Finance has traditionally been an industry slow to adapt to new technologies. However, innovative companies like Ortec Finance are utilizing cloud-native technologies like Kubernetes and microservices to provide Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions to their clients. Joining us to discuss how Ortec Finance has leveraged these technologies is Joris Cramwinckel, Technologist at Ortec Finance.
Modernizing a 40-Year-Old Fintech Company
Ortec Finance has been a fintech company for the last 40 years, providing software made by econometricians for econometricians. However, about seven years ago, Ortec Finance’s CTO realized the technology landscape was changing rapidly and more research needed to be done. Joris was given a part-time position to investigate new technologies that could benefit Ortec Finance.
Through experiments in Ortec Finance’s innovation lab, Joris and his team started working with Kubernetes and cloud technologies as early as 2016. They were also early adopters of serverless computing, researching the cost efficiency of solutions like AWS Lambda. Eventually, Joris and Ortec Finance’s CTO revised the entire enterprise technology strategy and made the case for adopting cloud-native and event-driven technologies company-wide.
Adapting cloud-native technologies company-wide is now widely supported by learning communities like Kube By Example (KBE), which addresses training needs across skill levels and a broad range of skill sets. First, completing fundamental training, such as KBE's Kubernetes Fundamentals course, is highly recommended. Gaining familiarity with Kubernetes and cloud-native concepts also helps maximize training efficiency, which you can. The availability of open educational resources to upskill engineers and transform organizational culture has made the transition to modern architectures more feasible. Going through initial training establishes a baseline understanding and common vocabulary across teams. With a shared understanding in place, teams can explore more advanced topics at their own pace. They can then put these concepts into practice through collaborative hands-on workshops and hackathons. This community-first learning approach accelerates upskilling and fosters an internal community of practice.
Standardizing Processes with Containers
One of the main benefits Ortec Finance has gained from adopting container technologies like Kubernetes is the standardization of processes. According to Joris, “Now our CI/CD architecture is almost the same for Java web as for the back end of desktop applications. And that's way easier to maintain if everyone ships their stuff into containers.”
Ortec Finance has a mix of web applications, APIs, and traditional desktop software. In the past, they had separate tooling and processes for each type of product. By putting everything into containers, they’ve been able to reuse tooling and streamline CI/CD pipelines regardless of the application type.
Easing the Transition for Teams and Customers
While the technology behind Kubernetes and cloud-native architectures has become straightforward to implement, transitioning teams and customers is still challenging. When onboarding a new product or team to their cloud-native stack, Ortec Finance runs “college tours” with tailored training for both engineers and end customers.
Joris acknowledges that the transformation to cloud-native technologies takes time for most companies. For example, even Netflix took 6-7 years to fully transition from on-premises to the cloud. The real challenges are updating delivery processes, sales practices, and helping the broader workforce adapt. Ortec Finance is still working to optimize their GitHub flow and release processes to match the needs of different product teams, like those dealing with configuration and slower release cycles.
Visualizing Complex Cloud Architectures
Given the complexity of cloud-native architectures, Joris and his team do a lot of diagramming using tools to make processes tangible. Icons for Kubernetes, cloud providers, and other technologies help quickly denote how different parts of the architecture fit together. While YAML is the standard for configuration, visualizations and whiteboarding are still important for discussing how the overall system should function.
Joris believes “it's about visioning the possible and then tailoring the processes and technologies.” Diagramming helps make that vision concrete before determining how to execute it.
The Future of Cloud in Finance
While finance has traditionally been slower to adopt new technologies, companies like Ortec Finance show that innovation is possible. According to Joris, “The technology is actually pretty easy at some point. The biggest challenge now is to change the humans, the organization.”
As Ortec Finance continues transitioning teams and products to their cloud-native stack, they have a lot of work left onboarding customers and ensuring all parts of the organization adapt. However, the benefits of standardization, ease of experimentation, and faster delivery far outweigh the challenges. The future of Fintech will depend on companies embracing the cloud, and Ortec Finance is positioning themselves ahead of the curve. Overall, Joris sees a lot of promise in how cloud-native technologies can bring innovation to finance.
Full video at: KBE Insider Amsterdam
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