and manage its infrastructure.

“We are looking to implement a consistent set of service management processes across our on-premises and public cloud environments using the most appropriate tools,” he said.

“We are focusing on end-to-end automation of all service management processes and will look at a combination of commercial and custom-build tools to deliver it.”

Technology transformation

Infrastructure is, of course, but one piece of a much larger transformation effort around NAB’s technology operations.

The transformation cuts across the traditional pillars of “people, processes and foundational technology”, Misnik said.

Misnik’s own appointment likely falls into the ‘people’ portion of that – he joined NAB from HSBC UK in November last year, where he took on responsibility for the bank’s business-facing technology teams, including its digital and corporate functions.

The bank is in the process of “rebalancing” its IT workforce, which will see it insource a lot of capabilities and ultimately hire about 600 IT professionals.

NAB is also investing in the cloud-related skills of its people, recently unveiling a ‘cloud guild’ in which it would train about 2000 people.

“We want the best to attract the best engineers who have experience in modern technology stack, public cloud services from all three major providers, big data and machine learning frameworks,” Misnik said.

“We want people who are customer obsessed, have great technology depth, are independent thinkers and want to take ownership of ideas.”

Misnik said the bank is shifting to “a services-centric model” where “cross-functional teams own services – such as internet banking or mobile banking – end-to-end from the product, technology design, delivery and operations perspective.”

“This allows the teams to move much faster, be more agile, make decisions faster and build sustainable supported technology services,” he said.

Broadly, there are three areas of technology operations that are being transformed; all three were laid out by NAB’s chief technology and operations officer Patrick Wright at the recent AWS Summit.

They include the adoption of microservices and APIs, deeper use of cloud, and data delivered as a service on the cloud.

“We believe that technology is one of our key differentiators going forward and we want to maintain deep competency within NAB,” Misnik said.

“We are building a technology strategy where we will have a combination of in-house capabilities, with a trusted partner ecosystem.

“However, one key principle for us is that we will remain in control of the technology choices we are making and we will have knowledge and expertise in NAB to make such choices.”

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