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Guest View: A cloud fit for finance

James Walker | Dec. 16, 2013
As a business model, the cloud’s massive resources and ubiquity offers unbeatable value – but it has evolved as a general-purpose solution, and not one geared to the very special demands of financial services, says James Walker, President of the CloudEthernet Forum.

As in the routing example, the Internet has been brought up like a good boy scout to "do its best". But what is sometimes needed is not "the best" but rather a clearly specified standard - whether by geography or time lapse. This is an important issue that is not innate to cloud philosophy, so it needs pressure from concerned stakeholders to get timing on the agenda for future cloud development.

Can't we just use private clouds?

There is an obvious solution to the challenges discussed so far: forget the public cloud and still take advantage of the cloud concept by commissioning your own private cloud purpose-built to meet your exact requirements.

This is fine in theory, but what do you need from your private cloud, and do you have the necessary resources? If computation power is what you want, then it would be very costly to build anything to compare with the massive resources available from public cloud providers.

While storage of data might be wisely constrained to a secure private cloud, there are certain tasks that are better farmed out. For example the colossal number-crunching needed to rebuild some of the today's complex trading algorithms would be beyond the power of any normal company datacentre. But cloud services can provide a "sandbox" big enough for any experimental algorithm to play in until it is proven.

This would be by far the fastest route to accelerating development of trading systems ahead of competitors but, even without the use of private data safely stored in-house, the algorithm itself becomes very interesting to competing companies. So security in the cloud again becomes a very hot topic.

It is an opportunity

A cloud that promises to do its best, and not bother you with the details as to how it achieves it - that is what we have inherited and it serves most of the world very well on those terms. But it is not a cloud that large parts of the finance industry can trust.

It does not have to be that way. The cloud is changing fast right now, and there are industry forums, including the CloudEthernet Forum, that are having an increasing say in how it is changing. These must be explored.

Find a forum that addresses the sort of interest that would serve your business. Join it, become active and make sure your voice is heard.

Service providers, equipment vendors, software developers and systems integrators are already joining the CEF to make sure that tomorrow's cloud is shaped to serve their needs. Don't let the needs of the finance sector be overlooked in this rush.


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