Cloud as an opportunity to fundamentally change the way we operate

At the end of 2018, we announced a plan to make our firm more agile through cloud computing so that we could support clients with leading edge digital solutions in an increasingly digital world. Today we’re well ahead of that plan.

17 Feb 2021

With more than 50% of our computing between private and public cloud, we are well ahead of schedule and our work has enabled us to produce platforms that have helped our clients navigate Covid and stay ahead of the game in 2021. Cloud has been the basis for a fundamental transformation, and here we’re going to let you know exactly how, and why it’s a differentiator for us and our clients.

Rule of thirds

The strategy we set at the end of 2018 is to move within four years toward a cloud setup with 1/3 of applications hosted in on-premises private cloud solutions, 1/3 in the public cloud, and 1/3 remaining on our mainframe / dedicated infrastructure. With these objectives clear from the outset, we have been able to progress rapidly and are ahead of schedule.

One enabler to reach that goal was entering a strategic partnership with Microsoft on public cloud. In 2019, we were a first mover by being an anchor client for the Microsoft Cloud in Switzerland. By helping to physically bring Azure servers to Switzerland we unlocked many more use cases for cloud services in our business.

To date, over 50% of our compute power is delivered in the cloud. At the moment, we have over 600 technology components hosted on the public Azure cloud – with hundreds more in the pipeline. As our expertise in migrating grows, so does the speed. Cloud also enables us to increase the collaboration with the ecosystem. For example, in the DevOps area, where we entered into a collaboration with GitLab last year, we aim to develop a best on the street developer experience in the cloud.

Cloud is a pillar of our digital journey and I'm proud to see how fast we are moving. In the past year in particular, we have proven to be truly agile, innovative and resilient – including our cloud achievements,

says Mike Dargan, UBS Head of Group Technology.

Prepared for the unprecedented

Our progress in cloud computing has prepared us for the unpredictable, making us more flexible and stable during the pandemic and better able to deal with peak loads. For example, we have seen greater capacity in dealing with high trading volumes. At the same time, we were able to ensure that business-critical applications remained extremely stable, with an availability of >99.999%. That places us among the leaders in the financial industry.

Furthermore, by accelerating the roll out of our cloud-based employee tech setup 'anytime, anywhere, from any device,' we enabled 95% of our employees to work from home. We have seen more than 60,000 users logged on simultaneously and an enormous increase in use of communications tools (e.g., three million Skype calls per week).

Further benefits of cloud adoption

Mike Dargan summarizes the benefits of cloud:

Cloud is not just another place where we host software and data – cloud represents a once in a lifetime opportunity to fundamentally change how we operate. It lets us reinvigorate our estate, enables greater agility for our engineers, prompts us to reimagine how we will build our applications for our clients.

Cloud makes us more flexible, stable and cost transparent. It facilitates interactions with other ecosystems and the further modernization of our platforms. All of this is great for our clients – we can respond faster to their needs and continue to maintain security into the future.

A fruitful partnership for UBS and MSFT

UBS takes great benefits of the advantages of a public cloud: more agility, heightened security as well as boosted efficiency and scalability. First, it is obviously much more efficient if a public cloud provider maintains the infrastructure for several firms than every firm maintains their own – where that is feasible from a regulatory and governance point of view of course. Second, the beauty of a public cloud for us as provider of financial services is that we can buy in huge amounts of computing power when we need it and do not have to maintain the necessary infrastructure when we do not need it.

Relating to these achievements, Mike Dargan, summarizes the collaboration with Microsoft as follows: "Despite the complexities that come with large scale, multi-year digital transformation programs, the great progress we've made with Microsoft is showing its value – for us and, ultimately, for our clients."

Scott Guthrie, executive vice president, Cloud + AI at Microsoft, appreciates the innovative spirit of the collaboration with UBS: "The strong collaboration and feedback loop between UBS and Microsoft engineers has not only accelerated UBS’ cloud journey, but it has also helped us strengthen our own platforms based on the challenges we’re able to solve together. We have moved fast, client-oriented, and with the necessary focus on details. Together, we have set new standards.”

As we and Microsoft continue our partnership, we expect to see an accelerated rate of innovation and continued progress on our cloud and digital journey.

Check out the video below to hear Mike Dargan and Scott Guthrie talk about the collaboration between UBS and Microsoft:

Examples of cloud adoption:

  • We see direct client benefits from cloud technology – e.g. in the research area – such as our Evidence Lab that is based on big data and AI and provides next level insights to clients.
  • DevCloud complements UBS's cloud journey, which is targeted at developing a market leading, dynamic development experience – with the ultimate goal to faster produce high quality solutions for clients, while increasing efficiency. By the middle of this year, most of our software engineering will happen on our cloud-based platform.
  • We have 24 industry-leading cloud-native applications that demonstrate quick, advanced, and scalable computing capabilities as well as better insights into costs and usage and enhanced user experience. Cloud computing has been an enabler for our technological growth for a number of years helping us become more efficient, more agile and enabling us to give the best service to our clients. Now cloud is becoming more of a differentiator for us as we’re seeing cloud-native solutions such as UBS My Hub External winning the Banking Tech Award for Best Use of Cloud.
  • Our risk management platform, which requires enormous computing power to run millions of calculations daily, has seen a 100% increase in calculation speed and a 40% save in infrastructure costs, gaining nearly infinite scale within minutes. This means we have enabled employees to make quicker, more informed decisions for clients, whilst becoming more cost efficient.
  • Through the use of a cloud-based data lake, we have been able to deliver a data platform that delivers data-as-a-service to employees, who can, in turn, perform large-scale calculations and analytics.
  • Over 60 Azure services have been curated and brought into our ecosystem. Early adopters of these services are quick to recognize the speed as well as the ease of deployment and adoption.
  • The impact of cloud adoption is also being felt by our employees who are learning new skills focused on cloud technologies. To date and together with Microsoft, we have trained over 3,000 engineers in a wide range of cloud topics and certifications.