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InvestOps: Harnessing Cloud-Based Solutions in Financial Services

At MarkLogic, our customer base includes some of the largest financial services enterprises in the world, and every one of these companies is in the process of either evaluating or shifting data management and analytics workloads to the cloud. They see the value in improved business agility, reduced infrastructure cost, and elastic scalability, but must address concerns about operational risks and regulatory impacts.

Last month, I participated in a virtual panel at InvestOps to discuss how financial firms can best harness cloud-based solutions to improve transparency, reporting, and service quality. The following is my summary of the Q&A from that session:

What are some of the concerns at financial firms when evaluating moving to the cloud?

A common issue with many financial services companies is that they have an extensive non-cloud infrastructure already in place, which can limit their options, as change is expensive and can be risky. If the existing infrastructure still works fine, why move?

Another issue is the fact that financial services companies have a large amount of client personal data, and there is the concern that moving this sensitive data to cloud could pose a security risk. There is also the perception that there are still risks associated with moving core transactional processing services to the cloud. Despite the benefits of cloud solutions, the rate of adoption is still slow among financial services firms because of these perceived risks, with many legacy and on-premises systems still running the business.

I have seen a shift in the past couple of years, where moving certain workloads from on-premises or private cloud infrastructure to an “outsourced” or fully-managed service provider environment has become a larger part of the conversation with my customers. However, very few will move quickly to an all-cloud scenario, and I expect the majority will continue with a hybrid approach for a while.

What is the best approach for financial services firms who want to move to the cloud?

Not surprisingly, we spent some time on the panel discussing the risks associated with moving to the cloud, the benefits, and the best approach for a successful transition. Everyone on the panel recognized that the benefits of cloud computing – in terms of greater business agility and efficiency – outweighed the migration risks.

To achieve these benefits, the panel highlighted the following key approaches:

  • Making the case by changing the legacy mindset. A key point that emerged from the discussion was the importance of changing the mindset of the organization – that the focus should not be on the technology per se, but on the outcome and the benefits that can be achieved. For example, what data flows do we need to improve support for the investment lifecycle, and what technology solutions are available to get us there?
  • First, get your data houses in order. A best practice that emerged is that moving to cloud successfully requires evaluating the data that resides in the systems prior to the move. We spent some time discussing the advantages of consolidating and processing the data, removing duplicative data that resides in multiple systems, and making sure it is all harmonized so that the data moving to the cloud is the highest quality data. Moving to the cloud provides the opportunity to think about how data is structured, what processes affect the data, and how the organization is leveraging or can leverage the data.
  • Make a plan for workload migration. Another best practice is to evaluate existing applications and processes, and decide which to move to cloud, when to move, and how to move. The move to cloud is a journey; everything will not be moved to the cloud all at once. Most of our customers take a balanced approach when transitioning workloads to the cloud. During the evaluation phase they consider security, systems (core versus non-core), business requirements, and type of application (analytical, operational, transactional) to determine what to move, and when to do so.

Migrating data integration to the cloud with MarkLogic

Moving to cloud is a journey, with no one path that is right for every customer. In financial services, many of our customers are already using our Data Hub Platform on-premises and in a private cloud environment. Others are focused on migrating data from legacy environments (mostly mainframes) to our platform managed on-premises, and some are moving specific workflows to our hosted cloud Data Hub Service. Regardless of what stage you’re at in migrating to the cloud, MarkLogic provides a unique combination of technology and expertise to help your investment services business achieve its transformational goals.

George has over 25 years of experience in collaborating with customers to solve complex business problems associated with data. His breath and depth of experience range from the early days of relational technology, through the evolution of middleware and data transformation solutions, to today’s focus on “big data” integration and its potential positive impact on business processes. His experience across multiple industries and understanding of how new technology can help solve pressing business problems makes George a trusted advisor to his customers and a frequent panelist at industry conferences.

George’s experience in both "start-up" (Sisense, Cirro, Itemfield, Connotate) and established software companies (Informatica, Oracle) gives him a unique perspective on "best practices" and the solutions available to enterprises today. At MarkLogic, George leads a team of Sales Executives who work with enterprises to solve data problems and create new business opportunities by rethinking how data should be managed.

George holds a BA Degree in History from Columbia University and an MBA from Rutgers Business School.

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