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How Deutsche Bank stays nimble amid the fintech boom

By Juan Loaiza

You hear a lot about how a wave of fintechs is promising to shake up financial services markets with new and novel services. But we’re also seeing something else happening—long-time financial services leaders reacting with tech-powered change of their own. 

Bernd Leukert is a great example. He came to Deutsche Bank two years ago with a clear mandate: Make the German banking giant’s global technology operation simpler, more effective, and less expensive. One aim of the overhaul, he says, is to help the 150-year-old institution compete with a burgeoning crop of mobile-centric startups that aim to take pieces of the traditional retail and commercial banking action.

Just like we’re seeing in other industries, the fintech newcomers are bringing financial products to market quickly by pulling together a collection of cloud services on which they build apps, in this case to serve the consumer and business lending and financial markets in new ways. 

Leukert, a high-profile hire from SAP, has served as Deutsche Bank’s chief technology, data and innovation officer since 2019, and says using the latest cloud technology as a service could pay similar dividends, especially compared to the older systems he’d inherited. 

So why not follow the fintechs and move completely into the public cloud? There are a number of reasons, including minimal disruption to robust and secure internal systems, and the fact that government-regulated European banks need to adhere to data sovereignty requirements that limit them from transferring certain sensitive financial data to public clouds. 

Leukert’s solution for Deutsche Bank: where it is not possible to migrate to the public cloud, bring state-of-the-art cloud services inside the bank’s own data centers by running on Oracle Exadata Cloud@Customer. Not only does Deutsche Bank benefit from a private cloud environment, it will simplify its database environment, continue to comply with data residency requirements, and reduce costs. A smart solution for critical financial data.

My team at Oracle has been building and refining Exadata database machines for over a decade, making sure they provide the best platform for running Oracle Database workloads. Now, that combination of hardware and software is the basis for Exadata Cloud@Customer, which lets a company access all the benefits of Oracle’s enterprise public cloud infrastructure using Exadata systems that are located inside the customer’s data center. Organizations use the services as if they were accessing Oracle Cloud with the same simplicity, agility, and pay-per-use pricing. By doing so, says Leukert, Deutsche Bank gets the flexibility to adapt and scale critical services at speed, as well as derive better data insights.

The right choice

Most of Deutsche Bank’s applications run on Oracle databases, which store more than 40 petabytes of its data, so Exadata Cloud@Customer offered a compelling option for moving those workloads to the cloud. 

My team built Oracle Exadata to run Oracle Database at large scale with peak performance and ultra-critical availability. Once on Exadata Cloud@Customer, the bank can standardize on a newer release of the database that supports the data types and data models—such as JSON, XML, Graph, Text, IoT, and Blockchain—for building modern, customer-centric apps, as well as having instant access to APEX, a popular enterprise low code platform. It’s all part of how we’re rethinking database architecture to simplify and accelerate application development.

Other enterprise cloud providers are scrambling to offer similar on-premises versions of their cloud services, but they find it to be a technical challenge. That doesn’t surprise me—we’ve been refining and optimizing our Exadata platform for over a decade, and there’s nothing easy about that work. That investment is why we trust Exadata as the foundation for Oracle’s public cloud database infrastructure.  

Over and over again, we’ve seen that companies globally adopt Exadata Cloud@Customer to comply with stringent data control regulations or company policies while still experiencing cloud benefits. 

Examples of this trend include Lalux, a Luxembourg-based insurance company; Caja Los Andes, which administers social security benefits as well as banking and insurance services in Chile; and TISCO, a leading investment bank in Thailand. TISCO uses the latest version of the platform to consolidate their business-critical Oracle databases to a single high-performance, high availability cloud platform in their own data center. At the release of our ninth generation of Exadata, TISCO and many others praised the platform

A common draw for Exadata Cloud@Customer users is our Autonomous Database, because it helps financial institutions embrace the changing tech landscape in finance. It does this by offering self-tuning and self-managing capabilities that free IT staff to use their skills on more strategic and high-value activities.

Deutsche Bank’s complete migration to Exadata Cloud@Customer is expected to save them triple-digit millions of euros in costs over a number of years, while it continues to comply with European data protection rules. Leukert describes the relationship this way: 

“Data is fundamental to how we manage our operations, anticipate the needs of our customers, and design new products and services,” he says. “Our collaboration with Oracle to modernize our databases will play an important role in our overall technology transformation.”

This is how a pillar of financial stability stays nimble. 

Juan Loaiza is executive vice president, mission-critical database technologies at Oracle.