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Wednesday, 06 June 2012 17:04

NAB prepares for cloud push


NAB, one of the international steering committee members of the Open Data Centre Alliance set up to drive the development of cloud computing standards, has provided a glimpse of how it is reorganising itself internally ready to take advantage of cloud computing as it matures.

In a speech delivered at FST Media’s Technology and Innovation conference in Melbourne today, chief information officer Adam Bennett said that the bank was in transition from being a “builder of systems” to becoming an “orchestrator of services”.  In tandem with the bank’s technology transformation programme NAB has implemented an IT services model in readiness for the transition.

According to Mr Bennett; “We have set ourselves up so that many of our IT services can be consumed by our business on-demand. We will scale up and scale down depending on business and customer need.”

Mr Bennett said that currently 10 million transactions were handled by the bank’s computer systems each day, while it also handled 200 million visits a year to its online banking site.

Clearly influenced by the elasticity and scalability promised by cloud computing Mr Bennett added that the changes rippling through the bank meant that: “As cloud techniques improve and the challenges of standardisation, security and regulation are addressed, we will be ready to pursue cloud opportunities as appropriate to our environment.”

In March the bank announced that it was testing a security framework on behalf of ODCA which could form part of a global template for buying cloud computing services.

The bank has already started down the cloud computing path and has an arrangement in place with IBM which is creating an internal private cloud for the bank according to Mr Bennett.

Now a third of the way through a technology overhaul which will see the bank replace legacy applications with a new core banking system based on Oracle technologies, Mr Bennett said the total cost of the transformation ran to “multi-billions of dollars”.

After two years’ work the bank rolled out the first release of the NextGen banking platform into NAB in February and will start migrating customer accounts onto the new system later this year, starting with UBank customers.

While much focus has been on the transition to the NextGen computer platform Mr Bennett said that the bank had also created a single contact centre infrastructure, replacing nine separate legacy platforms used in call centres; worked with Telstra to create one standard communications network replacing ten legacy networks; and begun construction of a new data centre in Melbourne.

NAB, Westpac and Commonwealth Bank are in something of a race for the ribbon with regard to their technology transformations. ANZ meanwhile is taking a somewhat different tack by maintaining three separate platforms to support its super regional banking strategy.

Commonwealth Bank is acknowledged as the furthest along in terms of technical transformation, with its core banking overhaul scheduled for completion by the end of the year, but according to Mr Bennett; “It is too early to claim victory – for NAB or any of our competitors.”

“However we do know that the successful bank of the future will have mastered resilience, it will be flexible, it will have retired bespoke legacy systems, it will have an on-demand cost base, it will be an orchestrator of services rather than a builder of systems…and above all, will have the customer at the heart of everything it does.”

Mr Bennett further stressed the importance of the bank’s data reserves in terms of being able to harvest and analyse large collections of information to gain faster and more accurate customer insight.


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