Four BFSI Assessment Parameters for Moving to the Cloud
Arindam Mukherjee, VP Sales, BFSI, Cisco India and SAARC
In banking, cloud has become the latest technology buzzword and has opened up a world of new possibilities. Since cloud computing offers increasing agility, banks are planning to adopt it for gaining access to more computing resources for less money. Today, customers would like to have their financial information integrated across various systems allowing the bank to offer its services on the go. Since the data is available on the cloud, the bank can offer a customer, the convenience of accessing his account from anywhere, anytime. Cloud adoption, thus is a step forward to providing financial institutions with a cost efficient method to respond faster to customer needs, by enabling overall employee empowerment.
IDC, in its predictions for 2013, point outs that it expects the cloud model to become a preferred system for BFSI in cost–conscious markets as they attempt to strike a balance between lower operating costs and adequate service levels. Most BFSI organizations have already begun the shift to adopting cloud based computing solutions in the data center. In fact, findings from Cisco’s Global Cloud Index 2011-16 indicate that global cloud traffic is already the fastest growing component of data center traffic.
That said, the steady incorporation of all the solutions on a cloud based platform will depend on the redressal of some common concerns related to security and uptime. The BFSI vertical can decode the impact of shifting to a cloud based business model by understanding the security, data access implications as well as by preparing a list of applications that will need to be transitioned to the platform.
One of the biggest obstacles to IT service delivery using cloud computing is that most organizations are not sure if their data and applications are secure within the cloud infrastructure, where servers, networks, and storage are all shared resources. Once these apprehensions are cleared, the CIOs of BFSI institutions can formulate their cloud strategy and shape their infrastructure so that it is not fundamentally weak. In order to do that, and help data centers to maximize on the benefits of cloud computing, an assessment parameter must be drawn. Listed below are a few parameters:
Presence of a smart network
The network platform is a foundational component of the cloud and is critical to providing intelligent connectivity within and beyond the data center. It enables distinctive functionality on a secure, trusted, and ubiquitous platform. The network sees all data, connected resources, and user interactions over the public internet, within and between clouds. It is uniquely positioned to monitor and meter the usage and performance of distributed cloud services and infrastructure. The network also has a pivotal role to play in promoting resilience and reliability. A smart and ‘intelligent’ network that enables a uniform yet secure data access to resources will perhaps become the best bet for CIOs as they take the decision to migrate to the cloud.
Managing licensing requirements
Enterprises struggle to identify the right licensing policies required to have uninterrupted service of software/applications on the cloud. Independent software vendor (ISV) software licensing policies for virtualized platforms vary by vendor and can often be misleading. Therefore CIOs will need to use new management tools to identify the minimum number of licenses required across the enterprise cloud, based on the software and platform used. It is recommended that BFSI organizations and ISVs agree on a common toolset for measuring license use within a cloud. While current chargeback models are based on hardware-specific licenses, in cloud environments applications are deployed on virtual machines.
Ensuring integrity of data
Confidence that the data is safe from unauthorized tampering, leakage, and corruption is a key component in any shared infrastructure. This concern is more pronounced in the case of a BFSI organization which has to also ascertain the regulatory and compliance based implications of moving solutions to the cloud. Typically this access to data is safeguarded at the application level. All points within the shared infrastructure must have safeguards.
Combining secure access controls, authentication, hardware-based encryption, and secure logging helps to protect stored data. The appliance can then be transparently deployed in line to gain security advantages without impacting user workflow. Apart from usual concerns on integrity of data perhaps what is also critical for BFSI organizations is a well thought of disaster recovery management plan which enables them to access their data in real time.
Flexibility to upscale
Flexibility is one of the core requirements of secure cloud architecture and helps administrators to maintain a balance between current business needs and future requirements. Within a multi-tenant environment, this becomes important since both cloud and tenant administrators look to optimizing existing deployments and efficiently provide IT-as-a-service offerings. Therefore, resources within both internal and external clouds must be scalable, mobile and capable of efficient provisioning.
Traditionally, Indian BFSI organizations have preferred private clouds instead of the usual public or hybrid cloud models citing data security as a concern. For the cloud business model to gain momentum, going forward, every conversation must begin with an understanding of the expected business outcome and reveal if the goal is around lower TCO or if it is enabling greater innovation, or is a blend of both?
Cloud computing can provide flexibility, efficiency and democratization around resource allocation, but enterprises need to validate their infrastructure demands and expectations before moving on to the cloud. Otherwise it could lead to disappointing results. Customers must tread this path carefully and in a planned manner.
The cloud has many facets and each one of them is meant to address a different business challenge. The goal is a trusted cloud with the network as a logical platform to bring existing assets in the data center and new cloud computing approaches together with virtualization, governance, security, information and applications. A shift to cloud will also open up more opportunities for BFSI institutions as they look to branch out strategies and reach customers in a cost effective manner to retain customer mind and wallet share. Ultimately, the rate of success for cloud adoption depends on efficient planning and ability to deliver initiatives of this complexity and magnitude with ease.