Connecting to the Cloud: UK Cloud Summit Recap, Part 1
Last month, the Eze Castle Integration London team hosted their second annual Cloud Summit at the Royal Academy of Engineering. The half-day conference featured industry experts from Eze Castle Integration, Apex Fund Services, Black Mountain Systems, Bloomberg, eSentire, Eze Software Group, Markit, and Simmons & Simmons to discuss topics surrounding cloud accessibility, the delivery of financial and trading applications and the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) “Dear CEO” letter.
In today's blog, we will take a look at cloud accessibility and how firms can connect to the cloud securely.
Five years ago, firms were making substantial investments in on-premise technology. In most cases, firms were building out intricate Comm. Rooms right in their offices. With the emergence of cloud technology, there has been a dramatic shift in how efficient firms can become, particularly as they realise the inherent benefits of the cloud, including the transition from upfront capital expenditures to ongoing operating expenses. Results from our 2013 Cloud Usage Survey found:
87% – nearly 9 out of 10 firms – are currently using the cloud in some way
74% of firms are using the private cloud, either exclusively or as part of a hybrid solution
Only 26% of firms are using the public cloud
The top business needs driving cloud adoption are:
Simplified application management
IT costs and budget predictability
Reduced complexity and management of IT
Improved disaster recovery and business continuity
93% of firms believe the cloud is just as secure or more secure than an on-premise IT environment
- More than 90% of firms say their chosen cloud deployment model is meeting or exceeding their expectations
As prevalent as the use of the cloud has become, though, there still seem to be questions about it, and investment firms are looking to learn more. Our panel of experts gathered at the Cloud Summit to address the questions and concerns many firms still have. Let’s take a closer look at what was covered.
Connecting to the cloud from work, home or a mobile device is fast becoming an attractive and convenient means of communication in the investment world. Firms utilising
the cloud allow users access to corporate data from anywhere in the world and on mobile devices such as tablets, laptops, and smartphones, which in many cases can increase user productivity and flexibility. But how can users connect to the cloud securely whether they are working from home or the office or remotely?
Working from the Office
Investment firms need to have a reliable, redundant solution in place to ensure maximum up-time and connectivity to their cloud environment. Smaller investment firms utilising Microsoft Office or Adobe as their primary applications will need two independently-sourced Internet connections, one installed as a primary connection and the other as a secondary line. This would be the minimum a cloud service provider would need to put in place to ensure that the office has sufficient bandwidth to cope with a firm's access needs as well as supply resiliency.
To secure the Internet line, a service provider would need to configure site-to-site VPN tunnels between the office and the cloud which have the ability to automatically failover between each other should either of the lines experience an outage. Larger firms looking to run more applications, such as an OMS or CRM system, may look to incorporate a Point-to-Point (PTP) circuit as their primary connection and a high bandwidth Internet connection as a backup. PTPs are dedicated circuits that offer dependable, 'always on' bandwidth communication.
The need to be able to access corporate data remotely is becoming more and more prevalent. Users can log in to their corporate data from home or abroad by using Critrix, for example. Citrix allows users to work productively from any location securely; all the user will require is an Internet browser to securely log into the company domain and have the same access as if they are at their desks.
Mobile technology is fast becoming an attractive and convenient means of communication in the investment world. The flexibility of having corporate email as well as access to content on a user’s mobile device means that, even while traveling, users can access their firm’s network anywhere, anytime.
To get connectivity running on mobile devices, firms will need to work with mobile device management (MDM) software companies (e.g. GOOD or Airwatch) who allow full control of mobile devices via online MDM consoles as well as allow data such as PowerPoint, Word and Excel data to be shared via mobile content management consoles.
One of the biggest issues many managers have in regards to the cloud is security. Firms want to make sure that, while staff can access business data from wherever they are, simultaneously there can be no unauthorised network access. There are also concerns around how managers can monitor communications entering the cloud and ensure any unknown traffic is permitted from entering the cloud. This is where firms needs to select a service provider and security vendor who will work together with the firm and regularly collaborate to conduct intrusion detection and penetration testing to prove water tightness and reinforcement new holes.
Security is also a concern when employees are using chat-rooms. Fund managers have been advised to adopt real-time compliance for employee use of chat-rooms. In a recent article in Forbes, Leo King wrote, “As traders use myriad communication methods, keeping track of what is said and enforcing proper policy is proving a serious challenge for IT and risk chiefs.” In a separate article, Larry Tabb, CEO of Tabb Group, said, “Multiparty chat rooms have cost banks billions of dollars. The chat compliance challenge has become so great that it is now threatening the way that banks communicate, both internally and externally.” As increasing compliance and regulations are tightened, it is important to understand who your users are communicating with throughout the industry, recognise participant identities and understand their roles.