The benefits of migrating into the cloud have long been evident. However, certain challenges have held the Financial Services Industry (FSI) organisations back from fully embracing the flexibility, agility and cost effectiveness of cloud-based solutions, particularly with regard to data storage. With the Covid-19 pandemic causing a rapid acceleration in digital transformation initiatives, and the need to embrace the latest technology in the most cost effective way, this move has now begun in earnest. As always, data protection remains a key priority, especially with the Protection of Personal Information Act (PoPIA) ramping up in 2021. Pure Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) backup and recovery in the cloud is the ideal solution to ease cloud migration challenges for FSI organisations.

Blockers in the road to digital transformation progress

One of the biggest roadblocks to cloud adoption in financial services has always been security concerns. There is also the issue of data sovereignty to content with, as the vast majority of FSIs cannot store their data outside of the country. This means that public cloud services could potentially store data anywhere in the world. In addition, FSIs have large investments into proprietary and legacy infrastructure, which has put pause to their move into the cloud.

Says Modeen Malick, Principle Systems Engineer at Commvault: “The data sovereignty challenge has, to a large degree, been solved by hyperscaler’s like Microsoft opening local data centres in South Africa. However the challenge of actually getting the data into the cloud remains, and security changes from on-prem to the cloud need to be considered.”

The benefits outweigh the problems

The rapid need to change processes and enable greater remote working capability means that FSIs have accelerated their transformation. While this may be seen as disruptive, there are a number of benefits to the cloud migration. This is definitely true when it comes to data storage, but given regulatory and compliance requirements, FSIs need to consider their backup and recovery strategy as a matter of highest priority. Therefore, Backup-as-a-Service (Baas) delivered natively in the cloud is the optimal solution to many FSI cloud challenges.

“SaaS cloud storage allows FSIs to securely migrate legacy data into the cloud and BaaS ensures it is protected with relevant security protocols and guarantees that they have a true, airtight virtual copy of data. This means that, in the event of ransomware, they have a valid copy of their data that they can restore quickly and easily,” says Gerhard Fourie, District Channel Manager for South Africa at Commvault.

BaaS removes the traditional procurement cycle around ordering hardware, installing software platforms, setting up solutions and more. With BaaS, FSIs can access enterprise-class backup, recovery and data protection without the prolonged timelines and extreme architectural phases, at a more cost effective rate. In addition, the onus is on the provider to ensure that hardware can keep up with software evolution, so protection will always be of the highest standard and the latest technology.

Choosing the right provider is key

“Financial industries have to deal with strict compliance laws. The right SaaS provider needs to adhere to global compliance regulations for peace of mind around this. With local organisations scrambling to put processes into place around PoPIA, the time for cloud solutions has come,” says Johannes Kanis, Cloud and Enterprise Business Group Lead at Microsoft.

“With the right provider, cloud-based backup and recovery can help FSI organisations manage compliance, scale up or down as needed, and effectively manage spiralling data costs. With the need to accelerate data management practices while also optimising costs, BaaS is perfect, as it can be switched on immediately and moves infrastructure from CapEx to OpEx,” he adds.

While cloud offers many benefits, technology is not a substitute for people and process. These also need to be addressed, and a SaaS provider can assist. The majority of FSIs have an environment consisting of multiple products and services, in a hybrid scenario of on-prem and public and private cloud. A single pane of glass view of data, that is easy to deploy and can be up and running in minutes, can significantly ease the migration. In addition, this reduces the overhead of skills required and the cost of infrastructure, for a predictable monthly cost.

“Cloud is the future and FSIs need to step up digital transformation. However, backup and recovery are not their core business, and they cannot dedicate the resources to it that are needed in these challenging times. SaaS solutions deliver enterprise grade, best of breed data protection and recovery that eases the migration into the cloud while ensuring security and compliance are handled,” Fourie concludes.