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Is the Software-Defined Data Center a Good Fit for Financial Services?

Author: Mark Sarago

Most of my career as a chief information officer was in the financial services field, including mortgage banking, insurance and auto lending/leasing. Financial services companies, as well as healthcare providers and insurers, have heightened sensitivity to industry compliance rules and customer privacy concerns. As a result, the IT organization often prioritizes its focus on a tight security profile.

Compliance and privacy concerns range from restricting access to customer Personally Identifiable Information (PII), patient healthcare records (HIPAA compliance), and the company financial data or customer equity and bond trading transactions (SEC compliance). Breaches to data security that result in violations of compliance and privacy rules can result multi-million dollar fines or severely tarnishing a well-established brand.

It was not uncommon for my organization’s chief risk officer or chief legal counsel to forcibly mandate that no company or customer data move beyond the “four walls” of our dedicated data centers.

Recently, as a VMware Accelerate Advisory Services strategist working with a global financial institution, I saw this security mandate extend to a prohibition against the use of public cloud services or the use of multi-tenant, co-located data centers for business software application development, quality assurance procedures, and high-volume stress-testing activities—even when the underlying test data was completely fictitious! (click on image to download related case study)

The main concern with using a public cloud is that services are typically provided in multi-tenant environments. Multi-tenancy is the norm because it significantly reduces the operating costs for the public cloud provider. As a result, financial services, healthcare and insurance companies usually bypass pubic cloud solutions in favor of implementing private clouds within wholly owned or dedicated data centers.

The capabilities offered by the software-defined data center (SDDC) are perfect for private clouds, and accordingly, are an appropriate fit for financial services, healthcare and insurance companies that operate dedicated data centers.

SDDC provides software systems and technologies to virtualize networks and storage, as well as servers. SDDC implementations result in reducing overall CapEx and OpEx costs while enhancing automated workload provisioning, pooling resources and application security.

Financial institutions, healthcare and insurance companies that are early adopters of SDDC technologies are focused on implementing the components in dedicated private clouds. I expect this trend to continue as SDDC features become more widely adopted in the near-term future.

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Mark Sarago is a business solutions strategist with VMware Accelerate Advisory Services.

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