With 17 million digital banking clients, Capitec is one of South Africa’s leading retail banks. Through its innovative digital banking solution—Global One—the company empowers clients to transact, save, insure, and access credit in real time, online and on mobile devices. Headquartered in Stellenbosch, Capitec has more than 850 brick-and-mortar branches and employs over 15,000 people.
When COVID-19 forced bank branches across South Africa to close their doors, Capitec stood firm and retained all its staff by repurposing their roles. The bank used the pandemic as an opportunity to fast-track its digital initiatives — one of which was to re-look at its on-premises container solution. Future-proofing this environment would realize multiple benefits such as higher availability, faster time to market for products, reduced cognitive load on developers, and reduced operational work for the internal platform team, with the end goal of a better customer experience. To free its platform team from time-consuming container management tasks and empower them to focus on cloud transformation, the bank is deploying Rancher Prime. Capitec predicts that the SUSE solution will enable greater self-service for developers— reducing the platform team’s workload by up to 60% and empowering them to accelerate cloud adoption.
The journey to containers in the cloud
To grow its retail banking services across South Africa, Capitec has adopted a digital-first strategy. As adoption of mobile devices grows, the organization is attracting customers across the country through its easy-to-use online and mobile experiences.
The global pandemic highlighted the importance of these digital channels, which allowed the bank to engage with customers during lockdowns and social distancing measures. During 2020, demand for these channels shot up by 60% in a matter of months, and the bank knew that it needed to be able to handle a long-term increase in transaction volumes.
To help achieve this goal, the organization planned to move the containerized environment that supports its digital services from an on-premises data center to a private cloud environment. However, time-consuming container management tasks threatened to derail this transformation effort. The bank’s platform team spent 60% of their working week on cluster management tasks to support its 500 developers. This manual work was a distraction from the planned cloud migration, so the bank looked for a more efficient approach.
“All the organizations we met with spoke very highly of Rancher Prime, which gave us the confidence the solution would meet our requirements.”
Selecting the right technology
To prepare for the move to cloud, Capitec decided to replace its existing container orchestration system with Kubernetes. By deploying Rancher Prime, the bank can equip its development teams to monitor their clusters, upgrade Kubernetes versions, and back up and recover degraded clusters — all from a single point of control.
Devandren Govender, Manager, Developer Platforms, Technology Services, explains: “We determined that deploying a new container management technology would allow us to maximize the benefit of Kubernetes. During our proof-of-concept exercise for Rancher Prime, we greatly appreciated the role-based access control and ease of use of the tool. No other solution we evaluated offered the same level of granularity and user experience, and we were confident that Rancher Prime would deliver an excellent experience for our developers and platform team alike.”
He adds: “Another aspect of the SUSE solution that really appeals to us is its ability to connect to other tools via APIs. For example, by integrating the Rancher Prime solution with GitLab, we can eliminate the need to build custom integrations in our Kubernetes environment —significantly improving the efficiency of our source control and deployment mechanisms.”
After speaking with several other financial services organizations in South Africa already using Rancher Prime, Capitec decided to move forward with deployment. “All the organizations we met with spoke very highly of Rancher Prime, which gave us the confidence the solution would meet our requirements,” recalls Govender.
Working with SUSE, Capitec took part in a scoping exercise to help determine the optimal licensing model to meet its business goals for the new private cloud environment.
“The SUSE team was extremely helpful in calculating the number of nodes we would need for our new cloud platform, which helped us to design a highly cost-efficient solution for Capitec,” says Govender. “Rancher Prime is also extremely intuitive, which makes it very easy to set up. In fact, we successfully implemented our non-production environment in the cloud using only SUSE and Rancher Community resources.”
Cutting management workloads by 60%
Today, Capitec is using Rancher Prime to manage 30 non-production Kubernetes clusters in its private cloud. The new solution lays the foundation for the company’s full migration to the cloud, which will take place within the next 12 months. Rancher Prime allows the bank’s developers to be much more independent from the platform team, so they can focus on developing reliable, high-quality services, while platform experts concentrate on the upcoming move to the cloud. For example, developers can now drill down into their clusters to troubleshoot stability issues and resolve them rapidly—all without the involvement of the platform team. When the bank moves Rancher Prime into production, it estimate that these capabilities will cut the team’s workload by up to 60%. The bank has also configured automated alerts in Rancher Prime to notify the relevant personnel if performance thresholds are breached, which will allow the IT team to fix issues before they have the chance to impact customer-facing services.
Reducing time to market by 20%
By reducing the number of dependencies between platform and development teams, Capitec predicts that it will be able to bring new products and services to market faster.
At the present time, Capitec’s developers rely on the platform team to deploy their services. However, once Capitec moves its production environment into the cloud and starts managing it with Rancher Prime, the platform team’s involvement in this process will be reduced, which could enable the bank to launch new customer services up to 20% faster.
What’s next for Capitec?
As Capitec races ahead with its cloud transformation, the bank is already planning for the future. In the long term, the organization aims to extend greater autonomy to its product teams — allowing them to manage their clusters using self-services in Rancher Prime.
“We are planning to engage SUSE to provide training for our product teams in the near future,” says Govender. “By equipping more of our people to use the capabilities of Rancher Prime to the full, we will remove barriers to innovation throughout the bank.”
Govender concludes: “One of the aspects of Rancher Prime that we value most is the unparalleled visibility it offers us — we can see all our Kubernetes clusters from a single pane of glass, and securely delegate cluster management to our users. We look forward to continuing our collaboration with SUSE, which will empower us to bring even higher-quality, more reliable digital services to banking customers across South Africa.”