AFTAs 2018: Best Cloud Initiative—Bank of America

Bank of America’s cloud project was the outstanding entry in this year’s cloud initiative category.

How things change over time. In the early Millennium, particularly around the close of its first decade, much of the conversation around cloud was hesitant on the part of major banks. Not so much, any more. The rise of highly secure and relatively cheap cloud capabilities from the likes of Amazon, Microsoft and Google have powered this, but the most advanced institutions are well on their way toward implementing their own internal programs for cloud transformation.

Bank of America is one such institution, and wins the best cloud initiative category at this year’s AFTAs. The bank has always been a technologically forward-looking business, but even in terms of the scale and size of firm-wide programs at tier-one institutions, Project Greenfield—now Bank of America Cloud—is impressive. 

The scope of the project, which has been running for two years, and its impact, are impressive. By the start of 2019, the bank is aiming to host around 80 percent of its applications in its private cloud, and to achieve a 20:1 compression ratio in hosting—no mean feat, considering that before the initiation of the project, Bank of America operated approximately 60,000 physical machines in 36 datacenters.

Achieving this rate of migration means that the bank has had to move at least 3,000 operating systems per month to the new environment. Therefore, the fact that it has managed, in some cases, to exceed 8,000 per month speaks volumes to the skills and tenacity of the 200-strong workforce managing this project—at any time, there are between 12,000 and 14,000 systems in either a planning or execution phase, according to the bank.

“In order to successfully migrate applications to the cloud, it takes a governing body to help address capacity and demand, discuss opportunities or concerns, create action items and accountability measures, and ensure deadlines and deliverables are executed on properly,” says Howard Boville, chief technology officer at Bank of America. “It is also critical to identify skill gaps and provide the necessary resources and training to ensure teams can support the migration strategy and manage the platform being used.”

The numbers are staggering, but equally so are the effects—Bank of America estimates that the project has delivered $535 million in gross savings in 2018 through enhanced efficiency of operations, datacenter housing efficiency, and both process and hardware optimization. With around 65 percent of systems currently migrated, the bank is well on track for its 80 percent target in 2019—with the remaining 20 percent of systems that were not considered as being suitable for migration, constantly being renewed. 

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