Next year, Capital One will mark the final phase of its shift to the cloud by shutting down its last three data centers, George Brady, who leads the banking giant’s tech strategy, told Data Center Knowledge.
“We are completely all-in on the public cloud, and we’ll exit the last of our data centers next year,” Brady said in an interview in Las Vegas, where he came to speak at the Gartner IT Infrastructure, Operations & Cloud Strategies conference.
Capital One has been one of the biggest poster children for large, traditional enterprises embracing public cloud services, and it’s embraced them stronger than most of its peers. While the dominating narrative of recent years has been about enterprises finding it impossible to move all their computing workloads to the cloud, opting ultimately to keep at least some infrastructure in their own data centers, Capital One is an example of a big American corporation whose cloud strategy has overcome such constraints.
It had just opened its eighth data center when Brady joined the company in 2014, charged with architecting the cloud strategy. Capital One’s data centers were “multimegawatt sites in various states in both the Midwest and the East Coast,” he said.
The company was already about a year and a half into a seven-year digital transformation process when he came onboard. There was a “struggling private cloud initiative” at Capital One when he joined, and six months later the private cloud was gone.
Digital transformation meant adopting agile software-development practices, doubling the amount of software engineers – there are now about 10,000 working for the company, Brady said – and embracing public cloud.
While Capital One does use other cloud providers to some extent, its primary provider is Amazon Web Services. Today, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud have the infrastructure scale to match AWS’s, but when the bank’s cloud strategy was starting to take shape, Amazon had the only cloud platform with the geographic reach and the level of technical maturity that met Capital One’s needs, Brady explained.
While savings hasn't been the main reason for getting out of its own data centers – more than anything, it's been to take advantage of the cloud's technical capabilities – he does expect to see a substantial reduction in operating costs once the last three data centers – in the Midwest and in Virginia – are off the books.
Capital One’s trust in AWS doesn’t appear to have been affected by the theft of personal data of about 100 million Capital One customers in the US and 6 million in Canada earlier this year. The bank was storing the data in the Amazon cloud, and former AWS employee Paige Thompson was arrested and accused by the FBI of hacking Capital One’s and 30 other organizations’ cloud accounts.