In 2011, Marc Andreessen famously quipped that “software is eating the world”.
At that time, he reflected on the dot-com bubble of the 90s and (correctly) mused that the new 2010s boom in tech was the real deal. Fast forward another ten years, and it’s eerie to see how his predictions about the future of technology have come to fruition in a big way.
Today, we see this “innovate or die” mindset within the broader market has firmly taken hold.
When it comes to software development and the rapidly evolving tech industry the motto is clear:
Eat – or be eaten.
Gone are the days of tech platforms that stay static for years or decades – if you’re in the business of technology, you cannot coast and expect to survive. Now, “software is eating the software that is eating the world”, and innovation waits for no one. As Simon Taylor, Co-founder of 11:FS has said, “Pace of change is a power law”.
As a technology company, we at Celero are acutely aware of these shifts within the industry, and we adjust how we work accordingly to keep pace. For instance, over the past two years we’ve talked a lot about having an API-lead strategy, using modern tools and platforms that not only help us move faster together, but allow us to recruit and retain the talented team members we need, and not fear change but embrace it.
With open banking on the horizon and payments modernization underway in Canada, we’ve made strategic moves to prepare ourselves (and our clients) to keep up with the rate of change and stay nimble. We are continuously evolving our platforms and intentionally designing them with the future in mind: to meet the current needs of our clients, but have scalability baked in so that we can meet future needs that are yet to be defined. We build with change in mind, as change is our only constant.
On behalf of the clients we serve, and the account holders whose data we keep in trust, we need to ensure that we continuously invest in our key platforms so they are positioned to be ready before the next big thing. One of the ways we are demonstrating that we have our finger on the pulse of what’s going on in larger industry contexts, leveraging best in class technology like our cloud-based data and API platform and adjusting our existing offerings accordingly is with the evolution of Celero Xchange to Celero Xchange.Next.
The History of Celero Xchange
Celero Xchange is our purpose-built integration platform that allows credit unions to link their technologies together using standardized, open APIs for plug and play functionality. Using Celero Xchange, credit unions have a means to connect their core banking system, CRM, loan origination and account opening software, digital banking system and virtually any other banking software together. This is significant, because with Celero Xchange, real-time updates can be made in any connected system and those updates will be reflected across all of the plugged-in platforms. This means better, more accurate data that can be viewed in aggregate and leveraged in new ways to benefit the business.
When we first built Celero Xchange, there were fundamental business and technical challenges that Celero needed to solve to ensure we could deliver what our clients kept asking us for:
The ability to build new member experiences faster.
The integration capabilities in place at the time were not extensible or easy to use and did not allow data to be effectively leveraged by different applications.
We knew that eventually, the cost of acquiring and maintaining a software interface that could serve as a go-between for multiple applications would grow at least linearly (if not exponentially). With this in mind, we took the desired credit union future-state as our inspiration for Celero Xchange. This included the ability to freely choose what applications and software could be connected together to create their desired member experience.
The inception of Celero Xchange started from this relatively simple concept: that we would create our own integration platform to link software together. The development principles were that this platform would be vendor and application agnostic to provide unlimited flexibility to credit unions. It would also help unlock data from application silos so it could be more effectively used in everyday business and for strategic decisions. It would be cost effective to build and run for credit unions and would allow us to move at a steady innovation pace, together.
The Evolution to Celero Xchange.Next
The original Celero Xchange was created on top of an industry-specific framework that served its purpose at the time. One drawback of the original platform was that our team had to work inside one big code base with specific underlying infrastructure requirements, which can add complexity and time to deployment for any new feature we are building. This was fine when we first started out, but as the platform has grown and our ambitions for Celero Xchange have grown along with it, it has become necessary to re-envision and redesign the fundamental building blocks of Celero Xchange.
This is where our move to cloud-native services comes in, as this shift has been integral to Celero Xchange. Moving to the cloud meant that we needed to move everything off-premises from our physical data centres.
We purposely selected Microsoft Azure to leverage their cloud-native services to house a complex integration platform like Celero Xchange. The Azure cloud is fit-for-purpose with low-latency, security, and evolution for the kinds of workloads we have now and in the future. We can now take advantage of cloud scalability and resiliency to rebuild Celero Xchange to be truly cloud native.
This is especially important for the future of Celero Xchange because it allows us to move away from working within a large code base and having to update infrastructure along the way – making Celero Xchange significantly more maintainable because each endpoint can have independent code updates made to it that don’t affect the rest of the system. This means that in the long term, we will be able to add new features faster, adding greater efficiency to Celero Xchange.Next overall.
Using Cloud-Based Technology to Transform Celero Xchange
Thanks to our decision to leverage serverless features, today there is no physical infrastructure in Celero Xchange. Celero Xchange.Next leverages cloud-scale services in their entirety because the infrastructure is all highly modular code. Even the compliance policies are now code.
To do this, we have taken full advantage of cloud services that are built with billions of dollars of investment by one of the largest technology companies in the world: Microsoft. Microsoft Azure gives us access to cloud-based tools, including API management, to provide better control over versioning, traffic routing, less time spent with network and more.
Celero Xchange.Next is even more secure than our existing PCI-compliant platform because it leverages a defensive, in-depth security posture and assumes a breach could happen at any time. Gone are the days of assuming perimeter security can protect the account-holder data that we hold in trust for credit unions and other financial institutions.
We leverage cyber security features that monitor potential attacks using AI threat detection capabilities based on hundreds of billions of points of data gathered across the Microsoft ecosystem. In fact, Microsoft invests $20B a year in cybersecurity, an amount far beyond that which Celero individually or credit unions collectively could ever invest, which is yet another benefit of rebuilding Celero Xchange in the cloud.
Taking advantage of true cloud scalability has allowed us to build Celero Xchange.Next with resiliency from the start. This includes building the platform with higher SLAs than we could have ever achieved before. We can now help credit unions provide truly “always on” experiences to their members with immediate access to infinite scalability. Security and resiliency go hand in hand. There’s no point in having secure systems if they aren’t resilient enough to be available for the 24×7 world in which we operate.
Benefits of Being in the Cloud for Celero Xchange.Next
Reducing our dependency on physical data centres increases the availability of Celero Xchange.Next and presents less risk of services being unavailable if a server or even an entire data centre goes down. Cloud regions have built-in redundancy, meaning that multiple data centres within a region have multiple copies of data and applications, eliminating concerns that are inherent with physical data centres.
Celero Xchange.Next now uses these multiple cloud regions, mitigating risks from problems that might occur in one geography, like a storm that cuts power for a long period. This allows us to provide even higher availability of services.
Ultimately, the goal of rebuilding Celero Xchange to Celero Xchange.Next is to create capacity now for rapidly approaching changes like open banking, or to add new functionalities that broaden our current spectrum of product offerings to enhance member experience.
The Future of Celero Xchange.Next in 2022 and Beyond
Our success in developing in-house, cloud native APIs will allow us to modernize all our product offerings, including digital banking and Fintech APIs. Our Integration team continues to envision, experiment, validate, test, iterate and make evidence-based decisions to provide holistic, cloud-hosted and API-driven financial and banking services to power the technology ecosystem for credit unions.
Our team will be making continuous improvements and enhancements aligning with the needs of credit unions in 2022, with a specific focus on payments modernization. We know that our clients need payments infrastructure that allows for high availability and that can meet modern performance requirements. Celero Xchange.Next facilitates these essential payments processing capabilities, which is an important piece of the puzzle for credit unions that is rapidly evolving.
When looking at the big picture, it is clear how all of these moving parts (our transition to the cloud, the Celero Xchange.Next transformation, payments modernization and more) begin to work together. We are looking to the future and positioning ourselves us to act quickly and address the ever-changing technology needs of credit unions with Celero Xchange.Next.