Danske Bank is a Danish multinational banking and financial services corporation with over 21,000 employees. Headquartered in Copenhagen, it is the largest bank in Denmark and a major retail bank in the northern European region helping 3.3 million personal and business customers and more than 2,300 corporate and institutional customers in 8 countries.
Danske Bank’s IT resilience team wanted a better way to manage its resilience activities. Like every major bank, it was seeing increasing regulatory scrutiny and needed to reduce the risk of incidents that could impact customers. The existing processes for this were effective but inefficient and manually intensive.
The first step on this journey was improving the performance of the bank’s Data Center Recovery testing, which was mainly being run using spreadsheets and Confluence. Using these methods they were only able to test and shut down around 130 services, taking 10 hours, which was neither fast nor efficient enough; the testing timelines removed available windows for other technical teams to perform changes or releases. The absence of effective workflow orchestration for the failover testing limited the organization to small, incremental activities due to the available resources and logistics.
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The IT Resilience team was introduced to Cutover via a partner and, after evaluating Cutover against other suppliers, they decided to onboard Cutover for Data Center Recovery testing as a first step towards building an operating model around resilience.
Using Cutover, the team orchestrated two large tests. For the first, they converted existing failover plans into a Cutover runbook containing 3,000 tasks. For the second, they took a different approach, uploading individual plans for each database service owner. Each owner could check on the progress of their team leading up to the event and, on the day of the event, the resilience team merged all of these plans into a large runbook so they could manage the event as a whole.
During the second test, they were able to cut down on time and effort, making sure the plan was correct and had been verified by all involved stakeholders. They were able to map the entire event in one runbook and see the entire process for that day, from start to finish, in one consistent view. Using Cutover also gave them the ability to dedicate resources at the right time, reducing waste.
Being able to map dependencies and see them on the node map view allowed the resilience managers to get a clear view of the entire process from start to finish. The filters provided personal views for each participant where they could view their task dependencies and the process flow for what they were involved in.
Following several training sessions with Cutover, the team went through a couple of rehearsal runs, identifying any changes that needed to be made, which enabled a smoother go live.
Dashboards provided real-time updates for all participants. For the orchestrators and stakeholders, milestone tasks provided a quick overview of each important operational resilience stage and what tasks were in progress or ready to be executed. This also allowed the resilience manager to check in and provide support proactively and efficiently.
Easy access and downloadable audits allowed the team to gather fine details on the timings of every task in the event as part of the post-event reporting and for evidential purposes.
Cutover gave the bank more confidence that they could successfully and quickly failover services between their data centers if the situation arose for real - as well as enabling them to prove this capability to the regulator more easily.
Since they started using Cutover in 2019, Danske Bank now has 500 monthly active users on the platform and can flip over 400 services in 14 hours - a 300% efficiency improvement over their previous methods. This is the latest stage of their journey of further maturing their resilience capabilities by defining and improving processes. For more information you can download the full Dankse case study here.
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