The Financial Industry in the AWS Cloud

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AWS has made great strides recently to accelerate agility and enable innovation for financial institutions. NASDAQ’s story is a good example: the stock exchange recently utilized Amazon Redshift to replace its existing data warehouses for its U.S. equities and options exchanges. On a nightly basis, NASDAQ loads more than 5 billion rows of data into Redshift. This has helped NASDAQ satisfy several security and regulatory audits, and significantly reduce their operational expenses and overhead. The case of NASDAQ illustrates the point that data security is a high priority for financial industry firms – with data protection and security standard compliance at the top of almost any financial executive’s list.

Data breaches, compliance concerns, privacy and data retention and destruction are ongoing concerns for the industry, and financial institutions want to overcome these challenges to benefit from the cloud’s cost-effectiveness, scalability and faster time-to-market for system deployment. As financial companies look to take advantage of this AWS know-how, they can offer greater benefits and capabilities for their clients. In this article, we’ll discuss some of the AWS resources available to financial institutions, and cover how AWS is using its shared computing and storage infrastructure to help move these companies to the cloud.

Financial Institutions in the AWS Cloud

AWS has been instrumental in helping financial institutions transform legacy IT infrastructure into innovative ideas and solutions. Cloud IaaS is one area where AWS continues to help power innovation. In the 2016 Gartner Magic Quadrant report, AWS was named as part of the ‘leaders’ quadrant for the sixth straight year and was noted as having both the furthest completeness of vision and the highest ability to execute. For example, the Financial Times, one of the world’s leading business news organizations, is using Amazon Redshift to quickly and cost-effectively analyze their data. The company uploaded two years’ worth of FT.com behavioral data for an initial load of approximately two billion records – covering every click on FT.com. They were ultimately able to increase their speed so much that they were running some queries 98 percent faster, and saving 80 percent on costs while doing so.

Intuit, a leading provider of financial management software for consumers, small businesses and accounting professionals, recently moved its TurboTax AnswerXchange application to the AWS cloud. Intuit reduced their cost factor six-fold and as a result, no longer needed to maintain idle servers for an application that was only active during tax season. They eventually moved 26 services, 33 applications and eight enabling tools to the AWS cloud. Services like Amazon Redshift and others help financial institutions provide database encryption for their clusters, and protect data at rest.

Financial firms can also use the Amazon Shared Responsibility Model to help cover the physical security of their data centers. And to run robust operations on top of Amazon (including, for example, complete control over security groups’ configuration), financial companies can automate their backup and recovery across accounts, with the ability to keep multiple replicas of the data across AWS regions.

Financial Industry Challenges

In the financial industry, stringent regulatory and compliance standards can be particularly tricky, and this requires financial firms to be increasingly agile and employ dynamic security capabilities. For example, AON, a global provider of risk management, needed an effective solution for addressing the difficult regulatory requirements they faced. By using AWS services such as AWS EBS and AWS EC2 backup service, the company’s regulatory reporting was reduced from weeks to a matter of hours and minutes. Risk assessment is also a major concern. AWS has developed a strategic business plan specifically designed to help financial institutions mitigate and manage risks. The business plan is reevaluated at least biannually and implements appropriate measures for identifying and addressing the risks these institutions face.

Final Notes/Summary

In the highly competitive and heavily regulated financial industry, financial firms understand the need for secure, compliant cloud solutions – ones where the benefits of the cloud offset the risk of protection failures and reputational damage. Firms can utilize a wealth of AWS cloud services to ensure stored backups are secure, store their data in multiple locations to ensure sufficient backup and AWS disaster recovery service, and have notifications in place for monitoring and backup status.

While the financial industry has been traditionally slow to adopt new technology, the realities of the industry today mean that they are starting to understand the many benefits that the cloud can bring. Ultimately, these companies have come to the realization that moving to the cloud is not merely an option anymore – it’s a must.

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