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Feeling more secure about cloud computing?

Leading financial services firms are integrating the cloud into their IT strategies – why you should, too

While use of cloud computing continues to grow at a healthy pace, determining exactly what “the cloud” is continues to be a discussion topic among analysts, academicians, vendors, and others. The U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) provides a useful definition: “Cloud computing is a model for enabling convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.” [http://csrc.nist.gov/groups/SNS/cloud-computing/]

Financial services firms are capturing the benefits of cloud computing, from improving customer relationship management and virtualizing desktops, to exploring new infrastructure as service (IaaS) models. However, significant security concerns continue to leave many firms resistant to putting their data, core processes, and elements of their extended enterprise in the cloud, leaving huge untapped potential for further adoption.

While such reticence is understandable with any emerging technology, the potential benefits of the various forms of cloud computing are too great to ignore. We believe companies that develop and adopt a comprehensive, multiyear cloud strategy can position themselves to use the cloud to improve performance, competitiveness, and customer care, while keeping valuable data and assets well protected.

Many firms are quietly and strategically beginning to integrate cloud pilot projects into their IT strategies and architecture. Some are using cloud exclusively for non-core activities. Others are venturing into the realm of computation-intensive core activities. For example, one large investment management firm has developed a cloud computing proof of concept for CPU-intensive back-testing of the company’s proprietary investment trading signals while maintaining strong data security by leveraging encryption and data masking techniques. The approach is designed to enable the firm to avoid the costs of dedicated infrastructure build-out by leveraging the cloud’s ability to provide burstable CPU capacity.

Whether they are proceeding cautiously or ready to take bold action, financial services firms can gain confidence and knowledge to support their cloud computing initiatives from the experiences of companies that have already taken the plunge. Some of the efforts underway are nascent, with results still to be determined. Others are already yielding significant payoff. Most of them provide useful insights to help companies take one of the critical steps in any cloud computing initiative – setting a clear strategy with achievable, meaningful goals. As part of this process, firms should develop a high-level “cloud adoption vision,” as well as a short-term business case for cloud computing anchored to the long-term vision. They can define milestones for percentage of cloud service adoption by quarter over the next one to two years, and by year over a three-to-five-year timeframe.

In a recent article, we explore several ways in which financial services companies are already approaching the cloud and describe the other important elements of a cloud strategy. Download the full white paper.

Comments

I agree that one of the prime hindrances to adoption of cloud computing relates to security vulnerabiliites. Understandably so with organization(s) which have not adequately invested in Info Security framework.

Working for one of the leading banks , I can say , that if security practices are diligently maintained , there is little risk to cloud computing, albeit when practised in meassured way...

I confirm. And I have faced it.

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