By Michael Allen, VP & CTO EMEA, Dynatrace
Every bank is transforming into a software business. The proliferation of enterprise applications means performance is high on the agenda for banking IT departments, with software that runs perfectly the ultimate goal. However, banking applications, and the hybrid cloud environments they run in, are increasingly dynamic and complex, which is making performance harder for banks to manage using traditional approaches.
What banking IT teams need to get the job done isn't an endless stream of software information, but actionable software intelligence. They need simple answers that help them to understand and resolve the precise root cause of problems, not just more data and alert noise. This will enable faster mean-time-to-repair, meaning issues can be rectified before the bank and its customers are affected. This all sounds good in theory, but what actually is software intelligence, and how does it work in practice?
A more intelligent approach to managing complexity
The enterprise cloud is more complex than ever, comprising of thousands of connected services, millions of lines of code, and trillions of dependencies. In an attempt to combat this, and gain better visibility into the application environment, banks have typically implemented a mixed bag of monitoring tools. These tools fire out countless alerts, but often don't direct them to the right team within the bank, or provide the answers that are needed to identify the precise root cause and fix problems quickly.
These actionable insights can only be achieved using Artificial Intelligence and automation. AI is the only thing capable of mapping dynamic software environments in real-time, taking that data and analysing it instantly to provide IT and digital business teams within banks with actionable answers. This enables precise root cause to be quickly determined, so banks' IT teams can be made aware of the action that needs to be taken. This approach to managing the performance of applications might sound futuristic, but it's already transforming banking IT in a number of ways.
- Delivering smooth digital experiences
Digital transformation has given rise to the always-on economy, with banks expected to offer a constant stream of services, help and advice to their customers. The consequence is that it's more important than ever for banks to provide customers with seamless digital experiences – especially as it's easier than ever to publicly vent frustrations on social media, which can potentially damage a bank's reputation forever if a message goes viral.
Software intelligence helps banks meet these soaring expectations, by providing real-time insight into the cloud environment. AI can enable IT and digital business teams to quickly identify the precise root cause when customers face performance problems and, crucially, rectify them faster.
- Enabling self-healing applications
Taking this one step further, software intelligence can help banks' IT teams to fix performance problems before any impact is felt by end users. By integrating AI-powered monitoring solutions with other tools in the IT environment, the AI engine has access to metrics and events from across the entire enterprise cloud ecosystem. This information can then be pulled into a central data model to be analysed in real-time and in full context, delivering actionable software intelligence.
So, why stop there? Once these insights have identified where a problem is and what the solution is, that information can then be fed back to other tools in the IT ecosystem to trigger autonomous remediation workflows – without humans needing to do a thing. For example, software intelligence could be used to identify a performance slowdown within a banking application following the movement of a microservice to a new host. Having detected the change, that information could be used to update the CMDB in real-time and raise a ticket in the ITSM platform, to automatically run remediation workflows on the impacted components. This can be used to stop performance degradations in their tracks before they ever turn into a pressing problem for a bank.
- Helping DevOps teams innovate faster
Agile development is a key component of reaching a state of rapid innovation and perfect software experiences, but tooling isn't everything. Adopting a collaborative DevOps culture is also crucial, as IT teams in banks work together towards shared goals when developing and improving applications or digital services. Software intelligence can help enhance this process, providing complete visibility into the impact that new code will have on performance when deployed and directing those insights to the relevant teams to act upon. These insights enable DevOps teams to innovate faster for two key reasons.
Firstly, it provides DevOps and digital business teams with crucial insights that enable them to better understand how banking software can be optimised to improve user-experience and business outcomes. It also helps to inspire greater confidence that allows for faster innovation, as the failure fear-factor is significantly reduced. Software intelligence can automatically detect problems before users are impacted and feed that information directly into the CI/CD pipeline so that code changes can be instantly and automatically rolled-back if there is a problem. As a result, DevOps teams within banks can spend more time innovating and less time firefighting or worrying about the risk of introducing bugs through code changes.
Reaching software utopia
When it comes to software, banks have two overriding goals. The first is to run high quality software that improves user experiences and drives better business outcomes. The second is to develop and release software faster than ever, in order to keep up with customer demands and gain a competitive industry advantage.
Software intelligence is the key to both goals. The use of AI and automation provides IT teams with real-time insights into the performance of the entire software stack, giving precise answers when problems arise – whether it's in a bank's application, among the interconnected services, or to do with the underlying enterprise cloud environment. Equally, it powers faster innovation, constantly providing the answers to help DevOps teams release better quality software faster. Ultimately, software intelligence enables banks to succeed in their journey towards becoming software businesses.