Big Banks Talk Containers & Cloud


In the finance sector, data safety is paramount. The adoption of cloud and containers by two huge banks demonstrates that these technologies are of use to virtually any organization.

  • The Growing Financial Cloud
  • Simplification at the Big Banks
  • Streamlining & Public Cloud
  • Forest, Not Trees
  • Top Performance & Security

The Growing Financial Cloud

For financial firms, the question of using the third-party virtual systems of public cloud is challenging: financial information must be highly secure both to maintain reputation and to stay in line with regulations. Any data solution used by banks must be carefully scrutinized prior to deployment.

Two of the findings from a poll published in the spring by the Cloud Security Alliance suggest that the financial industry, like healthcare and the rest of business, are increasingly comfortable with cloud technology, particularly public cloud:

  • More than four out of five finance-sector companies that are still establishing their cloud plan will use public options (as opposed to private or hybrid ones), at least in part.
  • Almost three-quarters of poll participants were currently transitioning from hybrid to public models.

Those “two statistics show added comfort and assurance when practicing in the cloud and [are] an encouraging sign of maturity in cloud confidence,” according to the team who designed the poll.

Goldman Sachs and Bank of America are cases in point.

Simplification at the Big Banks

Since 2009, Goldman Sachs has been gradually shifting its computing to the cloud. Today, approximately 85% of its infrastructure is cloud-based, according to the company’s cloud director, J Ram. As cloud has risen in finance, so have application containers – and that’s true both at Goldman Sachs and Bank of America.

These companies are technologically massive. While Bank of America has 9000 infrastructure personnel and almost 18,000 developers, Goldman Sachs has more than 4000 applications and 8000 developers.

Beginning in the spring of 2014, containers (dominated by the emergence of the increasingly popular Docker) became increasingly accepted as a trusted way to package apps for easier portability. Ram notes that containers, already used in some production environments at Goldman, are essentially about better integrating the various elements of IT (development, operations, and administration) into a more easily controlled linear progression.

“[Containers] allow infrastructure folks to start optimizing the platform, application teams to think about application delivery and operation teams to think about operational scale and handling that complexity,” he says.

Bank of America has not yet cleared any containers for production, according to the company’s technology strategist, Ryan Thomas. However, they are currently being used in dozens of development and test settings, with broad acceleration planned for 2016.

Thomas thinks that containers are revolutionary because they allow the bank’s developers and datacenter employees to become much more efficient. They help the business shift focus away from enterprise service buses and middleware, amplifying productivity and innovation. It’s primarily about redirecting activity rather than cutting costs.

“Simplifying that and really flipping ratios of people who are just maintaining, supporting, managing applications, to people who are pushing the applications forward and bringing more value for our customers is the foundation of the goal,” he explains.

Streamlining & Public Cloud

This seismic technological shift isn’t just about individual roles but about consolidating systems. Bank of America is in the process of closing nearly 90% of its data centers (64 in 2014 reduced to 8 by December 2016). That change is in large part because of its continuing public cloud adoption. The same trend is seen at Goldman Sachs.

These general IT migrations are certainly not as simple as pushing a button in the case of a large enterprise. For instance, Bank of America has an extraordinarily complex infrastructure because of mergers and acquisitions. Similarly, Goldman Sachs ran into typical obstacles including refashioning configuration and incorporating legacy source code into containers and cloud.

Forest, Not Trees

Another aspect of the size of these two organizations is that it’s easy for managers to think about improving their own piece rather than considering the whole puzzle. Instead of getting excited about what a breakthrough tool can do for 0.5% of workloads, it’s better to think about adjustments that can generally upgrade your efficiency.

Again, another major element is data safety, as Thomas reiterates. ““As you move into a container world… you’re moving more and more into a world that hasn’t been vetted with the compliance and regulatory environments,” he says, “and that’s a challenge for us, and that’s always somewhat of a lag for us.”

Top Performance & Security

Are you looking for public cloud that is top-echelon both in terms of performance and security? At Superb Internet, our cloud is better than the majority of providers for a number of reasons:

  • We use distributed storage, so there are no bottlenecks.
  • We use InfiniBand for dozens of times lower latency.
  • Our cloud plans are never oversold, allowing our confident guarantees.
  • Our certifications include SSAE-16, ISO 27001:2013, and ISO 9001:2008.

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