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Questions to ask when modernising IT infrastructure using the cloud

As financial organisations continue their digital transformation, using a cloud-based infrastructure is no longer a choice: it has become a must-have. The debate lies in choosing the right type of cloud environment and the associated tools and processes. There are multiple aspects to bear in mind, and this article does not cover every single one of those (a whole book could be written on the topic). However, to aid with the decision-making process, here are some questions and considerations. 

A good starting point is defining the aim of digital transformation. Often there are multiple interconnected reasons. Taking a hypothetical mid-sized bank with 200 banking centres across a European country and with a full suite of financial products, here are a few examples: 

  • To use the wealth of customer data held across the organisation to gain more insight and improve the customer experience (CX).  
  • To help branch-based staff and further improve the CX by providing a 360 view of the customer at the counter, such as all the products and services that the customer has set up with the bank.  
  • To speed up time mortgage loan processing, by simplifying the underwriting process, which currently involves sending and receiving data in multiple formats from a variety of different sources.  
  • To improve security and visibility of data by centralising management of security and monitoring of its numerous systems, plus centralise retrieval of log files generated by those systems.  
  • To reduce the overall cost of operating and maintaining the IT infrastructure, and to reduce vendor-lock in.  

Different flavours of cloud 

Once the end goals are clear, the next step is to look at what type of cloud environment to use, together with other supporting technologies. There are various types of cloud, mainly multi-cloud, hybrid, hybrid-multi cloud and distributed cloud.   

Multi-cloud means using multiple public cloud providers, and the benefits include vendor independence and improving disaster recovery by replicating workloads across different cloud providers. Hybrid cloud refers to a combination of both public and private clouds (and they could all be from the same provider). For financial service providers, the appeal is they can choose to have certain data reside within their own data centres.  

In a distributed cloud environment, a public cloud can be run in multiple locations: on the cloud provider’s infrastructure, on-premise, even in other cloud providers’ data centres, but all managed from a single point of control. =Eventually, it will also supports edge computing as it evolves, whereby servers and applications are brought closer to where consumers are located. 

Container consideration 

Another consideration is which container orchestration to use. There is no doubt that containers have revolutionised how software is developed, deployed and managed, speeding up time-to-market and reliability. They have become fundamental to flexible, cloud-based digital transformation. 

Various orchestration technologies each have their pros and cons, but often they can co-exist and run side-by-side so banks can pick-and-mix. Another question is whether to use an orchestration tool from a cloud vendor, or install your own choice? 

Factors in containerisation orchestration technology choice include the number of clusters that need management and how to address that. Typically banks and other financial institutions find they are managing multiple clusters, perhaps even hundreds, especially when IoT and edge devices — such as mobile payment terminals, cheque scanners, and ATMs — are involved. The greater the complexity, the higher the level of risk, which in turn can jeopardise security.  

Therefore, the selected containerisation orchestration tool needs to reduce, not contribute, to complexity. The simplicity of implementation, management and trouble-shooting is a vital requirement. Associated with that is how well can security be implemented across clusters. For many organisations, straightforward scalability is going to be necessary too.  

Since maintaining regulatory compliance is a big consideration for financial services firms, the overall cloud environment must continue to comply with GDPR, Sarbanes-Oxley and other local regulations. How is authentication between different components of the environment handled? 

As is usually the case with technology, when it comes to choosing the right cloud environment, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. What matters is selecting the cloud infrastructure and supporting tools that best fit the financial organisation today and for years to come. Digital transformation is not a one-time event but rather a continuing evolving process, which is why embarking on modernising IT infrastructure sooner rather than later is so essential. 

 

 

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Comments: (1)

Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune 03 May, 2021, 13:061 like 1 like

Public Cloud surely has over 95% share of noise but many actual purchase transactions in the last six months or so run counter to the assertion made in the opening sentence of this article.  

Shaken up by hidden costs like Egress Charges in Public Cloud, many large companies have started going back to Onprem Infra like HPE Greenlake, just that they continue with public cloud infra's OPEX pricing model rather than onprem infra's standard CAPEX model. This includes FIs like Wells Fargo (Source) and Government agencies like UK.gov, which, 7 years after it mandated Cloud Only, has recently opened up its procurment to Onprem infra (Source).

Konrad Litwin

Konrad Litwin

Managing Director

Perforce Software

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28 Mar 2017

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Wokingham

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This post is from a series of posts in the group:

Banking Strategy, Digital and Transformation

Latest thinking in respect to Banking Strategy, Digital and Transformation. Harnessing our collective wisdom to make banking better. Ambrish Parmar


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