Building a great digital user experience with an agile infrastructure

Building a great digital user experience with an agile infrastructure

So if I extend that. Two years ago, we launched DevCloud, UBS DevCloud, which is actually an open ecosystem built on a public cloud, where all our software engineers can have a seamless experience from developer to test, to deploying solutions while on the job. This speeds up time to market and reduces costs, which obviously affects customers. With DevCloud, we can also constantly improve our apps, so they’ll never be 10 years old, but instead will still be relevant.

Now, the biggest benefit of moving to the cloud is that things that used to take, say, five days are now just one, which helps increase the productivity of our engineers and makes it a great place to work. We have an expression here that we use a lot, which is: “All engineers, all developers wait at the same speed.” So anything we can do to reduce their waiting time is value added. If we have the best engineering talent, if we have the best platforms, we can create the best experience for our customers, in terms of how they engage and interact with us.

laurel: You mentioned cloud computing, and to create a more definitive timeline here, UBS announced in late 2018 a plan to make the firm more efficient and effective through cloud computing. Then, as of February 2021, it was well ahead of that schedule, with 50% of private and public cloud computing. So, obviously, a big transition, if you’re talking, just in 2016, about mainframes, but what did that move to the cloud allow the company to do?

Mike: The strategy we laid out at the end of 2018 was to, within four years, move towards a cloud setup that was a third, a third, a third. So, the third is hosted on a private cloud, the third is a public cloud, and the third is hosted on the mainframe. And we wanted super clear goals, to try to transition and transform the organization, and then how do we progress and what does that mean. We are ahead of schedule on what we want to do. I would also say that our progress in the cloud has prepared us for the unpredictable, and we’ve seen that through COVID, we’ve seen that through the sudden scale, which has happened on a large scale, because of some of the situations in the world. We need more capacity to handle high volumes of trades, and with the cloud, you have burst elasticity, because you can burst for additional capacity. At the same time, we have always been able to ensure that business critical applications are stable, and in fact our availability is above 99.999%. So, five nines of availability, and that really puts us among the leaders in the financial industry.

Also, because we put our employees in the cloud, which we call A3, anytime, anywhere, from any device, which is now the workspace, we’ve enabled 95% of our employees to work from home. So we saw more than 60,000 users logged in at the same time, which is a huge increase in the use of communication tools, so 3 million Skype calls per week. The cloud ultimately makes us more flexible, more stable, more transparent, I think our facilitation with other ecosystems is much easier. All of this is great for our customers. That’s something I keep saying, even the seemingly non-customer part means we can respond to their needs faster and actually maintain security.

laurel: As part of this company-wide initiative to think strategically about these technology investments, UBS recently joined the Green Software Foundation as a managing member, in part to support the company’s drive to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions across all of its operations by 2050. So how does joining the Green Software Foundation affect the choices you make when building and deploying software?

Mike: Yes, I think, at a strategic level, UBS is absolutely committed to sustainability, and I think that as an individual, but also as a member of GEB, is a priority overall. We have thousands of applications running across our global business, and I think one of our big steps in our evolution is not just accelerating our digital transformation, but how do we do it the right way? So how do we use those principles of green development as a big part, an integral part of our approach in the future?

We’ve made progress in reducing carbon emissions, and that can be moving from on-prem data centers to the cloud, or reducing, or actually eliminating, idle energy-hungry resources. We are now also looking more and more at whether we can use apps that are carbon aware and then users can choose the lowest emission options. The Green Software Foundation is a really cool group, partnering with them to share best practice and knowledge with other members is part of that journey to continue reducing carbon emissions. I think we, with others, can really lead the way here.

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