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UBS migrates 50% of applications to Microsoft Azure • The Register

UBS, one of the world’s largest private banks, is preparing to send more workloads to Microsoft’s Azure cloud to reduce energy consumption and accelerate digital services for customers.

The Swiss-based financial institution adopted a cloud-first strategy in 2018 when it planned to move a third of its applications to Azure. According to UBS, this goal was already achieved earlier than planned in February of last year.

Now the intention is to move 50 percent of applications, including critical workloads, to Azure over the next half decade. The adoption of the cloud has “profoundly changed the way we work, allowing us both to reinvigorate our technology portfolio and rethink how we build applications for our customers,” said Mike Dargan, Chief Digital and Information officer at the bank.

“The development and learnings from this partnership will benefit the financial services industry and beyond,” he asserted.

Microsoft said it has been co-developing services with UBS since 2018, including Carbon Aware, an open-source software that advises when to schedule workloads that require high computing power when clean, renewable, or lower-carbon sources are more freely available. This was then sent to the Green Software Foundation to share with other organizations.

Additionally, Microsoft claims that by moving from on-premises and private cloud servers to Azure, UBS has saved the energy consumption of these workloads by 30 percent to date.

The companies are exploring how software and data can be used to develop more services for UBS clients and employees. UBS already operates applications that use conversational AI capabilities to respond to email inquiries from clients. It will also use Microsoft’s Power platform to enable employees to build apps and automate workflows, as well as connect “disparate” data sources.

Banks were initially reluctant to move into the cloud due to regulatory compliance and security fears, but some are making big strides. Santander, for example, said in May that around 80 percent of its core banking infrastructure is in the cloud.

At the time, Jon C. Davies, research director at TechMarketView, said that given the nature of technology projects like Santander’s, it’s possible that “the most challenging elements of cloud migration are likely to remain. It is not necessarily easy to predict how long Santander still has to complete its journey to the cloud.”

Google is preparing a mainframe modernization service that will seek to simplify and mitigate the risk of moving workloads to the cloud. AWS launched its corresponding service in June.

But the cloud is not for everyone. In the UK, for example, The Future of Cloud Banking report by digital transformation specialist Publicis Sapient estimates that banks in general have only moved 30 percent of applications to the cloud. In North America it oscillates around the 29 percent mark.

“Despite the lack of progress in some areas, 68 percent of banks believe they are ahead of the competition when it comes to innovation. That suggests a certain level of complacency,” commented Jan-Willem Weggemans, head of the company’s cloud practice.

Migrations are complex and can go catastrophically wrong. ® UBS migrates 50% of applications to Microsoft Azure • The Register

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