Bankwest turns to OpenStack

Although Bankwest only went live with OpenStack eight months ago, the company is already onto testing its second version.
Written by Aimee Chanthadavong, Contributor

In recognising it needed to be "cloud ready", Bankwest went live eight months ago with OpenStack.

Speaking at OpenStack Australia Day in Sydney on Thursday, Bankwest technical lead of configuration automation Geoff Stewart explained that back in 2010 when the bank was "really keen to automate everything", one of the first aspects the business looked at automating was its test environment.

He said the main reason for this was because, at the time, most of the bank's applications sat on the company's mainframe where "the benefit was fairly limited". For example, Stewart highlighted that it previously took six weeks-plus to stand up any new environment and 70 percent of machines in the network were not being used.

"We used this as a means to kick off our proof of concept," he said.

However, once the company launched itself onto OpenStack, Stewart said the company came across some challenges, as Bankwest was mainly a Windows and VMware shop and its tech ops teams had minimal coding or scripting experience.

To build the confidence of the team, the company initially launched a test and learn program, followed by setting up a 15-day challenge to get 15 applications up and running on OpenStack.

Stewart said the main concept behind the 15-day challenge was to not only demonstrate the agility of the platform but to increase team engagement, which in the end saw all 15 applications developed in nine days.

He went on to reveal within the Bankwest stack -- which consists of Red Hat Enterprise Linux running RHEL-OSP6 with KVM -- it also relies on NetApp for storage, which Stewart expects will save the company 90 percent in storage.

According to Stewart, since going live with OpenStack, the bank now has a complete stack automation and version control and one template for all of its environments, and that there is no outage deployment, as the stack gives the opportunity for the bank to stand up a replica environment next to an existing one for testing.

He added that while the move has not had a positive impact on rapid feedback, where it has in fact added an extra 5-10 minutes to the cycle, the developers do not mind because they are receiving feedback much earlier than they previously did.

While there will be continual evaluation of OpenStack, the bank is already testing version two of its stack, which Stewart hopes will see feedback time improve and the opportunity for the company to spin up in Docker.

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