What is the cloud? Answers in an email

What defines a cloud and what does it all mean for securities finance and collateral? David Selwood of FIS Global takes a look

When it comes to the ‘cloud’, I am often asked some very similar questions about it by the people in our organisation—especially on the commercial side—and sometimes by our customers: can ‘x’ software work in ‘y’ provider’s cloud? And does FIS have
a cloud?

And I almost always respond with a question of my own: what is the provider’s or the client’s definition of ‘cloud’?

You see, when I think of the ‘cloud’, I look at my phone or iPad and think about Spotify and how fantastic my playlist is, or BBC iPlayer, or Netflix. So, for a while now, many of my thoughts have been focused on defining this for our business solutions—and what it means for securities finance and collateral.

I believe that definition is key. In the past, this has been focused on the latest and greatest solution or innovation, be that a new database platform, software framework or delivery model. Even with the amorphous entity that is the internet, everyone was clear about the need to be on it and had an idea of what it meant from a commercial perspective.

Putting this into context with cloud solutions: can we define it as software-as-a-service or an application service provider? Does it have to do with legacy logins through sophisticated front ends? Is it all about app-delivered solutions?

A cloud solution can be a variation of some or all of these. Understanding its subtlety and definition is key as there is no single solution here. When I look at the software within the business, I see variations on a theme—and asking what the future holds is as important as delivering service now.

Future state

In my opinion, there is such closeness between technology and product that not understanding the technology roadmap will put you at a disadvantage when discussing the product roadmap. There is a distinct correlation to the underlying technology structure through product that can be far removed from a user saying, “I want this new field here on this screen.”

For example:

  • How will the screen be delivered within the user interface or user experience?

  • Do we do it in the legacy product and the ‘new’ cloud model?

  • What is the cloud model?

  • Do we just create it in the new version or can we migrate the legacy application into this?

  • What is the timeframe required for this field, versus our roadmap for new forms of platform delivery?

Now, I know these questions might not keep you up at night, but from a financial technology perspective, when working with products older than ‘brand new’, these questions are bound to come up repeatedly. Therefore, a clear roadmap model for transitioning into a cloud model is important to have and to understand.

It is safe to say that the cloud and whatever that means to you, is definitely here to stay. And it is at the forefront of the next generation of delivery.

We in fintech need to create our own model to work within. There is no right or wrong, but there is a very easy way to make it a mess. To avoid this, a focus on clarity, definition and strategic delivery planning for your old and new clients is key.
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