Our Viewpoint

Our Viewpoint

Weathering Disasters with Cloud Computing

January 01, 2014

When the elements of nature collide to deliver staggering impacts to community financial institutions and the communities they serve, our natural instincts usually drive us into quick reactions, and sometimes even panic. The silver lining to these tragic events is cloud computing, and the shelter it can provide. It is the type of shelter that makes us feel prepared and confident, knowing we have taken the preventative measures within our control allowing us to re-direct our focus from our business to protecting our families and friends. As evidenced most recently by Hurricane Sandy, the weather can surprise us at any time, bringing on the unthinkable to our peaceful communities….throwing everything and everyone into a chaotic state, sometimes lasting days, weeks or even months.

What happens to your financial institution...

When your power goes down?
When your facility is flooded?
When your customers/members cannot access their accounts?
When your operation is closed for days after a storm?
When your clients/members have nowhere to go to get their money?

Wouldn't it be nice to no longer have to worry about the answers to these questions?

Cloud computing has the potential to give your institution the ability to remain in business even with the worst of disasters. It offers flexibility that can separate your institutions from the competition and deliver what no mega-institution can.

Cloud Computing - Business Continuity and Disaster Preparedness

While most people are realizing the important benefits of cloud computing like: cost reduction and avoidance, flexibility, ability to scale, and speed of technology integration, many don’t appreciate how cloud computing is, at its core, an excellent way to guarantee true Disaster Recovery (DR) and Business Continuity (BC). Since the cloud computing infrastructure is remote from your institution, contained in a highly advanced and stable environment, with robust and comprehensive contingencies and fault-tolerant scenarios in alternative data centers, there is really no better solution for a financial institution to stay in business when disaster strikes.

Community financial institutions that utilize an outsourced cloud computing solution are connected to their cloud provider through a private connection (often an MPLS connection). In addition, almost all community financial institutions have an additional secure secondary connection to their cloud provider via the Internet. With these two redundant connections, the ability to access all of your business applications, data, and core processes are possible if one or the other “pipes” to the cloud provider is cut or broken.

In the event that both connections are compromised, such as the case might be when your institution loses power, is flooded, or has been devastated by a natural or manmade disaster, cloud computing still allows access to your data, your critical applications, and your core processing. All you need is an Internet connected device: PC, laptop, iPad, or other tablet or even a Smart Phone, and connect using any standard browser. Voila! You are in business!

Granted, you may have to visit a coffee shop down the street and use WiFi, or go to another business or friend’s home with an Internet connection. You might connect using a 3G or 4G WiMAX connection, but what is important is that all of your institution’s critical information is available securely from any device, any time with an Internet connection. If your town or community has been deluged by a disaster or destabilizing event, your employees can still access data from an Internet connection from anywhere. If that is the case, your employees can visit the next town or community to use the Internet or WiMAX. The bottom line is that ALL of your institution’s data and critical information is safe and accessible in almost any disaster scenario.

Affordable Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery

While an outsourced cloud computing solution can provide your institution with world-class Disaster Recovery (DR) and Business Continuity (BC), what is most important is that you can gain this benefit affordably. Outsourced clouds for community financial institutions benefit from economies of scale (EOS) since they are shared by multiple community financial institutions (known as “tenants”). The EOS benefits are a natural component of cloud computing that not only provide great savings to individual clients with BC and DR, but also provide many other benefits like flexibility, scalability, risk mitigation, increased security, speed, remote access from anywhere with any device and the ability to add new users and applications at a moment’s notice. All of the benefits of cloud computing provide institutions with the ability to enhance their current infrastructures without the concern of ongoing and unpredictable capital investments in technology.

Replicating the BC and DR that the cloud provides would be very difficult for most institutions to afford on their own. The ability to operate during almost any natural disaster and achieve all the other business benefits are indeed some of the most important deliverables of cloud computing for a community financial institution.

Where to Start

The “road to cloud conversion” starts with a plan. Begin by evaluating your current technology environment and the state of your BC and DR planning. In addition, take a look at the life of your institution’s technology assets. Are you planning a hardware upgrade in the near future? If the answer is yes, it might be a very good time to consider migrating to the cloud and avoid making the investment in more technology infrastructure.

Most community financial institutions begin by talking with a cloud solution specialist who can answer their questions and determine exactly if, how, and when to move to the cloud and the benefits they should expect. While many have opinions and ideas about cloud computing, it is important to consult with a “cloud expert”; ideally one who is well-versed in the regulatory demands required of financial institutions.

Most importantly, don’t let your institution be a victim when disaster strikes. Start planning now so you will be ready even in the most unexpected circumstances.

Author

Kevin Paugh
Strategic Alliance Sales Manager

Kevin Paugh is strategic alliance sales manager building and managing D+H’s partner alliances. He ensures alliance partners are properly engaged, creates processes to streamline operations, develops initiatives expanding partners’ growth and leverages alliance marketing programs to generate increased sales. Kevin has more than 20 years of experience in IT as well as senior leadership roles at retail, consumer packaged goods, health care and marketing operations.