Wells Fargo lays the foundation for the transformation of the public cloud

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Like many leading financial firms, Wells Fargo is taking a slow and steady path to the public cloud.

The ambitious 10-year public cloud transformation will begin in early 2022, a migration that Christopher. Marsh-Bourdon, Head of Hybrid Environments and Technology Infrastructure at Wells Fargo, will include a hybrid private and public multi-cloud architecture based on Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform as well as third-party data centers.

“In 2022, we will begin deploying applications in the public cloud on US soil,” says Marsh-Bourdon. “We have a private cloud and a number of different private clouds based on open source technologies like Kubernetes.”

Financial firms have been among the last to use the public cloud due to concerns about the risk of hackers stealing customers’ monetary assets. So an important part of Wells Fargo’s cloud transformation has been an emphasis on security.

“Confidentiality and security are extremely important to us – the basis of our cloud strategy – and firmly anchored from the start. Safety is a huge factor and it’s so important that we get it right before we move, ”says Marsh-Bourdon.

Two years ago, the San Francisco, California-based company hired Marsh-Bourdon, a veteran of JP Morgan, Deutsche Bank, and Amazon Web Services to drive the company’s tiered move to the cloud, a plan that is still pending together says Marsh-Bourdon, noting that while some advanced applications are migrated to the public cloud and others are written specifically for public cloud stacks, nothing is set in stone.

“There will be a combination; … it’s not cut and dried, “he tells CIO.com, adding that some applications are stored locally in private clouds.

Wells Fargo currently has nothing in the public cloud. “Financial institutions, not just Wells Fargo, were just not up to speed with the move to the cloud, and that is perfectly appropriate for our company and the industry in which we operate,” said Marsh-Bourdon.

Basics and guidelines

According to IDC’s Global CloudPath Industry Survey 2021, only 20% of large banks said they had optimized their operations for the cloud by largely implementing a cloud-native strategy, while a majority (53%) reported increasing investments in non-cloud platforms.

Wells Fargo

Christopher Marsh-Bourdon, Head of Hybrid Environments and Technology Infrastructure, Wells Fargo

With smaller banks, however, the race for the cloud has been going on for a long time, 79% are current users of the public cloud according to an IDC survey.

However, the slowdown in the pandemic gave Marsh-Bourdon an opportunity to delve deeper into the design of Wells Fargo’s cloud vision and map for the next decade. The key to the plan will be to strengthen its Kubernetes-based “containerized” approach to enable business units to move workloads from private to public clouds and vice versa in an agile manner while writing cloud-native applications when appropriate .

“We don’t think we should just take the applications as they exist and simply lift them up and move them to the cloud. We’re redesigning for the cloud, ”he says. “That doesn’t mean everything will be cloud-native.”

Wells Fargo will consider many factors in making these decisions, such as: B. where the applications are located, what language they are written in, and their “burstability” requirements – ie how elastic the workloads are and to what extent they are quickly scaled up and down.

Apps that are in peak can stay in Wells Fargo’s private cloud or be moved to the public cloud, but each move is carefully analyzed, he says, adding that the company uses a scoring mechanism that analyzes an app’s source code for the best way to determine.

“We don’t expect to do this overnight,” says Marsh-Bourdon of the 10-year plan, noting that Wells Fargo has many uses on client / server and midrange servers, on mainframes and in private clouds. It’s important to slowly shift the reins in deciding which workloads to move to the public cloud.

“We’re going to look for applications that have low data categorization [to the cloud] … and [build] Applications with an architectural pattern that fits the cloud so that we [more experienced in migrations], “he says.” Then we can adapt and take over more complex or data-critical applications in the future. “

Introduction to the cloud culture

An IDC analyst claims that only a handful of highly complex financial houses moved to the public cloud because this is the highest risk migration.

“Institutes like Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, even Capital One, and more and more these days, US Bank, the top 5, they work very differently from the rest of the banking organizations in the US,” says Jerry Silva, an analyst at IDC. “They’re very tech-heavy, they have tens of thousands of [IT pros] and can create custom applications that they believe will differentiate them in the marketplace. “

Wells Fargo will leverage Azure’s critical data and analytics services to accelerate transformation to improve customer experience and employee collaboration.

For example, over time, Wells Fargo will migrate embedded finance payment optimization applications to the cloud. The apps are divided between the two public cloud platforms according to best-of-breed principles.

Was Google’s investment in artificial intelligence a factor? “Of course, AI machine learning is a huge technology area right now, and Google has a number of advantages in this area,” says Marsh-Bourdon, declining to specify the exact type of workloads that will run on Microsoft and Google’s cloud or cloud.

It’s still a work in progress, but the biggest hurdle in the road that has stalled public cloud adoption by large financial firms – security concerns – appears to have been mitigated by cloud providers, he says.

“We have a high level of confidence … but we’re not so confident that we take our eyes off the screen,” says Marsh-Bourdon. “We continue to evaluate and adopt new technologies as soon as they emerge and when new risks arise.”

Potential benefits include greater resilience and scalability of workloads, as well as the ability to build next-generation cloud-native apps that create new customer experiences, he says.

With security less important, the biggest challenge now is to find IT professionals with sufficient knowledge of the cloud. Wells Fargo has launched an intensive in-house training program for its employees, but Marsh-Bourdon understands that its primary concern is adopting cloud practices and “getting our workforce to use the cloud for themselves,” he says.

Of course, Marsh-Bourden expects to encounter other bumps along the way, and while Wells Fargo’s plans to move to the public cloud in 2022 are in place, the company stands ready to adjust its timeframe and scope to reflect common sense.

“We’re not going to move to the cloud this week or this year. This is a long-term investment, ”says Marsh-Bourdon. “The simple answer is, we’ll do it when we’re ready. To date something like this is ultimately the wrong approach. “


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