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04:00 PM
Ian Masters
Ian Masters

Put Your Money Where Your Cloud Is

Why more financial institutions should be banking on the cloud.

Banks are making the shift over to cloud where they can as the technologies behind cloud become more robust and secure. Around 71% of banking executives stated that they planned to invest in cloud, according to a survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers in late 2013. This was four times more than in the previous year.

A slow and cautious migration to the cloud
This transition to the cloud has come at a slower rate for financial services and banking organizations than for other industries, as can be expected from an industry where data security and compliance requirements are particularly rigorous. Financial data has to be secure and access controlled, as set out by legislation like SOX and GLB.

The impetus driving this shift is largely due to industry pressure to consolidate IT costs -- in fact, Gartner has forecasted that, by 2016, poor return on equity will drive more than 60% of banks worldwide to process the majority of their transactions in the cloud.

As companies in other industries with business-critical data begin to realize the value -- and secure implementation -- of cloud computing for their companies, the race to outperform competitors through the cost-savings available via the cloud makes a strong business case many financial institutions are considering now more than ever.

Why cloud computing makes sense
As part of this shift to cloud, how services are delivered and managed will change as well. Rather than looking at fixed physical platforms for the long term, cloud computing encourages more agility and flexibility in approach. For IT teams, used to thinking about migration as a “one-off” activity, a change in mindset is called for around workloads and portability.

As businesses and the banking industry continue to evolve to address growing data input demands, the modern datacenter will need to be nimble in order to reflect the constant flow of information across increasingly diverse environments. The sooner companies realize the efficiencies enabled with technology that does not rely on like-system migration, the sooner they will be able to move forward with business development without fear of disruption with changing infrastructure. Because migration to the cloud is an increasingly viable option for banks today, IT needs to understand how the process of migration -- not just the migration itself -- can benefit their business long-term.

The right approach: process makes perfect
Migration should be thought of as something that will be going on continuously, as banking IT teams can look at how to make the shift without impacting on day-to-day operations. As workloads become ready for migration, they can be moved across to new platforms using the same strategy.

The process of migration can lead to potential downtime that is extremely costly, if not done properly. By using the right migration tools, IT teams can shift server images and data across to new cloud platforms without having to take the original systems offline. This can not only cut the risk of a migration failing, it means that the team can go back to the previous platform without too many problems.

In the State of Resilience Report conducted by Vision Solutions, respondents revealed that 60% of IT professionals preparing to migrate had not performed a migration cost analysis. With recent downtime figures estimating costs as high as thousands of dollars per second, minimal downtime and procedures in place to properly migrate are essential.

Long-term gains elevated through business continuity solutions
This whole approach around workload mobility aims to provide banking IT with a degree of flexibility and agility that is not possible when you are wedded to specific hardware or storage platforms. By decoupling the workloads from the operating systems, storage layers, and servers underneath them, bank IT teams can deploy those applications where it makes the most sense -- for both performance and economic reasons.

For the banking sector as a whole, cloud computing can be used to support key customer-facing applications and services across the many facets of their business activities.

For banking IT teams, the move to the cloud is part of a longer-term strategy around picking the right platforms for applications. By migrating more data and services to the cloud while minimizing downtime, the financial industry can bank on brighter returns ahead.

With over 10 years of expertise in the industry, Ian Masters specializes high availability, disaster recovery, migration, cloud computing and recovery-as-a-service. Masters works at Vision Solutions, the premiere provider of software solutions designed to protect data, ... View Full Bio

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