Why DevOps isn’t a level playing field for financial services and insurance

Redgate recently published the 2021 State of Database DevOps report which, for the last five years, has followed the rise in DevOps and the challenges organizations face when adopting it for both application and database development.

Based on a survey of thousands of IT professionals from around the world, it also provides the opportunity to dive a little deeper into how those challenges vary sector by sector. This year was no different and the most revealing insights for the Financial Services and Insurance sectors are highlighted in an accompanying whitepaper.

How Financial Services businesses can stay ahead in the race to digital transformation reveals that their take up of DevOps is higher than other sectors, which is promising. However, what really struck me when reading the whitepaper was that while the Financial Services and Insurance sectors vary from other sectors, they also vary from each other in three key ways.

The obstacles to introducing DevOps

While 74% of organizations across all sectors have introduced DevOps in some way, this rises to 81% in Financial Services and 84% in Insurance. This is impressive, but obstacles still remain when implementing or enhancing their DevOps initiatives. The three leading obstacles are the same for every sector, but a slightly different picture appears when taking a closer look at Financial Services and Insurance:

As can be seen, the main obstacle for businesses in these sectors is the disruption to workflows, where it is six percentage points ahead of other sectors. Lack of alignment between Dev and Ops is also a bigger issue for those in Insurance, but the lack of skills is less prevalent in the sector than all others, including Financial Services, for which it is a much bigger worry.

This indicates that the higher take-up of DevOps in Financial Services and Insurance has probably ‘cemented in’ workflows and practices, and extending or improving DevOps processes is thus more difficult, particularly for those in Insurance. However, businesses in the Insurance sector have more skilled people in their IT teams, so they should be able to overcome to alignment issue more easily than others.

Including the database in DevOps

Automating the delivery of database changes by including it in DevOps is a clear ambition for organizations in every sector in the Database DevOps report. The main reason for doing so is to increase the speed of delivery of changes, cited by 21% of respondents. However, this rises to 25% in Financial Services, and 30% in Insurance.

A similar disparity is seen when looking at the major challenges for introducing continuous delivery of database changes. Across all sectors, 31% of organizations see the biggest challenge being the complexity of the database. This edges up to 32% in Financial Services but leaps to 39% in Insurance. Conversely, the second biggest challenge cited by 22% across all sectors is a lack of resources to automate the delivery process. This rises to 23% in Financial Services, but falls to 18% in Insurance.

When looking at the top concerns that arise when integrating database changes into a DevOps process, another interesting anomaly arises. Across all sectors, 33% of organizations state their major issue is synchronizing application and database changes. However, this drops to 29% in Financial Services, and 21% in Insurance. In the Insurance sector, the number one issue is, instead, overcoming different approaches to application and database development.

We can see here that Financial Services and Insurance businesses are ahead of other sectors in synchronizing application and database development in order to increase the speed of delivery of changes.

They each face different challenges going forward, however. In Financial Services, the lack of skills we saw earlier is exacerbated by a lack of resources. In Insurance, the complexity of large, legacy databases is holding them back.

Migrating to the cloud

Last year saw a big move to the cloud across all sectors, partly driven by the pandemic and the need to innovate more quickly. The latest Database DevOps report showed that the percentage of companies and organizations stating they are exclusively or mostly in the cloud, or have a combination of cloud and on-premises servers, is at its highest since we started asking about cloud usage.

Across all sectors, 42% of organizations continue to host their servers either partly or wholly on-premises, but this rises to 49% in Financial Services, and 45% in Insurance. While 25% of those in all sectors now host their databases mostly or all in the cloud, this also falls to 19% in in Financial Services and 15% in insurance.

To counter this, 58% of those in Financial Services expect their cloud usage to increase over the next year, compared to 50% across all sectors, but it falls to 49% in Insurance. This indicates that the issue has been recognized among those in Financial Services and they are now making a move to catch up with other sectors. The Insurance sector is lagging behind, however, probably because their legacy databases are less suited to cloud hosting.

That was my take on the differences between the Financial Services and Insurance sectors on their journey to DevOps. For a closer look into the challenges – and the opportunities – they face when adopting DevOps, read our latest whitepaper. And for more information about how Redgate can help you on your journey, visit our solutions pages.