An open-source approach to digital transformation

The entire finance industry is in the midst of a digital transformation. Companies are finding new ways to thrive in a fast-moving, ever-changing, global marketplace. At Discover Financial Services, a big part of this transformation is the way we’ve embraced open source principles and development practices to spur this transformation.

Open source development is a trusted, proven way to build an ecosystem, so turning these practices inward—in an inner source model—is a logical step for companies to take. Companies can use the core open source principles of consumption, community and contribution to garner internal support for the technical and process changes needed to enact this transformation.

Consuming open source to drive modernization

The pace of technological innovation in the past few decades has skyrocketed and is fueled by open source collaboration and development. Companies are embracing modernization. Teams are creating scalable architectures and pipelines that are built on open source technologies, including containerized platforms, DevOps tools, AI libraries, automation tools and more.

Discover teams focus on technologies based on how they align to our current architecture. We have an Open Source Program Office that uses the principles of security and reliability to set forward standards on open governance around technology and interactions with the open source community.

Creating a community of learning and sharing

We know that the success or failure of a given open source initiative is based on the community that supports the development of the project, and we took this knowledge and applied it to our products and practices at Discover.

We built an internal learning and sharing platform called the Discover Technology Academy to enable developers and engineers to easily share what they are working on and gain support from other engineers and teams within Discover.

The internal platform is built on GitHub, so anyone can easily contribute knowledge and it now hosts more than 10,000 blogs, articles, videos, tutorials, forums and other avenues where engineers can both learn and share their knowledge.

Building internal products through code contribution

The inner source model is also used to build products within Discover. One of our most successful uses of inner source was used to build Trident, our highly integrated, autonomous pipeline for building, testing, deploying, and releasing software to production. The pipeline consolidates more than 100 application pipelines or processes used by application teams for deploying and releasing code into a single, automated ecosystem.

Trident is treated like an open source project, with a core team of maintainers who approve changes and enhancements that the community of Discover engineers submit. This approach has increased the adoption of Trident, with teams feeling a sense of ownership of the pipeline and its enhancements.

Expanding our open source commitment outside of Discover

Because we use open source software and open source principles to drive our transformation, we believe that contributing back to open source communities that support the broader fintech space is the right thing to do.

In February 2023, Discover Financial Services joined the Fintech Open Source Foundation (FINOS) as a gold member. Since then, engineers at the company have participated in special interest groups, contributed an open source accessibility project and code, and sponsored the FINOS Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) Hackathon which focused on designing accessible, inclusive digital and physical financial assets and tools.

Getting better every day

Embracing an open source model has helped our entire organization embrace a modernization journey and is the conduit to our digital transformation. Empowering our developers to use the open source model to build their craft, grow their expertise, and contribute their knowledge back to the broader community is how we get better every day and how we succeed together—two core Discover values.

By Angel Diaz, Vice President of Technology Capabilities and Innovation at Discover