Are Core Application Modernisation Initiatives Delivering for Banks and Insurance?
Blog //27-03-2017

Are Core Application Modernisation Initiatives Delivering for Banks and Insurance?

by Rob Anderson, Vice President of Marketing and Product for Application Modernization

Information Week's Bank Systems and Technology blog shared 3 best-practises that can reverse the data dilemma and help realize the full potential of application modernisation projects in banking.

Why Are Banks Engaging in Application Modernisation?

Mergers and acquisitions, consumerism, and digitisation have exploded application portfolios in the banking sector. In turn, application diversity and redundancy have increased dramatically, creating a huge technology debt for IT and lines of business alike. Ageing, poorly utilised, core banking applications have dragged along a growing cost burden, including unsupported hardware, software, and specialised labour. Legacy systems, pre-dating the onslaught of new banking regulations, have also introduced huge costs in meeting compliance requirements. A study by IBM suggests that the inflexibility of legacy systems costs the banking sector $200 billion annually and erodes roughly 20% of pre-tax profits.

Not surprisingly, modernisation of core systems has been top of mind for bank IT executives. But are these modernisation initiatives delivering on the promise of lower costs, faster innovation, and streamlined compliance? In fact, the potential gains are very real, but the cost and complexity of modernisation projects eat into the returns. Solving this dilemma requires recognising that infrastructure and application modernisation is only a means to the end goal: faster data access and delivery to developers, testers, business analysts, or other information consumers. But data is, ironically, both the ultimate reward and the biggest barrier to maximising returns on modernisation of core banking systems. To that end, here are three best-practises that can reverse the data dilemma and help realize the full potential of modernization projects in banking:

1. Enable data as a service

Core system modernisation projects are multi-year initiatives that are also highly data-intensive in nature. Development, QA, integration, training, and other environments are needed for each application being modernised. Moreover, there is a constant need to move data back and forth across project environments. For example, QA or test systems must frequently refresh their data from production systems to maximise the quality of testing. While virtual infrastructure can be spun up quickly, moving large datasets across application landscapes can take days to weeks of coordinated effort across several IT teams. Emerging technologies that virtualise application data can wipe out 90% of the infrastructure and operational overhead in data management. In doing so, these solutions enable data-as-a-service and can double the pace of modernisation initiatives whilst simultaneously cutting cost and risk.

2. Eliminate cross-team dependencies

Internal IT resources almost never have the bandwidth to take on large-scale modernisation projects. Staff augmentation through system integrators or other specialised services partners is inevitable. But this introduces long wait times and cross-team dependencies. For example, the modernisation project team may be ready to re-test migration to a modernised application test stack, but the internal operations team may not be able to provide access to production data due to peak usage cycles or other constraints. The constant dependence of modernisation project teams on internal operations teams is a perennial source of conflict and project delays. What if a space-efficient, synchronised, virtualized instance of production data could be made available to the modernisation project team at all times? Look to data-as-a-service-enabling technologies to decouple the reliance of project teams on production operations teams.

3. Address compliance requirements early

Compliance poses one of the biggest roadblocks to application modernisation in banking. Many core banking systems are subject to a growing number of regulatory requirements. While ageing application infrastructure can be readily decommissioned, the underlying data often has to be retained for years to ensure compliance and audit readiness. Slow recovery of retired data with text-based archiving solutions only adds to the push back. Ultimately, the full cost of legacy applications is sustained for extended durations, and the return on modernisation initiatives is not realised. What if entire application stacks (including application binaries, configuration files, database data, etc.) could be efficiently archived and restored in minutes? Demonstrating efficiency in archival and ease of recovery can accelerate modernisation projects by eliminating push back from legal and compliance teams.

Getting there

Easier said than done? Not really. The technology landscape is evolving faster than ever. Over the past decade, infrastructure agility and efficiency has been transformed through server virtualization, private cloud platforms, etc. Today, many banks can claim to have enabled infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS). That leaves data as the remaining bottleneck to milestone gains in agility, efficiency, and quality. Banks that embrace application modernisation solutions enabling data-as-a-service stand to gain a clear competitive advantage.


Rob Anderson

Rob Anderson


Vice President of Marketing and Product for Application Modernization

Rob Anderson is Vice President of Marketing and Product for Application Modernization. He has spent the better part of the past decade developing, marketing, and selling mainframe modernization solutions, and has had a front-row seat in the transformation of the industry and its surrounding ecosystem.

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