CommBank CIO is major cloud fan


blog The Australian IT industry has been aware that Commonwealth Bank chief information officer and group executive of Enterprise Services Michael Harte has had a positive view of the incoming wave of cloud computing technologies. As early as April 2010, after all, Harte was attempting to work behind the scenes in Australia’s banking technology market to drive inter-bank cooperation with vendors and regulators on the issue.

But it hasn’t been until this week that the full extent of Harte’s enthusiasm for the medium has been made clear. As reported by iTNews and Computerworld, the CIO spoke at the Australian launch of Amazon’s Australian datacentre this week. But our personal favourite yarn on the topic comes from ZDNet, which quotes Harte as saying anti-cloud excuses are “absolute garbage. The publication reports (we recommend you click here for access to the full story):

“The security excuses, the regulatory excuses, the financial excuses; we’ve heard it too much,” said the CIO at yesterday’s AWS Customer Appreciation Day in Sydney.

When you consider the scale of CommBank’s operation — it uses pretty much every piece of technology product and service you could imagine; software from every major vendor; IT services from most of the majors; several different types of cloud computing; locally hosted data, data hosted overseas; in-house IT assets and outsourced; it becomes hard to argue with Harte’s perspective. In the CIO’s pantheon, cloud computing appears to be just another tool on his belt, and when you run an IT shop as large as CommBank’s, you need a great many tools indeed.

I suspect that Harte’s enthusiasm for the cloud has grown gradually after initial pilot deployments. If early trials perform well and save money, the incentive is there to expand your use of the technology as much as possible. Perhaps Harte should get together with Australia’s State and Federal Governments to detail some of the ways CommBank is using cloud computing. Australia’s slow-moving public sector could certainly use some of this innovative commercial thinking.

Michael Harte’s comments this week also do much to illustrate the maturity of so-called ‘public cloud’ offerings that vendors like Amazon have available in the market. A lot of IT professionals see such offerings as bargain basement — risky and not as robust as a true internal server deployment or even a managed service provided by a big vendor. The context of the CIO of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia speaking at an Amazon Web Services event — and in so vehemently a pro-cloud manner — should do much to validate the technology. If the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, one of the largest consumers of IT products of any kind in Australia — chooses to use Amazon Web Services for some of its work, then virtually every other organisation of any kind should be considering doing the same. Experience has shown the IT industry over the past half-decade that where CommBank goes in terms of its IT use, others will inevitably follow.

Image credit: Commonwealth Bank of Australia


  1. I’ve seen similar articles about this that mention customer data is not being stored in the cloud. So on one hand Harte says “cloud, cloud, cloud”, and then follows up with “except for anything that needs complete privacy”. Sounds more like PR than paradigm shifts.

  2. I am sure Mickey has a nice payout clause in his contract… just in case his embracing of the Amazon, and ergo the Patriot Act, cloud and its silly trifles like security issues goes tits up and he finds himself, lets say, gainfully job searching? The arrogance in an unproven scenario is astounding…

  3. No mention here on what CBA is actually doing with the cloud. What data are they storing? How are they handling encryption? What in-house systems have they been able to get rid of?

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