The beginning of the Deutsche Börse Group essentially goes back to the history of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange—one of the world’s largest trading centers for securities. Trace the Group from 16th century trade fairs to today, and you’ll find the revolutions in currency, government, and technology underpinning our financial institutions. Today, Deutsche Börse is among the top four financial market infrastructure providers in the world and offers its customers a wide range of products, services and technologies covering the entire value chain of financial markets.
Of course, Renaissance financiers couldn’t have predicted the current scope of Deutsche Börse—or the breadth of people, data, and technology behind the company’s services. The global enterprise employs around 6,000 people, including nearly 2,000 IT and development staff distributed around the world from Beijing to Chicago. Market infrastructure providers are, first and foremost, technology businesses. State-of-the-art IT solutions are at the heart of all Deutsche Börse Group offerings. The Group is adopting innovative approaches to enhance its systems. In everything they do, the reliability of their systems and compliance with regulatory requirements are the top priority.
For years, software teams at Deutsche Börse worked across decentralized code repositories. Developers found it difficult to share ideas or collaborate on a single code base. And in recent years, this setup started to conflict with the team’s larger imperative: to build innovative digital experiences that go beyond their customers’ expectations. By 2016, leadership decided that they needed to fundamentally change how their software teams work together. They kicked of this change by creating a modern DevOps pipeline and consolidating source code to one single source of truth: GitHub.
For a financial institution, “modernization” can be a daunting task. Choosing and implementing new tools can mean managing strict regulatory and security requirements. It’s a time-consuming process to be sure, but Deutsche Börse leadership, including SVP of Product Management Lars Bolanca, felt the benefits were worth the work. “We wanted every developer to have access to all the code and documentation,” he said. “Even in the financial industry, which is highly regulated, GitHub can help teams collaborate. People can work across organizational and legal entity boundaries. Instead of needing to have a steering committees to approve code, you simply assign one or more reviewer for your pull request before code runs through the DevOps pipeline and merges.”
Instead of requesting changes in an email, we can open a pull request on GitHub. There are some products in Deutsche Börse where this practice has reduced email volume by half.
The Deutsche Börse leadership decided to streamline developer collaboration, the switch to GitHub happened fast. Within four months, 70% of the company had moved their code repositories to GitHub. Today, at least 95% of Deutsche Börse’s code lives in GitHub Enterprise; only a few exceptions exist. And the team has moved quickly to take advantage of the flexibility of the cloud. They now develop and test software in the cloud, while production is still running on premise.
The company’s mix of on-premises and public cloud GitHub allows them the unique freedom to experiment. “What we have is a kind of “Piloting GitHub”. We use GitHub.com for any experimental work with external partners outside the Deutsche Börse firewall where we can build minimum viable products as proof of concept,” Bolanca explained. Once their ideas have been validated, developers can move their work behind the firewall into the Enterprise Github for implementation. As they got used to this new way of working, Bolanca’s group began to engage with the open source community, participating in several projects with external partners including Google, Microsoft, and AWS.
Team leaders were also interested in GitHub for its ability to build a complete DevOps process, allowing them to automate services with tools their developers were already using. “It was the baseline for running an automated DevOps Cisco Integrated Management Controller (CIMC). In the past, it was all done manually. We were copying code into different applications. Now we’ve converted our entire DevOps toolchain into an automated software deployment process—all triggered through GitHub. Our code goes through Jenkins, SonarQube, and more, depending on the product.”
Bolanca also enjoys a leaner inbox as his team centralizes communication. On GitHub, developers and other stakeholders can discuss feedback, implementation details, and roadmaps right alongside their code. “Instead of requesting changes in an email, we can open a pull request on GitHub. There are some products in Deutsche Börse where this practice has reduced email volume by half.”
With code and collaboration in one place, Deutsche Börse developers can also version their documentation including audit-trail as they update their software. Robust application documentation—including security concepts, risk assessments, certifications, API descriptions, and more—all lives on GitHub. “Whenever you make a code change, you also change the respective documentation,” Bolanca noted.
As a financial services institution, Deutsche Börse must also be in regulatory compliance. “There needs to be transparency around what developers build and where they build it,” Bolanca explained. “There are a lot of mandatory processes and requirements in the financial industry for auditing and documentation. With GitHub, we can properly document who made changes and who approved them.” This documentation also keeps their code audit-ready when the need arises.
GitHub continues to gain popularity at Deutsche Börse. The platform has not only changed how the team works but also how they grow. Bolanca estimates that at least 90% of the IT-related jobs posted by Deutsche Börse have “GitHub” somewhere in the description. As he sees it, GitHub will continue to connect his team with code, expertise, and new ideas now and in the years to come. “GitHub really matters,” he said. “We couldn’t work without it.”
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