Operating nationwide, Bank Millennium Poland is one of the leading Polish banks and sits at the heart of the Millennium Banking Group. In 2019, Bank Millennium Poland expanded its operations by acquiring the Polish business of Société Générale, thereby significantly increasing its consumer finance lending business line. Today, Bank Millennium Poland offers a wide range of account, lending, credit card, savings, investment, insurance and digital payment services to businesses and individuals. Committed to innovation, Bank Millennium Poland strives to offer the most convenient, personalized banking services in Poland.
In the highly competitive Polish banking sector, offering convenient and personalized services is key to success. To maintain its leading position in the market, Bank Millennium Poland set out to transform its underlying IT infrastructure from a virtualized architecture to a highly-reliable microservices environment, built with Kubernetes and managed using Rancher Prime. By embracing containerization, the bank has dramatically improved the efficiency of IT management tasks and enhanced its ability to participate in open banking innovation initiatives.
Powering the digital banking revolution
Over 50% of Polish adults use mobile banking apps to manage their money, and 40% exclusively prefer mobile apps over other digital and in-branch services.To keep pace with growing customer demand for secure, convenient and reliable digital banking services, Bank Millennium Poland is investing in online and mobile banking innovation.
Daniel Wasilewski, head of the Application Management Department, Bank Millennium Poland, comments: “We’re proud to be leading the way in digital banking. Compared to other banks, which are often squarely focused on providing traditional services via mobile banking apps, we’re taking the extra step of inventing new ways for customers to manage their money and pay for products and services.”
As well as delivering excellent services to customers, Bank Millennium Poland’s commitment to innovation is also driven by the desire to meet new open banking guidelines set out in the European Union’s Payment Services Directive II (PSD2). Designed to improve consumer choice and increase payment efficiency, this legislation requires banks and financial services providers to make key transactional and customer data available to third-party service providers securely and transparently.
“Ensuring that the IT infrastructure and systems supporting our services are open, secure, flexible and easy-to-manage is critical to our success,” continues Wasilewski. “Without the ability to quickly develop, test and deploy new services or integrate seamlessly with other partners in the financial services sector, we run the risk of being unable to meet PDS2 requirements or losing our competitive edge in the market.”
For many years, Bank Millennium Poland had built, managed and maintained its mission critical systems — from transactional applications to its mobile banking services — on a virtualized application infrastructure. Over time, the bank found that this approach made it difficult for the IT team to ensure consistent standards for application deployment, and it consumed a significant amount of compute and storage resources.
“From a technical perspective, our virtualized environment simply wasn’t scalable enough to support the pace of product innovation that we had planned,” adds Wasilewski. “What’s more, we found it hard to attract new IT talent to support this environment — especially as many IT professionals today prefer to work with containerized, flexible and open source solutions.”
“Rancher Prime was the only open source solution that could meet our stringent security requirements and deliver powerful multi-cluster and workload management capabilities.”
Why Rancher Prime?
To drive open banking innovation and boost scalability, Bank Millennium Poland decided to move to a containerized microservices IT infrastructure built on Kubernetes, and it looked for the best solution to manage and maintain this infrastructure. After reviewing a variety of Kubernetes container management solutions, Bank Millennium Poland decided to run a proofof-concept (POC) of Rancher Prime.
“Rancher Prime was recommended by new colleagues who had used the solution to support their operations for years,” says Wasilewski. “In our POC, we determined that Rancher Prime was the only open source solution that could meet our stringent security requirements and deliver powerful multi-cluster and workload management capabilities.”
Bank Millennium Poland decided to run its new Kubernetes microservices architecture on the solution. Today, the bank has four environments, with three clusters in each: one for development; one for testing; and another for production. Overall, Bank Millennium Poland has 70 worker nodes and up to 2,000 microservices powered by Kubernetes and Rancher Prime — including mission-critical transaction systems, its suite of mobile banking apps and mobile payment services.
To ensure adherence to best practices, Bank Millennium Poland worked closely with SUSE to find the most effective way to shape its new microservices architecture.
“The SUSE team helped during the design stage of our new environment,” comments Wasilewski. “They provided ideas and recommendations, as well as reviewing our architecture following implementation to identify and help us solve any problems.“ To master Rancher Prime, Bank Millennium Poland made extensive use of SUSE’s online support materials.
Wasilewski says: “SUSE’s online training platform helped us when we were learning how to run and operate Rancher Prime. Thanks to this material, we were able to learn how to effectively manage and administer Kubernetes clusters in Rancher Prime.”
Achieving next-level efficiency
Since moving its core IT systems to a containerized Kubernetes microservices environment managed by Rancher Prime, Bank Millennium Poland has increased the efficiency of its IT management activities while supporting open banking innovation.
“The Rancher Prime graphical interface is much simpler and easier to use than the standard Kubernetes command line and gives us a quick overview of our entire environment,” says Wasilewski. “This is particularly useful for new hires. Not only are we better positioned to attract talented IT professionals who prefer to work with cutting-edge solutions, but we have also made it easier for them to familiarize themselves with our unique IT infrastructure quickly.”
He continues: “Rancher Prime has helped us better track the utilization of our compute and storage resources and see how busy each of our clusters are. And with automatic resource management capabilities in Rancher Prime, we can ensure that our systems are always running in the optimal environment.”
By providing more detailed system management data, Rancher Prime has helped to eliminate repetitive, time-consuming management tasks and ensure standardized cluster deployments across Bank Millennium Poland.
What’s next for Bank Millennium Poland?
In the years ahead, Bank Millennium Poland plans to expand its use of Rancher Prime by transforming more of its legacy applications into microservices — a move that will help to further boost the efficiency of IT system management. In general terms, increased automation and speed in IT services support the growth objectives of the bank by enabling it to deliver new offerings and better value to customers faster.
Wasilewski concludes: “In the near future, we plan to run all of our core infrastructure in a microservices environment managed with Rancher Prime. Ultimately, this will help us to maximize the efficiency of our IT environment and further reduce manual administration tasks — freeing up our IT experts to focus on developing innovative banking services.”