Build a great digital customer experience with an agile infrastructure

So if I extend this. Two years ago, we launched DevCloud, UBS DevCloud, which is basically an open ecosystem built on the public cloud where all of our software engineers can move seamlessly from development to testing and deploying solutions as they work. This speeds up time to market and also lowers the cost, which obviously affects customers. With DevCloud, we can also constantly improve our apps so that they are never 10 years old and instead continue to be up to date.

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

Laurel: You mentioned cloud computing, and in order to create a more accurate timeline here, at the end of 2018, UBS announced a plan to make their firm more efficient and effective through cloud computing. Then, as of February 2021, it was well ahead of that schedule, with 50% of computing happening in the private and public cloud. So obviously a huge transition, if you’re talking only in 2016 about mainframes, but what has this transition to the cloud allowed the company to do?

Mike: The strategy we set out at the end of 2018 was to move to a cloud setup within four years, which would be third, third, third. So, a third is hosted in the private cloud, a third in the public cloud, and a third on the mainframe. And we wanted ultra-clear goals to try and transition and transform the organization and how we then progress and what that means. We’re ahead of schedule on what we want to do. I would also like to say that our progress in the cloud has prepared us for the unpredictable and we have seen it through COVID, we have seen it through the spikes in volume that have been happening in high volume due to some situations in the world. We need a lot of power to deal with high trading volumes, and with the cloud you have the explosion elasticity because you can use the extra power. In doing so, we have always been able to keep business-critical applications running smoothly, and in fact our availability is in excess of 99.999%. So, five nines of affordability, and that really puts us at the forefront of the financial industry.

In addition, because we have set up our employees on cloud computing, which we call A3, anytime, anywhere, from any device, which is now a workspace, we have allowed 95% of our employees to work from home. So we’ve seen over 60,000 users logged in at the same time, 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 collaboration with other ecosystems is much easier. All this is very convenient for our customers. This is something I keep repeating, even the part that seems to be non-customer related means we can respond faster to their needs and actually maintain security.

Laurel: As part of this company-wide initiative to take a more strategic approach to technology investment, UBS recently joined the Green Software Foundation as a governing member, in part to support the company’s goal of 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 mean, at a strategic level, UBS is absolutely committed to sustainable development, and I believe that as an individual and as a GEB member, this is a shared priority. There are thousands of applications running our global business and I think one of the important steps in our evolution is not just accelerating our digital transformation, but how do we do it right? So how do we use these greener development principles as a huge part, an integral part of our approach going forward?

We have made strides in reducing our carbon footprint, and that could be moving from on-premises data centers to the cloud, or reducing or actually removing unused energy-intensive resources. Now we’re also looking more and more to see if we can use carbon-informed apps so that users can choose the lowest-carbon options. The Green Software Foundation is a really cool group to partner with to share best practices and knowledge with other members as part of this journey to further reduce carbon emissions. I think we, along with others, can really pave the way here.

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