Organisations in the banking, insurance, and financial services sectors have been slower than others in moving to the cloud due to concerns over security, data residency, and privacy.
For more traditional financial institutions, there is also the not insignificant consideration that their core banking systems are running on decades old on-prem architecture that is just not possible to shift to the public cloud.
Nevertheless, adoption of the cloud in banking and finance is happening. According to industry analyst IDC, spending on cloud services in banking is forecast to grow more than 16% year-on-year through 2024, to $77 billion worldwide, compared with just a 4.5% annual increase in overall IT budgets.
A survey of 100 global banks by Accenture in 2021 found that just 8% of workloads run in the cloud, but this figure is expected to double within two years. Meanwhile, the 2021 Serverless, Multi-Cloud & Kubernetes Adoption Trends Report by Cockroach Labs found that 88% of survey respondents in banking have an active multi-cloud strategy, and while this number isn’t as high as other industries, it’s higher than some, such as healthcare.
What’s driving cloud adoption in banking?
While established and legacy banks have been faced with the daunting challenge of moving their intertwined, often decades-old systems to cloud infrastructure and applications, which in some cases, just isn’t possible, neo-banks and fintech startups have enjoyed the benefits of a cloud-first strategy.
Furthermore, while legacy banking architecture tends to be somewhat bespoke, the vendors of core banking systems now sell cloud-based applications that give Tier 4 and 5 banks fast and affordable access to Tier 1 capabilities. This is causing the bigger players to respond.
Since most established banks still require their on-premises data centres to store sensitive data or legacy applications, they have come to adopt a hybrid cloud strategy by default, which helps them capitalise on public cloud capabilities while still meeting regulatory requirements.
A hybrid multi-cloud environment spans across traditional on-prem, private cloud and multiple public clouds and typically makes use of a single integrated fabric with data and applications that can be shared between these assets, while meeting the needs of greater privacy, security, and flexibility requirements.
However, financial regulators and industry oversight boards, including watchdogs such as the Bank of England, are casting a close eye on cloud adoption in banking. As crucial operations, such as payment systems, move to the cloud, they have voiced concerns about the need to ensure resilience and financial stability from over-reliance on a limited number of vendors.
This essentially means organisations in banking and finance see some kind of multi-cloud strategy as inevitable, as financial institutions work with multiple cloud providers to keep outages or security breaches from becoming systemic problems and eliminate a reliance on any one provider.
Big banking leading the way
It’s not just newer, more nimble players blazing the trail in multi-cloud however. As mission-critical workflows such as online and digital banking and payment processing shift into the public cloud domain, established organisations are finding they are better able to provide products and services faster.
“They need the ability to stand up and take down things like virtual call centres in a matter of days and create websites that can handle immense scale,” says Mike Abbott, Accenture Global Banking Lead.
A great example is Wells Fargo - one of the oldest, biggest banks in the world. In September 2021, the bank announced an ambitious digital infrastructure goal to move all of its workloads to multiple public clouds within the next ten years. Under the initiative the bank will be decommissioning its on-prem data centres and migrate services to Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform, where each vendor has different competencies.
Wells Fargo will utilise Azure as its primary public cloud provider for business-critical bank functions and applications, while Google will be used for “advanced workloads, and complex artificial intelligence and data solutions, allowing the company to move faster on driving personalized experiences for its customers and clients.
Matching the network to multi-cloud capabilities
It’s long been noted that the cloud industry and the industries it enables have matured to a point whereby the businesses are no longer utilising the benefits of one cloud, but many. Banking, and the Wells Fargo case study, are clear examples. But this puts new requirements on the network that connects all these assets together.
According to Jay Turner, VP of Development and Operations at Console Connect, the financial services sector sees huge potential for cloud technology to make their systems faster, more agile and responsive to the needs of customers.
Consumer banks can develop cloud-based tools to quickly introduce new features in mobile banking apps or detect fraud. While lenders can use the cloud to process loan applications and analyse underwriting decisions for everything from mortgages to corporate borrowing.
“The move to a hybrid or multi-cloud environment has prompted many businesses to reassess their networking model. In particular, there has been a conscious move away from accessing the cloud via the public internet – which although convenient and affordable, does not meet the stringent requirements around security and performance,” says Turner.
“This is where a Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) platform could add real value to a financial services provider’s cloud environment. A NaaS platform can increase the security posture of a financial services provider by giving them real-time access to the cloud using a private dedicated connection.”
Console Connect’s new CloudRouter® enables organisations to build a virtual network overlay to meet their multi-cloud needs in a matter of minutes, without the expense of additional hardware.
Just as NaaS takes the headache out of managing a complex Layer 2 environment by making it very easy to set up and manage your network from one portal, CloudRouter extends this capability to Layer 3, enabling you to provision a full mesh network between multiple clouds together in a matter of minutes.
Through these dedicated connections, an organisation has a more secure path to the cloud that avoids the public internet and delivers a more reliable and consistent network performance for those important applications and services.
It is a particularly good fit for organisations with any latency-sensitive workloads, or those requiring stringent security and reliability features such as in banking and finance.