Inside Bank of America’s IT transformation

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Bank of America is on a journey to embrace a software-defined infrastructure

Over the past decade Bank of America has grown by leaps and bounds internally and through an array of mergers and acquisitions. From a technical standpoint, that growth has created a complex and disparate set of data centers, computing architectures and vendor relationships.

For CTO David Reilly, there was an obvious goal: Standardize on more efficient infrastructure. For a company that spends $3 billion investing in new technology development  each year – nearly double the amount it did five years earlier – any reduced expenditures translate directly to improved bottom line profitability for the bank. Transitioning to a shared virtualized computing platform not only drove savings in the IT organization, but net profit for the bank. But soon Reilly realized that standardizing and virtualizing was not enough. He wanted to start all over again.

Bank of America had to get to a point where it is as agile, flexible and efficient as young, web-scale companies, Reilly believed. “It’s not enough to make what we’ve got better,” he concluded. “We actually have to get to a point where we could almost completely discard (our infrastructure) and move to a brand new, greenfield environment, unencumbered by any of the history or legacy of our existing footprint.”

Reilly isn’t alone in thinking that legacy infrastructure just isn’t cutting it anymore. In 2011 social media juggernaut Facebook started a community foundation named the Open Compute Project (OCP), which aims to create a set of standards for commodity infrastructure components that organizations can assemble together themselves. That’s opposed to buying racks and stacks of infrastructure from the traditional IT vendors.

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