Integration issues causing banks to build tech internally

Integration hurdles are forcing banks to build their infrastructure in-house, according to Justin Arbuckle, senior vice president for the platform organisation (Plato) division of Scotiabank.

“There may have been a perception in the past that you could buy shrink-wrapped solutions and apply them,” says Arbuckle. “We all know that the purchase or the integration of the shrink-wrapped solutions is rarely what drives the majority complexity of any of these large IT projects.

“Integration is the issue, so if integration is the primary axis on which complexity and cost is driven, doesn’t it make sense for us to solve the integration problem, and for us to address the simplicity of integration ourselves so that we reduce the cost of integration?” he says.

Tech vendors are beginning to disaggregate components while banks need to aggregate and create single platforms to drive efficiency, security, and ease of use for its developers, according to Arbuckle.

“I think in general the difference between software that is sold or built by any vendor obviously needs to solve a range of problems, whereas a single bank, we need to resolve a very defined set of problems for us and for our customers,” says Arbuckle.

Plato was set up in 2011 to work specifically on internal issues within Scotiabank’s infrastructure, while also doing away with legacy monolithic applications. Slowly the bank has been migrating data and “old logic” onto the platform, according to Arbuckle.

“It turns out that in the industry the trade-off of speed an ease of use versus customisation doesn’t work economically,” he says. “What we are attempting to do, and what we are succeeding in doing is beginning to find scale economies that efficiently put best of class technology together, wrap it up into what we call a platform so that it is easy and integrated for people to do the secure, easy, way of responding to our customer requirements.”

For Arbuckle, cloud technology is most effectively used as a way of quickly building infrastructure rather than for data storage.

“Cloud as infrastructure is less important than cloud as a way of building. The soundbite that we use internally is, ‘cloud is a method not a location,’” says Arbuckle. “What I mean by that is, let’s image that we are able to build a cloud-based infrastructure, and let’s imagine in that cloud-based infrastructure I can spin up a VM, and all the key words. I can do it in five minutes, but let’s say that because of my legacy processes it takes me 30 days to get anything into production, so what is the value of being able to spin it out in five minutes.

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