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Commerzbank goes into the cloud with Google and Microsoft

GAt this point, Deutsche Bank has sealed a ten-year partnership with the American provider Google in cloud technology, which it considers to be “unique in the financial sector” in “this comprehensive form”. Commerzbank is now reporting that it has been using cloud technology since 2016, that is, it draws storage space and computing power over the Internet so that employees can access data in the cloud from anywhere; Initially, the data remained in the bank’s private storage, from 2018 onwards, the institute made more and more agreements with Microsoft and Google to outsource storage space and computing power to their cloud.

A third of IT is already in the cloud

Around a third of Commerzbank’s IT applications are now in a hybrid cloud, i.e. a mix of private cloud and the clouds of the two partners. “Cloud computing is a key technology in our digital transformation,” said Carsten Bittner, who, as Head of Technology Foundations, is responsible for the technical basis in the Commerzbank Group.

In a webinar, Bittner explains why it increases efficiency when Commerzbank technology migrates to the cloud: When Commerzbank launched a fully digital credit card in the summer that allows contactless payments via smartphone and the services of Apple Pay and Google Pay, many customers would have used the card immediately in the Corona crisis. The IT systems were only able to bear the burden of the unexpectedly large number of payment transactions because the computing capacity of the cloud could be accessed. Because the technology has the advantage: The user is flexible and only pays the cloud provider for the computing power he needs; so he rents as needed.

Get to the database

But cloud technology goes beyond storage and networks. Bank IT increasingly consists of small applications that are combined with one another via standardized interfaces (APIs) such as Lego blocks. Commerzbank has around 150 such services available and 330 applications are under development. The goal: to become faster and more efficient. “And to create added value from Commerzbank’s databases,” says Dominik Schmidt-Kiefer, Senior Vice President Big Data & Advanced Analytics. A large amount of data is generated in all transactions, often personal. These could be used in compliance with the data protection regulations with the help of self-learning algorithms in order to make offers tailored to customers.

And the deeper analysis of data can help Commerzbank to make smarter credit decisions with fewer defaults in the end, says Schmidt-Kiefer, who has succeeded former Google manager Kerem Tomak. Using a search program, he shows that within a few seconds the desired payment can be filtered out of a pool of billions of payment transactions from the last 18 months.

Why not an exclusive partner?

But why does Commerzbank not commit to one cloud provider? For the answer, Schmidt-Kiefer chooses the image of two supermarkets with different product ranges that offer their customers the same parking space. Commerzbank not only uses computer capacity, but also uses applications from Google and Microsoft. Here, Google’s strengths lie in the search for data in large amounts of data, while Microsoft is more flexible in providing capacity. But that could change, which is why it is good to have the choice between several cloud partners.

Even more important, however, is that Commerzbank employees learn to develop cloud solutions themselves, and that cloud technology is being used throughout the Commerzbank organization. “In some cases, we are already offering our own solutions via the Google and Microsoft marketplaces,” said Schmidt-Kiefer.

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