At last week’s ONUG Fall 2015 conference in New York City, Morgan Stanley CTO Tsvi Gal described how his company was the victim of its own past engineering successes.
By taking pride in developing its own systems and putting a focus on internal development, Morgan Stanley inadvertently closed the walls around its systems.
“In reality, the worst vendor lock-in is our own,” Gal said during his keynote address. “We all say we don’t want to be locked into a certain vendor because we may want to change at a certain point. We are basically locked into our own environment.”
Morgan Stanley has 75,000 physical servers, 60,000 employees (all with their own databases), and uses about 70,000 developers around the world, Gal said. Morgan Stanley was one of the first Wall Street companies to embrace Linux — it’s 85 percent Linux-based today, and it’s known for building its own systems.
“Our philosophy is build when you can differentiate and buy when you cannot,” he said. “We are really a technology company that is also engaged in banking.”
In order to unlock its systems, Morgan Stanley, as well as the industry in general, needs to move towards open frameworks, said Gal. That means coming up with standards that establish patterns for when something should or shouldn’t be used for each network component.
With open frameworks in mind, Morgan Stanley is moving toward an environment that will have recognizable APIs.
“We call it infrastructure-as-code, and this is difficult for us. All of the software-defined everything takes the same principles. APIs are critical for us because they allow us to make decisions at a higher level and move stuff.”
Most of Morgan Stanley’s applications and systems are stateful, but they needed to be stateless, Gal said. Stateful applications defeat the purpose of openness in a network, as well as defeating the purpose of mobility.
Gal said more work needs to be done by ONUG and the industry at large in regard to developing and adopting open frameworks. One of the biggest barriers to open frameworks is that businesses and organizations are reluctant to embrace new technologies.
“We need to change, and we need the community to change,” he said. “If the [ONUG] group as a whole starts working on the creation of open frameworks, it will not only benefit us but the entire industry.”