By John Atkinson, Director, Sales Engineering UKI at Riverbed Technology
The pandemic, and the shift it triggered to remote working, demonstrated that on-premises, legacy systems are no longer suitable for the needs of many modern businesses. A suspicion that had been growing over the past decade. As such, an increasing number of companies, particularly those in the financial services (FS) industry, turned to hybrid cloud for its work-from-anywhere suitability and agility. In fact, 89 per cent of IT decision makers identified hybrid cloud as the best option for managing workloads, as well as easily and securely storing and moving data, in a recent Forrester and IBM survey.
As many banks, and other financial institutions, are now transitioning to permanent hybrid working models, it’s clear that hybrid cloud is here to stay and vital to success in the new normal. However, to capitalise on the agility cloud brings, these organisations need to acknowledge and mitigate against the risks that can accompany a digital transformation. Notably, the loss of visibility and control over network and application performance. Which can, in turn, be detrimental to productivity, not to mention have severe financial and reputational consequences.
With these challenges fresh in our minds, it can be easy to forget why a shift to hybrid cloud is both desirable and necessary. So, let’s remind ourselves.
Hybrid cloud allows FS companies to meet changing consumer demands
The past decade has seen an influx of challenger banks – such as Metro Bank and Monzo – into the financial services market. The majority of these companies were built and remain on cloud. This has empowered them to deploy new services, in response to changing consumer expectations, far quicker than their on-premises, traditional competitors. For example, they were far better positioned to roll out on-demand banking and customer service as millennial and GenZ individuals joined the banking customer base.
This agile advantage was exacerbated by COVID-19. At the onset of lockdown, Revolut, Starling and their counterparts continued to service customers as usual. Meanwhile, traditional banks had to scramble to shore-up their online and application services to meet the redirected demand from closed high street branches. The scale of this demand should not be underestimated. A fifth of retail banking customers used online services for the first time during the pandemic, according to Deloitte. The legacy infrastructure, previously used to support those at physical banks, did not have the bandwidth to meet online and mobile demand, resulting in a decline in customer service. Hybrid cloud offered a resolution to this issue, as well as providing the agility for quick future transformations once reserved for challengers.
Visibility and why it matters
It’s clear that hybrid cloud is enabling financial services companies to remain competitive in an increasingly challenging market. However, the transition doesn’t come without its challenges and businesses must be aware of these in order to ensure successful implementation. Chief among these difficulties is minimised visibility. According to Riverbed’s Rethink Possible report, a lack of full visibility into applications, networks and end-users impacts one on three IT decision makers. Without visibility IT teams are unable to establish how their hybrid cloud infrastructure is working and resolve any issues before they negatively influence user, and consequently customer, experience. They won’t, for instance, be able to identify the difference between uptime being high and network and applications working too slow to be conducive to efficient operations. Banks and other financial companies must therefore invest in technology that provides complete visibility to ensure hybrid cloud delivers on its promise of more efficient operations.
Implementing performance management and application acceleration
Network performance management tools are essential to combatting the visibility challenge. With this tech in place, IT teams can monitor performance in real-time and identify any challenges. This is vital to helping financial institutions establish if latency is unacceptably high. Causing, for example, a large-scale file of financial models to upload to Office 365 prohibitively slowly. With this insight, teams can also then strategise on how to regain effective communication, such as, introducing application accelerators to get end-users’ emails working at a faster speed.
Investing in a smooth transition
Transitioning away from legacy infrastructure and towards hybrid cloud is essential for traditional banks to remain competitive with more agile challengers. Especially as customer demand for evolving online and mobile offerings grows. However, the effectiveness of this move, can be threatened by the loss of visibility into IT performance, resulting in minimised business efficiency. Luckily, this doesn’t have to be the case. By implementing performance management and application acceleration solutions, financial services companies can ensure their employees and customers experience minimal disruption as they transition onto hybrid cloud. Not to mention providing enhanced digital experiences in the long-term. This will be essential to helping banks, and other financial companies, innovate, grow and succeed over the coming months and years.