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11:04 AM
Matthew Johnson, Cloud Sherpas
Matthew Johnson, Cloud Sherpas

7 Steps for a Successful Cloud Implementation

The cloud is a game-changer for banks, but presents challenges around data and compliance. Here’s how to successfully manage the implementation process.

Today, it's hard to escape the hype surrounding the cloud. It seems like everyone in IT is abuzz about SaaS, integration and mobility and how they are changing the working experience. Although making the move may seem daunting at first, the truth is, the cloud is a game-changer for the enterprise and well worth the effort.

Finding the right fit and mix for your organization and then configuring these solutions correctly can be challenging. And moving to the cloud is perhaps most challenging for banks, which face additional roadblocks created by the strict regulations that govern the financial services industry.

Matthew Johnson, Cloud Sherpas
Matthew Johnson, Cloud Sherpas

The principal challenges for banks that are looking to migrate to the cloud -- whether it's for CRM, ITSM, messaging and collaboration or anything in between -- usually revolve around data. Between data privacy and data residency concerns, how do you know exactly what information you can put in the cloud? And factoring in the mobility made possible by the cloud only adds another layer of concern around compliance issues, because, once this data goes mobile, how does the bank know where it's going?

[Changing The Cloud Security Conversation]Despite these challenges, successfully moving to and reaping those oft-repeated benefits of the cloud are still very much attainable for banks. The secret? A good mix of education and strategy. While there's no set formula, these seven steps provide banks with a blueprint to achieving success:

1) Make an effective business case.

Before you rip out your existing systems and introduce your users to the cloud, it's important to plan ahead. This planning should include making clear what benefits you expect to derive from the new solution and how this change will help meet business objectives. Take the time to understand your current and future processes and make sure that the cloud solution can satisfy your desired capabilities.

2) Research the industry.

Any bank that's considering moving to the cloud needs to undergo a prudent research process. Taking the time to learn about the available solutions should ease concerns about the cloud's ability to meet the strict regulations posed by banks, as there are a number of solutions designed to help banks comply with these regulations. You'll also find that many of your bank's peers are successfully moving to the cloud, too -- if they're not there already.

3) Take advantage of peer reviews.

One of the most effective steps you can take is to meet your peers and listen to their stories. Hearing generic, "This is why you should move to the cloud" or "Here's why this solution is the best available" may provide a good foundation for your cloud education, but it's not nearly as valuable as hearing firsthand from people who face the same regulations as you do how they've been able to move to the cloud. Make a point to go to events or attend user groups and talk to people from other banks that are now using cloud solutions. Ask them what solutions they're using, how they're using them and what was involved in getting to this point. Doing so will give you a peek into what you should look for during this discovery phase and what you can expect once you're ready to migrate.

4) Create the right TCO model.

There's no doubt that your bank has made significant investments in an infrastructure that the cloud will replace, and you'll need to justify the cost of not using this infrastructure. As you develop your total cost of ownership model for the cloud solution and compare it to that of the legacy infrastructure, don't underestimate the cost of managing that on-premise hardware. It's easy to assume that because you already have that hardware it's not costing you anything, but keep in mind that the infrastructure requires heavy IT management and support as well as regular patches and upgrades.

5) Determine what data belongs in the cloud.

Although moving to the cloud will replace some legacy hardware, your bank will likely need to keep in place other existing on-premise solutions. Because of the volume of data that banks own, such as credit data and customer transactions, it simply doesn't make sense for all of the data to live in the cloud. Part of this decision will be dictated by compliance concerns around data retention, since archived data needs to be stored on-premise, and data encryption. Take the time to determine what belongs in the cloud and what doesn't.

6) Pay close attention to your data and integration strategies.

Since you will have multiple solutions in place, determine which system is the master when it comes to data governance. Historically, banks have been account-centric, but the shift today is toward becoming more client-centric, so you need to make sure your data is set up to match this new model. Additionally, take the time to map out your integration strategy to ensure that these systems will communicate with one another properly.

7) Leverage experienced resources.

As much as you try to make cloud technology look and feel like your legacy system, it's never going to be the same. Configuring and managing cloud solutions will come with a learning curve for even the most seasoned IT professionals. Many banks assume that, because they have very capable, technical people on their IT teams, they can jump into the cloud on their own. However, the nuances of cloud technology require experience to be implemented correctly. As a result, you need to consult with resources who have experience in both cloud technology and the banking industry.

Take the Leap: Cloud Is Possible for Banks

Taking the leap to the cloud is possible for banks. The key is to look carefully before you do so. If you take the time to educate yourself about the possibilities and plan ahead, migrating to the cloud can deliver countless benefits to your bank.

Matthew Johnson is Vice President, Global Advisory Services, at Cloud Sherpas.

[Cloud computing certainly has benefits, but how can banks and other highly regulated enterprises meet security and compliance demands? Learn how financial firms can structure a hybrid cloud to gain efficiencies, while also meeting compliance goals. Attend the Reigning in the Cloud – Solving Identity, Access, Compliance and Governance Issues in a Hybrid Cloud World session at Interop 2014 in Las Vegas, March 31-April 4.

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