ING Direct bets big on private cloud

Online bank moves all its systems, including the critical core banking applications, to a cloud environment.

Online bank ING Direct has planted its tech operations entirely into a private cloud, transferring hundreds of applications and setting up to use public cloud in the future.

ING Direct has no bricks-and-mortar branches and has built up to 1.5 million customers here by offering cheap-to-maintain savings accounts and ­aggressive loan rates on home mortgages sold through ­brokers.

The 12-month private cloud project, called Zero Touch, cost in the “low tens of millions”, ­according to chief information officer Simon Andrews, who believes ING Direct is the only bank that has moved all its systems, including the critical core banking applications, to a cloud environment.

“We believe this project is unique,” said Mr Andrews. ING Direct’s Dutch parent has been following Zero Touch and is likely to roll it out globally. Zero Touch follows on from ING Direct’s Bank in a Box project in 2012, which allowed programmers to quickly spin up a copy of the bank’s digital operations for test and development purposes.

“Now our whole production environment operates that way — which is very much more complex,” Mr Andrews said.

ING Direct operates two data centres in NSW, and he said it was now possible to suffer an outage at one centre without online customers in the middle of a transaction noticing delays.

“We can switch live while you are making a transaction online from one server in one data centre to have it processed on another server in another data centre. I can switch within 10 minutes all of my appli­cations from North Ryde to Tuggerah.

“We still have all our customer data in those two data centres and no customer data leaves this bank,” said Mr Andrews, although he did not rule out placing some transaction loads with a public cloud provider in the future.

“First things first,we never outsource anything we don’t know how to run. We will ultimately move to a hybrid cloud.”