By DAVID BLESOVSKY, Chief Executive Officer at Cloudhelix
In the past, the financial services sector has held the reputation of being behind the curve when it comes to technology and digital transformation, but that is changing. Earlier this year, a report showed that 60% of financial services businesses will use multi-cloud to architect their IT environments within the next two years. Alongside this stat, agility tops the list of cloud adoption drivers (47%, compared to 32% of businesses overall). Being able to innovate quickly to capture new market opportunities and emerging technologies, such as AI and blockchain, shows how the bond between the two financial sectors is growing. Adaptation is at the heart of these partnerships, led by the need to gain ready-made customers, motivate growth with innovation, and avoid being left behind by the competition.
The traditional three pillars for IT in financial businesses are security, compliance and flexibility – reviewing these can help to understand where multi-cloud will come into its own:
Multi-cloud – an introduction
Multi-cloud has become a buzzword and it’s easy to lose track of the true meaning. Unlike a hybrid cloud, where you can use different platforms (such as public and private clouds) but with the same provider, multi-cloud allows you to use multiple platforms with multiple providers for separate workloads. Multi-cloud is broader than hybrid – you could have a hybrid cloud within a multi-cloud but not vice versa.
There are several reasons why you want to host workloads on entirely different cloud platforms or with different providers:
compliance for security and data protection policies
- better data control
- to avoid vendor lock-in
- cost and performance optimisation
- opportunity to develop new tools and services, such as AI and blockchain
- flexibility to use the best environment for each workload
More security for your firm
Keeping all your business-critical systems with just one service provider is a bit of a gamble. There are multiple threats to the reliability of technology – cyber-attack, natural disasters, nuclear war!
A multi-cloud strategy increases resilience, it’s a solution that can be consistently deployed in the same manner, regardless of location. It improves cost efficiency as well as allowing you to leverage different services, ensuring each of your department’s critical functions are served and secure.
Public cloud can be used for big workloads with low compliance needs, whilst private cloud could be more compliant and efficient for data with security policies attached, and another set-up could be provided for dev testing and building etc.
There is a solution for firms that need to keep an on-premise product; the converged cloud stack brings the benefits of the cloud on-prem. While on-premise data centres perhaps aren’t the best way of working, there’s been a recent acceptance in the industry in the role of on-prem.
This is shown in products like AWS Outposts, which is Amazon’s version of the CCS. Historically, AWS have said ‘you can run anything on AWS, public cloud will be the way everything works eventually.’ However, AWS building an on-prem solution shows that on-prem is still important. We’ve seen how it can be used within the financial sector. When used in the right way, on-premise has a role, and is likely here to stay.
Compliance, no matter what
Compliance is a close second to security; financial data has always come with compliance policies, even more so now with recent changes in how data is stored and reported on.
43% of the financial industry sees multi-cloud architecture as a way to meet regulatory needs, and this can be met by working with providers who understand your compliance needs.
Part of compliance is documenting and proving an effective Disaster Recovery strategy. If your service is hosted on a single cloud provider’s infrastructure, a natural follow-up question from an auditor will be “What is your plan for when that cloud provider experiences an outage?” Having your solution spread across multiple cloud providers in an active-active configuration facilitates a satisfactory answer.
By introducing a multi-cloud strategy to your firm, you can make the most of the strongest services offered by each individual provider to ensure your business can handle almost any situation. Mission critical data can be held on the most suitable platform whilst other elements of your infrastructure can be run on another to ensure security and cost efficiency.
Flexibility, on your terms
Vendor lock in can occur easily when you use a single cloud service that restrains you from easily being able to transfer to another service.
This can happen because of introductory offers that have constraints in the fine print, not having a cloud strategy that allows for unexpected usage, using technologies or services that are incompatible with the common standard, or even long-term reliance on a provider, skill sets, or older systems and processes.
A multi-cloud deployment will mean that the cloud vendor’s native services cannot be used – instead, independent services are required. As an example, let’s imagine that your application requires a real-time data/event ingestion service. These services are natively available on public cloud, e.g. Amazon Kinesis, Microsoft Event Hubs and Google Pub/Sub. While you could write your application in three different ways to account for all three of these options, you might prefer to deploy your own equivalent solution using Apache Kafka. This would avoid being locked into the vendor-specific services and add flexibility to your deployment strategy – the software could even be deployed in the same way on private cloud infrastructure. The trade-off is that as you do not have a managed service from the cloud provider, you have an additional administrative overhead.
We know the pain of being trapped by a provider and it’s something a business shouldn’t have to deal with. Working with a provider who only has an allegiance to you, will allow you to utilise multiple services across different platforms whilst ensuring your flexibility comes with the peace of mind of dealing with a single company. This also provides you with more freedom when it comes to acquiring new fintech solutions as you adapt and grow.