Putting business into the cloud -- the bank that's been there, done that, and will go back for more [CPI Financial]
(CPI Financial Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Emirates NBD is known for taking on new technologies ahead of most other banks. We'd been long considering how to make a low-risk entry into the cloud and decided to start with our incentive compensation system for our 2000 sales staff. It was our first foray into the cloud, and we believe we are the first bank to put any of its business processes into a public cloud.
For our purposes it didn't make sense to construct an in-house private cloud. We would think again if we were dealing with very sensitive customer data. But here was a clear case for simply paying a subscription fee to Oracle, who had already invested in the hardware, software and infrastructure; the management, the security, the storage, the patches, the upgrades – the list can go on . We visited Oracle's data centre where they allowed us to bring in our own data security team conduct penetration testing. The results were not only good, but excellent; and we were reassured. I keep reminding myself that Oracle has to have just one serious security incident for its hosting facility to go out of business. Now the security of our information is as much Oracle's responsibility as it is ours. For Oracle, the stake in our success is high.
Is it really that much cheaper than a standard on-premise system? Yes, and it's a big yes. We pay per year per user which is a lot lower than on-premise application license costs (the per-day cost is less than the price of a coffee).There is zero hardware purchases and infrastructure manpower cost involved. Initial CAPEX is a lot lower than an on-premise implementation and the total cost to own is still lower across 5-10 years.
We paid a one-off implementation cost to cover configuration, training and testing.
Moreover, adding more users couldn't be easier. When we are ready to add more users, we can send an e-mail to Oracle instructing them to provide additional capacity; it takes them a day or two to allocate the necessary resources, and they send us the bill (which is a set fee, so there are no surprises). In the past if we wanted to do this in-house we would have had a lengthy procurement process for additional servers, we would have had to use our own manpower to do all the tasks which are now done by Oracle (see the list at the beginning of the blog), we would have had to get approval for the budget, there would have been additional license fees. The cost can run up to millions of dirhams and the time taken to onboard additional users can take many months. Instead we're paying Dirham a day. Per user. Nice.
Once the implementation was complete we had a comprehensive list of what we learnt, from which a check-list will be drawn up for our next project. We learnt that we didn't know what we didn't know. A cloud implementation is nothing like an on-premise implementation and we discovered most of the differences as we implemented. We also learnt that the users of the software should be involved in the process from the beginning. At Emirates NBD, we have a very sophisticated compensation programme for our sales staff and we are very proud of it. It's called Exceed, and in the next few weeks you will learn more from our Exceed leader on CPIfinancial.net. But for now, I have to stress that by making incentive compensation available on the cloud, we've not only changed the technology, but we've changed the business as well. When a Sales Manager can draw a report that tells him what's happening NOW with his team, his business thinking will change and he will manage his staff differently from when decisions were made based on a monthly report. This technology most definitely does not lie exclusively in the hands of the IT department but with the business as well. We learnt that we had to have a project team consisting of the business architects, the business users, business managers and IT staff to focus exclusively on this implementation. And we demanded that from Oracle too. If the implementation went wrong it wasn't enough to log a support request online and wait for someone to get back to us – we needed a dedicated team from Oracle to help with both the business and the technical aspects of the implementation.
You could answer that with the fact that there was no need to pull in any of the usual technical staff to deploy the system. We have a very large and advanced infrastructure and it requires considerable interaction between multiple teams to deploy new applications. All that has gone – it's Oracle's responsibility now. I can go online and see my application from anywhere, at any time. It's great. We can focus on the business and not worry about the infrastructure. We will save millions of our budget in capital expenditure.
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