ABN AMRO Relies on XebiaLabs for an Automated, Scalable Continuous Delivery Pipeline for Private Cloud Applications

The Environment

  • XebiaLabs DevOps Platform
    (XL Release and XL Deploy modules)

  • Bitbucket
  • Jenkins
  • Jira

  • SonarQube
  • ServiceNow
  • Nexus
  • And many other DevOps tools

The Challenge

ABN AMRO is one of the largest banks in Europe, with an IT organization of 5,000 employees and over 400+ dedicated Agile teams. A few years ago, the bank recognized that in order to scale their software delivery processes, they would need the ability to automate their end-to-end Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) pipelines all the way to production across many tools and teams, while increasing efficiency and ensuring that compliance and security requirement were met.

ABN-AMRO-case-study_Page_1

The Solution

The XebiaLabs DevOps Platform is now the backbone of ABN AMRO’s CD pipeline, delivering a fast, scalable, standardized, and secure software delivery process across the organization.

Results

  • Over 800 applications are on-boarded for fully automated deployment
  • Release lead times reduced by up to 50%
  • High-privilege access no longer required to deploy applications
  • Visibility into the entire CI/CD pipeline
  • Built-in audit tracking makes it easy and low effort to demonstrate compliance
  • Multiple CI/CD tools efficiently orchestrated to deliver pipelines to production

“Our CI tool worked great for automating the CI pipeline, but it didn’t give us control over our release and deployment processes.”

—Stefan Simenon, Head of IT Software Development & Tooling

Background: CI/CD Growing Pains

Transitioning to DevOps is a tall order for any organization, especially if you’re making the switch as one of the biggest banks in Europe. ABN AMRO Bank did just that, transforming a large IT organization in just three years.

The journey began when the bank realized that, to keep up with a fiercely competitive market, they would need to transform their delivery processes from waterfall to a full, mature CI/CD system. ABN AMRO’s software development team started by implementing a small Jenkins CI pipeline to manage code commits, with the end result being a deployable artifact stored in a Nexus repository. While this process increased speed and quality in the pilot CI pipeline, deploying artifacts required manual checks, which created bottlenecks when ABN AMRO tried to scale across their other software delivery efforts.

“One thing we learned during our CI pilot was that giving teams the right tools does not mean you’re also giving them fully automated processes across the board,” said Stefan Simenon, Head of IT Software Development & Tooling. “Our CI tool worked great for automating the CI pipeline, but it didn’t give us control over our release and deployment processes.”

To accomplish their goal of a full CI/CD transformation, they needed to expand beyond their CI tool and implement a robust enterprise solution.

“XebiaLabs has given us visibility into all of our release and deployment engagement activities, which allows us to control the process and quality.”

—Alma Stravers

Finding a Solution That Could Do It All

The team at ABN AMRO began to research several CD solutions. Certain features were critical to their strategy. One key problem was that they were dealing with many manual activities during the release management process, and these activities were not transparent to them. Thus, the new solution would have to enable them to visualize their entire CD pipeline, including both automated and manual tasks. They also needed clear visibility into who was doing what, whether security and compliance requirements were being met, where the bottlenecks were, and so on. The solution would also need to allow them to standardize and automate releases and deployments across the CD pipeline so they could easily scale.

After researching several vendors, they identified the XebiaLabs DevOps Platform as the one solution that met all their requirements. It is now the backbone of ABN AMRO’s CD delivery cycle. The platform’s XL Release module integrates all technologies in the pipeline, including Jira, Jenkins, Nexus, Bitbucket, SonarQube, Maven, IntelliJ IDEA, WebStorm, ServiceNow, and more, orchestrating releases from end-to-end. The XL Deploy module of the platform enables standardized, zero-touch deployments to all environments in their private cloud from test through production.

According to Alma Stravers, Head of Continuous Delivery at ABN AMRO, “With XebiaLabs, we’ve been able to give our teams more autonomy. Release templates, for example, allow us to offer standard pipelines teams can opt to use. Also, the availability of different templates offers flexibility, and we highly recommend that our delivery teams, who differ in level of maturity, use them. We set up an XL Expert group within ABN AMRO to regularly collect feedback to enhance the way our teams work with XL Release.”

“XebiaLabs has given us visibility into all of our release and deployment engagement activities, which allows us tocontrol the process and quality.”

The XebiaLabs DevOps Platform’s XL Release module integrates all technologies in the pipeline, including Jira, Jenkins, Nexus, Bitbucket, SonarQube, Maven, IntelliJ IDEA, WebStorm, ServiceNow, and more, orchestrating releases from end-to-end.

The XebiaLabs DevOps Platform Paves the Way to DevOps Maturity

ABN AMRO embarked on a journey to achieve a mature CI/CD pipeline that would allow them stay steps ahead of the competition. Using the XebiaLabs DevOps Platform, they were able to meet that goal, standardizing their releases and deployments, gaining visibility into all the activities and processes across the CI/CD pipeline, and giving their teams greater freedom to work on high-value activities that they like and that are good for the organization.

The bank still uses Jenkins to manage the code commits for CI in its pipelines, but now, the XebiaLabs DevOps Platform sits on top of the stack, picks up the deployable artifact from Nexus, and sets off automated processes for change management, functional testing, and ultimately deployment.

“XL Release has given us visibility into all of our release and deployment activities, which allows us to control the process and quality. Next to that, the easy automation of steps helps us achieve our ambition to deliver faster every time.”

– Alma Stravers, Head of Continuous Delivery

“All the Benefits We Hoped For”

The results of ABN AMRO’s CI/CD transformation are impressive. The organization now has over 800 applications on-boarded for automated deployments. Release lead times have been reduced by up to 50%. Deployments are not only automated, but are more secure as manual steps have been eliminated and high-privilege access is no longer required for deployments. In addition, because the XebiaLabs DevOps Platform builds in audit tracking, the bank can easily demonstrate to regulators that they’re in control of their release and deployment processes.

“XL Release has given us visibility into all of our release and deployment activities, which allows us to control the process and quality. Next to that, the easy automation of steps helps us achieve our ambition to deliver faster every time.

“I really like the partnership we have with the XebiaLabs team,” said Alma. “People are always ready to help when you need something, and we are happy with the new features in XL Release that we requested.”

Investing in the Future

Realizing the benefits of improved release lead times and faster times to market, ABN AMRO wants to scale even further in the coming year. Its online banking and mobile banking units now release software weekly, up from four times per year in their waterfall days. The bank wants to get to the point where it does daily releases and achieves zero production issues after releasing.

So, what are the keys to maturity? According to Alma, “Senior management commitment and involvement are crucial. You also need to decide upon the right quality gates and controls and invest in the right technology––like the XebiaLabs DevOps Platform.”

Learn More

Learn more about ABN AMRO in their DevOps Enterprise Summit presentation.