CommBank seeks mobilised cloud

Commonwealth Bank CIO Michael Harte has said the financial giant is looking to be able to "break free of the tyranny" of lock-in cloud providers.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor

Cloud services should be as easy to switch between as it is for mobile phone customers to switch telcos, according to Commonwealth Bank CIO Michael Harte.

Speaking at the F5 Networks Agility conference on the Sunshine Coast yesterday, Harte said that as Commonwealth Bank began moving more and more of its operations into the cloud, the organisation was still spending about 85 percent of its IT funding on infrastructure, and only 15 percent on IT services that directly impact on the value offered to customers.

"When we look at the modelling of the thousands of applications and the millions of interactions between those applications, we're still only 15 percent computing for customers. Even after all of that effort," he said.

"Because the systems of record are still consuming all the compute and all the storage. And even on a daily basis when developers are building those maintence routines, they're having to interface that with all the old legacy. So the money is still going to all of those old systems of record and not computing on behalf of the customer."

He said companies like F5, which CBA uses in its cloud services, would need to help banks resolve those problems. While virtualisation had freed up some money that would normally have been spent on servers, Harte said that virtualisation had not yet been able to free up cash to spend on the customer, because many of the services CBA requires are locked into multi-year single vendor contracts.

"We still have not been able to mobilise where we choose to get that work. We do some degree of switching. We have alternate providers, we can sort of have a semi-auction. But we need to go beyond virtualisation to the mobilsation of everything because with contestability, you get pricing down," he said.

He said the bank believes that its customers should be able to switch their services if they can find a better product or price, and he said it should be the same with cloud services.

"That is the world that cloud enables. And yet we're still locked into long multi-year service contracts with the box providers, and with the software providers," he said.

"So I can't switch in and out of Oracle, I can't switch in and out of Microsoft, I can't switch in and out of HP, and I can't switch in and out of IBM. They're the stock players.

"We need companies like [F5 Networks] to see what companies like us are doing, and trying to get away from unnecessary corporate expense to free up that infrastructure and put money to work for the granular, real-time compute on behalf of the customer. "

It was something that F5 Networks has already been working on, with the company today announcing that it would be launching a new version of its BIG-IQ management platform for cloud migration and bursting. F5's senior manager for systems engineering ANZ, Matt Miller told ZDNet that F5 had already been working on integrating it into customers' cloud services to make it easier to switch between providers.

"We have been working with customers. We have seen a massive shift in the market," he said. "Scale up, scale down, scale sideways. That's what BIG-IQ allows you to do."

He said that F5 wasn't expecting big pushback from the vendors that were locking customers like CBA into long contracts.

"I like the ecosystem mentality. Vendors don't want to be everything to everyone, and the ones that do, the lock in type ones aren't going to win. I think customers now are smart enough that cloud has pushed them from a research and development perspective that they need to know what they're buying," he said.

Josh Taylor travelled to the Sunshine Coast as a guest of F5 Networks

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