National Australia Bank (NAB) has become the latest Australian banking giant to flag an interest in the emerging cloud computing space. Last week it joined a global alliance of customers and vendors, which hopes to help steer datacentre requirements for the cloud.
The Open Data Center Alliance (ODCA) appears to be an initiative created by chipmaker Intel, but it has a steering committee composed almost purely of end users, including BMW, China Life, Deutche Bank, JPMorgan Chase, Lockheed Martin, Marriott International, Shell, Terremark, UBS and Australia's NAB.
"NAB has a keen interest in cloud computing," the bank said in a statement this week. "We see some opportunities and already make use of some 'cloud' services. It's also fair to say that 'cloud' is only at the beginning of its journey; there is a long way to go before the industry is mature and the purported benefits are realisable."
The bank said it had joined the alliance as a founding steering committee member because it saw in the group "a unique opportunity" to work together with other global IT leaders to shape standards and best practices, so that businesses could create value from cloud computing.
"We're pleased to be part of the ODCA which has been described as 'likely to be the most important, powerful, and useful industry association in information technology within two years'," the bank said.
Not much is currently known about NAB's major strategic IT initiatives, including which projects it is pursuing in the cloud. At its annual results session last week, the bank only noted that it was increasing its spend on infrastructure as it ramped up its five-year Next Generation Platform (NGP) project to overhaul its legacy platforms.
The bank kicked off the project several years ago with a small deployment of Oracle software to support its UBank project that's focused on savings accounts accessed through the internet.
"Investment in infrastructure projects have increased by $212 million or 85.1 per cent since September 2009," the bank said in its annual results session last week. "This increase was mainly driven by the group's NGP investment and the transformation and convergence of key technology and operational infrastructure."
The news comes as other Australian banks have been publicly discussing their cloud computing initiatives. Commonwealth Bank of Australia technology chief Michael Harte, for example, said in April that there was a major transformation going on in the technology services market, especially to do with cloud computing.
Westpac, too, has been getting stuck into the cloud. Several weeks ago the bank revealed that over the past year it had deployed its own private cloud computing facility within its operations by working closely with the VMWare, Cisco and EMC cloud consortium.
"Out of all the banks, we're the only ones to have built a private cloud," Westpac's group executive of technology Bob McKinnon told journalists at the time.