Achieving your cloud transformation goals for Financial Services

Cloud transformation projects often deliver significant business and technology benefits, but they can be complex and may encounter a variety of blockers to their successful execution. The Financial Services (FS) industry in particular has many factors, such as safeguarding customers, regulatory compliance and security requirements, which add to this complexity and drive the need for mature cloud operations.

Rackspace recently hosted a FS Cloud transformation workshop to explore the specific challenges faced by FS companies undertaking cloud projects, and discuss how these challenges can be overcome. The workshop was attended by C-level delegates from a range of FS organisations who participated in roundtable discussions. We also hosted an interactive panel session which featured senior staff from multiple financial institutions and the European Banking Authority (EBA).

Cultural Shift
Cloud transformation often represents more than IT modernisation, it can underpin a much wider technology operations transformation. Cloud drives changes in ways of working, especially through the adoption of agile programme, development and operational governance. These changes can represent a significant cultural shift for many organisations.

Cultural and working practice changes are often met with a natural resistance which can act as a blocker to realising cloud benefits. A possible solution is the early establishment of a diverse and well governed Cloud Management Office (CMO) in order to extend traditional IT governance in line with the breadth of cloud impact. Forming this cloud focussed agency early and proactively, with stakeholders from across the business, can significantly reduce the risk of change blockers being encountered. We often find that the most successful cloud programmes start with a freshly engaged and multi-disciplined governance function, or CMO.

In an ever competitive sector and rapidly changing technology market, agility and the realisation of business benefits is critical. Through the adoption of agile cloud focussed governance and DevOps practices we often see our customers reduce their application deployment times from months to weeks, or reduce approval times from weeks to days.

Regulators and Governance
FS organisations are experiencing cloud programme blockers attributed to approvals from sector regulation, corporate risk and cyber security. Governance processes are primary concerns because of their direct impact on maintaining compliance, trading and data security.

Achieving regulatory and security compliance approvals for cloud programmes does not need to be a blocker, and these can be achieved quickly enough to mitigate impact on project timelines. The key to this is including security and compliance requirements as early as possible in the planning and design stages of the project – before technology or functional change decisions are made.

Early engagement of regulatory and security compliance stakeholders within the CMO helps to ensure that their critical needs are factored in from day one. This in turn supports architecture, engineering and service delivery to make the best decision quickly, providing fast approvals during projects.

As Tim Bull, Rackspace Solutions Director summarises, “Leading FS cloud adopters are rapidly evolving their IT governance for cloud ops. Historically, sector IT has been content with ‘centre of excellence’ type cloud governance which is often technology led or autocratic. This can undermine the realisation of  production scale benefits down the line. Now we are seeing FS IT crave cloud decision-making engagement from the broader business. The ones who achieve this earliest seem to be having the most success.”

Complexity
The technology transformation journey can be particularly complex due to the involvement of multiple vendors, technologies and stakeholders which need to be managed whilst transitioning services.

Transformation projects involve business service and application owners, application and platform architects and engineers, internal oversight functions and multiple external regulators. Managing this complexity can be especially difficult when resources are stretched with Business As Usual (BAU) duties as the technology needs to run simultaneously during transition.

Skills & Expertise
Skills and expertise gaps are often a challenge when adopting new technologies and working practices. Partnering with suppliers that possess this technology expertise combined with a cloud FS business transformation pedigree delivers significant benefits. It also allows the business resources to focus on their core duties and meeting KPIs.

As James Alexander, Rackspace Business Development Director EMEA says, “I think one of the biggest blockers in moving to the public cloud is around education. We (Rackspace) lead our customers to build their Cloud Management Office, deploying our really skilled people who regularly help FS organisations to understand how their own processes and different challenges can be overcome to adopt cloud.”

Conclusion
During the workshop we found that many attendees raised the same concerns and highlighted similar experiences of encountering obstacles such as cultural shifts, complexity, skills gaps and governance during their cloud transformation journeys. The adoption of an effective CMO and engaging with the right technology services partner can help overcome these challenges and maximise the success of your cloud transformation projects.

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Prior to joining Rackspace as a Solution Director Rhys was the Technology Director for startup digital transformation business Notbinary where he was responsible for establishing their Robotic Process Automation (RPA) practice focused on deploying technology in to the public sector. Between 2012 and 2017 Rhys was the CTO and co-founder of software startup Fedr8 which developed a artificial intelligence solution to accelerate the modernisation of applications to cloud native enabling faster migration and adoption of cloud for enterprises. Fedr8 and its software product Green Rain were recognised by Gartner in 2016 as a Cool Vendor in Cloud Computing. Prior to this he was the CTO for SCH Group, where he developed go-to-market strategies and helped customers align technology with their business strategy. He has a broad outlook on the IT sector with a strong technical and commercial knowledge allowing him to develop solutions with real business benefits. Having over 20 years’ experience in the IT industry Rhys has worked with all of the major vendors, across all sectors. At a time when the innovation and the pace of development is accelerating this is an exciting time, he is focused on delivering disruptive technology that will have a significant impact on the market.

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