BOQ says 'not yet' for cloud, BYO devices

Summary:After three months in the role, Chris Nilon, group executive of IT and Operations for the Bank of Queensland (BOQ) has decided that the bank isn't yet ready for the cloud, and will continue to weigh up the pros and cons of a bring-your-own (BYO) device model.

After three months in the role, Chris Nilon, group executive of IT and Operations for the Bank of Queensland (BOQ) has decided that the bank isn't yet ready for the cloud, and will continue to weigh up the pros and cons of a bring-your-own (BYO) device model.

Speaking to ZDNet Australia, Nilon said that there had certainly been discussions around using a cloud environment for BOQ; however, there hadn't yet been a standout offering from a vendor.

"For anything that we've had an opportunity to go to market for there hasn't been an offering that's been appropriate, or there hasn't been the need to [move to the cloud] at this stage," he said, adding that just because BOQ isn't ready to move into the cloud doesn't mean that the bank views the technology as a dud.

"I think cloud is here to stay and evolve. I'm sure we'll be an adopter at some point … certainly it's something we're keeping a very close eye on."

BOQ's hesitation towards the cloud comes in direct contrast to other banks, like Westpac, which has already deployed private cloud infrastructure. Meanwhile, even the Federal Government is considering a cloud deployment, with the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) finalising its cloud directions strategy last month.

Another hot topic of conversation in Nilon's team is devices for staff, and whether or not it would be prudent to implement a bring-your-own (BYO) device model, similar to Suncorp's.

While it might save the bank money in desktop deployments and ongoing maintenance and licensing, Nilon is particularly concerned about security.

"[BYO devices for staff] have certainly been the topic of current conversation and the conversation in the bank is around what the model may be, what would be considered and what wouldn't be considered, and largely [a discussion] around security impacts and data ownership and risks associated with doing it.

"I'd be worried about data leakage more with a BYO device model because you don't own the device and people are transporting that device around potentially," he said.

There are some sections of the bank that, due to the sensitive nature of the information they process, may never see a BYO device model implemented, he added.

"I think there are some [departments and organisations] where the security is so onerous that it would be very difficult to deploy BYO device models. Some of the sensitivity around the bank's treasury and other functions would potentially prohibit it."

Nilon joined BOQ in 2003 following an acquisition and after seven years was promoted recently to the head of the IT and Operations unit. In tandem with Nilon joining the bank, a core system migration was underway. BOQ went through a core banking transformation, moving from an ageing Fujitsu system to the Fiserv ICBS core.

Nilon believes that having a modern core banking system is crucial for doing business today.

"Being able to manage that customer expectation in terms of product delivery, and creating new initiatives on the platform, as well as timely servicing of a customer on it is … critical. Integrating with contemporary channels … all of that becomes potentially still doable [with an older system], but the time and cost associated with doing that can be a drag on the business," he said.

Products such as fast internet banking, mobile banking and better connectivity with branches are some of the channels that BOQ can serve faster and more efficiently with a more modern core banking system.

Nilon believes that correctly testing and analysing new products before they go live and during their implementation is key to preventing outages, adding that some events still cannot be planned for.

"Testing and other aspects help reduce the amount of outages due to change [but] you're never insulated from the fact that you will have some sort of technology failure at some time," he said.

"There's some outages that will be beyond your control like telecommunications outages for example. There are events such as cables being dug up for example and redundant routing links or they could all be out due to a catastrophic event like a flood for example," he added.

Topics: Cloud, Banking, Security


A fresh recruit onto the tech journalism battlefield, Luke Hopewell is eager to see some action. After a tour of duty in the belly of the Telstra beast, he is keen to report big stories on the enterprise beat. Drawing on past experience in radio, print and magazine, he plans to ask all the tough questions you want answered.

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