To drive quality and responsiveness, BNP Paribas set out to give its IBM Z developers a modern IDE, together with autonomous control over – and responsibility for – their own development environments.
Deployed IBM Developer for z/OS® and IBM Z Development and Test Environment, combined with open source tools, to create a more efficient, agile, autonomous and user-friendly development environment.
Greater efficiencyin development and testing saves time and money
Greater autonomyand tool standardization boosts developer engagement and code quality
Modernizedenvironment will attract new developers and enable evolution in processes
Business challenge story
Bringing separate worlds together
In an increasingly deregulated global market, established banks face new kinds of challenges. Agile FinTech competitors continue to emerge, capitalizing on the opportunities created by the increased ease, for a client, of switching from one financial service provider to another. Given these challenges, large global banks like BNP Paribas – the world’s eighth-largest bank by assets – must constantly improve the quality and responsiveness of their digital offerings. Beating FinTech competitors to new opportunities depends in part on the ability to link long-established core systems with new front-end applications. Achieving the required speed and efficiency means modernizing development practices for those core systems and giving developers – including third-party providers – more autonomy in their development environments.
BNP Paribas runs its strategic core banking applications and databases exclusively on the IBM Z enterprise server platform. Recognizing that this environment was lagging behind the bank’s distributed systems in terms of the ease and efficiency of software development, BNP Paribas embarked on a major modernization project.
Abdelhakim Loumassine, Head of the Mainframe Division at BNP Paribas says, “We wanted to resolve the day-to-day challenges for developers in the IBM Z environment and respond to their pain points. But the bigger picture is creating a change in culture to align with DevOps principles. It’s really about bringing together the worlds of Z and open systems to create a single set of processes and approaches for developers.”
Reviewing the existing landscape, BNP Paribas found that its developers on the Z platform faced challenges around both capacity constraints and the requirement to use outdated tools with limited standardization, performance and user-friendliness. The bank aimed to consolidate the existing toolset in order to increase productivity in the development and functional testing phases. BNP Paribas also wanted to increase the quality of final software, in part by enabling more in-depth regression testing, and to make IBM Z a more intuitive platform for newly recruited developers.
“The IBM Z platform offers exceptional performance and resilience – our infrastructure has never, ever failed,” says Loumassine. “We wanted to protect and sustain that value by providing new capabilities to developers.”
The core-systems modernization project was initially executed within BNP Paribas Partners for Innovation (BP2I, a joint venture held equally by BNP Paribas and IBM) and for retail banking in France, with plans to extend it across the whole bank over time. The project has four fundamental guiding principles: to give developers autonomy, to engage developers by giving them responsibility, to modernize the development and test environment through rationalization and automation, and to converge the development approaches and tools for the enterprise-systems and open-systems environments.
“By deploying open tooling on our IBM Z platform, we aimed to enable developers from the open and Z worlds to speak the same language,” says Loumassine. “But the tools are not an end in themselves; ultimately, they are the means by which we will achieve our objective of a new culture and new ways of working.”
The core platform at BNP Paribas was built up over decades, and the steady accretion of processes and tools had created a static environment for developers. This led to a tendency to keep doing things in the same way as before, which meant that developers could not match the agility of their peers in the open-systems world.
“We wanted to be disruptive and completely reinvent the role of core-systems developer,” recalls Loumassine. “Breaking the ingrained habits of the past was not without risk, so we worked closely with IBM throughout the project. Building on our existing close relationship with IBM France, we engaged the IBM Z Labs in the US, which proved very responsive and fast at solving our challenges.”
To modernize its development and testing practices on IBM Z, BNP Paribas deployed IBM Developer for z/OS as its new integrated development environment (IDE), together with IBM Z Development and Test Environment for flexible development and testing, plus IBM InfoSphere® Optim™ solutions for data management. The bank is rolling out the open-source Git tool as its source code management (SCM) solution, and is looking into deploying IBM Application Discovery and Delivery Intelligence to measure code coverage during testing and to map applications during environment reviews.
“As we roll out the new tools, we’re already seeing significant efficiency gains in the writing and testing of code,” comments Loumassine. “More important in the longer term, we’re giving developers autonomy and control. They are now responsible for setting up their own development environments, and we can give them rights/roles over those environments that it would have been too risky—perhaps even impossible—to give them before on classic LPARs.”
Efficiencies created by the switch to IBM Developer for z/OS are also being re-invested in quality – in particular, by improving the duration and coverage of regression testing. Ultimately, better testing will improve the quality and robustness of software released to end-users, and reduce the need for downstream fixes.
BNP Paribas has also deployed IBM z/OS Connect Enterprise Edition as its strategic tool for exposing IBM Z services as RESTful APIs that can be called and consumed by other applications. “The modernization project improves our understanding of and control over services running on our enterprise systems,” says Loumassine. “The more we can expose applications and business logic running on IBM Z, the more value we can add to the business and to our clients.” With agile, modern development practice and services in place, BNP Paribas can now seamlessly use business critical data and transactions on IBM Z within its hybrid cloud strategy.
Everything in one place
Introducing IBM Developer for z/OS has completely changed the development workspace at BNP Paribas, providing a modern environment with a standardized, user-friendly interface. This is reinforced by using Git, the de facto market standard for SCM, which means that new recruits immediately feel comfortable in the IBM Z environment.
“Previously, enterprise-systems developers had a dozen or so tools, so they were always losing time switching and re-focusing between them,” says Loumassine. “We are now building up a true IDE, with all the tools in a single interface, so that people have everything they need at their fingertips. This represents a major cultural change, because it puts all our developers on the same footing.”
With real-time code testing, developers can now see potential code issues much earlier than before – the “shift left” principle in DevOps – enabling faster and easier resolution. Developers also have far greater autonomy in a highly graphical and interactive development environment, creating a more satisfying and productive workspace.
“Users can organize their environment exactly as they want it to be,” says Loumassine. “This makes the enterprise systems much more attractive to new recruits, and it increases the efficiency of existing developers. We also now offer more automation in testing. For example, developers can run tests on anonymized data sourced from a copy of the production database. IBM InfoSphere Optim extracts and injects the data into their development environment; these processes are under the direct control of the developers.”
Loumassine concludes, “As we continue to modernize the development environment for our IBM Z platform, the benefits in terms of control, autonomy, quality, speed and efficiency will continue to grow, adding business value. At the same time, we are giving our teams the agility to better respond to new business demands, and ensuring that we have market-standard technologies and the same tools, mindsets, and competencies across all our environments.”
BNP Paribas S.A. can trace its history back to 1848, when the Banque Nationale de Paris (BNP) was established. Following a merger with Paribas in 2000, the group has grown to be the world’s eighth largest bank by assets. Offering both retail and investment banking services, the group has activities in more than 70 countries and employs approximately 200,000 people. In France, BNP Paribas runs more than 2,200 branches and 3,200 ATMs, serving more than six million French households.