Westpac to start consolidating bank ops onto new core network within weeks

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Westpac to start consolidating bank ops onto new core network within weeks

Exclusive: Looks to complete transformation by end of 2022.

Westpac will kick off the third and final phase of its long-running core network transformation within weeks, when it starts migrating all its different business units to run off the new single core.

The core network transformation is one of two major programs of work run out of the bank’s secure network services function in Group Technology.

The transformation was first publicly revealed back in early 2019 as “a critical, roughly $100 million program to simplify, strengthen and modernise the bank’s core network.” 

“The three-stage ‘core network transformation’ program involves consolidating the bank’s 11 networks bolted together over the years through various corporate transactions, such as the 2008 St. George merger, down to one to reduce costs and enhance customer services,” Westpac said at the time.

iTnews can now reveal that Westpac will kick off the third stage within the next fortnight, with an aim of wrapping up the core network transformation fully by the end of 2022.

Westpac’s head of secure network services Wayne Bonett told iTnews that the new core is built on Cisco equipment.

“It's very large and very fast,” Bonett said.

“The core network transformation is about standing up our scalable future network to host all the bank's data centre hosting and applications. It's also about consolidating down what was previously duplicate infrastructure.

“Why it was called the core network transformation was it started with standing up the core itself, and then connecting all of the other environments into that core, and then leveraging network virtualisation to start to consolidate down environments. 

“That's an ongoing piece of work.”

Bonett characterised the three stages of the program as standing up the new core, standing up target security domains that connect into the core, and finally migrating everything into the new core.

“We're about to commence phase three in the coming weeks, so it's imminent,” he said.

“The target is to finish the whole lot by the end of 2022.”

Bonett characterised the core network transformation as an “efficiency and modernisation play”.

“What it will do is … enable faster connectivity between on-prem and off-prem systems because you will have more direct access,” he said.

“By that I mean, with 11 [legacy network] environments, you can imagine if you've set up a cloud service, then you need to somehow connect that into the 11 environments, which is very inefficient. “So as we consolidate, this will improve the speed at which we can connect our systems and make it less of an onerous activity, which will increase the speed of change for downstream projects across the bank.”

Westpac said in a statement that it had started transforming its network infrastructure 18 months ago “when software-defined network technology was deployed in data centres.”

“This paved the way for a shift towards greater cloud connectivity for all employees, increased efficiencies in network infrastructure across the bank, and enabled the SD-WAN technology rollout in branches,” it said.

The bank also said it is one-third of the way through a Cisco SD-WAN deployment to its 950 branch offices - part of a separate 'campus' network modernisation effort.

Separate to the core network transformation, secure network services is also overseeing a second major program of work around the renewal of managed services contracts with major partners.

The bank declined to comment on the progress of this work.

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