September 19–20, 2016: Training
September 20–22, 2016: Tutorials & Conference
New York, NY

Putting the monkey in the lion's den: How the Simian Army helps to make ING a more resilient bank

3:50pm–4:30pm Wednesday, 09/21/2016
Financial systems Automation, Resilience engineering Gramercy Audience level: Beginner
Average rating: ***..
(3.71, 7 ratings)

What you'll learn

  • Learn how the techniques of the Simian Army can be adapted to work in environments other than AWS
  • Description

    We all know about Netflix’s Simian Army. But that’s just for Internet-based companies, right? Bidisha Agarwal and Marco van Dam demonstrate how the Simian Army can also be used to make a traditional corporate IT environment more resilient and discuss the adaptations, pitfalls, and (organizational) difficulties ING had to overcome in order to succeed.

    The techniques the Simian Army implements are just as valuable when used in a traditional corporate IT environment (such as those found at financial institutions like ING)—lots of legacy software, their own data centers, in the early stages of moving to a private cloud, etc. ING isn’t afraid to experiment. An early adopter of DevOps, ING has worked Agile for several years now in the Netherlands. DevOps also means ING’s engineers use a lot more open source now than they did five years ago. (Five years ago, open source was still “scary” to most of the financial world, and ING was no exception.) ING’s new breed of engineers were interested in experimenting with tools like the Simian Army, so after some discussion with senior management, a small group of enthusiasts got the go-ahead to start work. In the beginning, the work was limited to a test lab environment, but after the first positive results, things started taking off. A year later, ING is now putting the Simian Army to work to help increase the resilience of all client-facing services.

    Bidisha and Marco explore how the Simian Army was implemented within ING. Along the way, they cover the prejudice they met against open source, the challenges they had to overcome, and the adaptations they had to make to make the scripts work for ING. They conclude by sharing results and ING’s plans for the future.

    Photo of Bidisha Agarwal

    Bidisha Agarwal


    Bidisha Agarwal is currently a consultant and advisor for IT landscaping and service development in ING’s Infrastructure & Platform Services domain and leads the Simian Army initiative under the ISS stream of reliability. Her main areas of focus for design have been security and automation. Bidisha has a computer science and engineering background. She started her career as a programmer but has also been an analyst and led technical migration projects for business transformations.

    Photo of Marco van Dam

    Marco van Dam


    Marco van Dam is an IT specialist at ING.