The Benefits of a Multi-Cloud Strategy in Financial Services

It’s been more than a decade since Amazon launched AWS and jump-started the move to the cloud. And in that time, we’ve seen a lot of new competitors spring up and we’ve learned a lot of lessons about what makes a cloud architecture successful. One of the latest strategies to emerge that takes those lessons into account is the multi-cloud architecture, which splits up a cloud deployment across multiple vendors.

Today, we’re focusing on the financial services industry and looking at the benefits a multi-cloud strategy can provide for big and small players in the financial world. As we’ll see, multi-cloud is especially well-suited for financial services companies, because it offers the ability to combine the strengths of multiple cloud providers to benefit the security and reliability of your infrastructure.

What is Multi-cloud?

While the concept is rather simple, multi-cloud deployments do have some nuance. At its core, multi-cloud means working with multiple cloud vendors, rather than just putting everything in Amazon (or Microsoft’s Azure, or Google Cloud). Of course, that could mean anything from evenly splitting your servers between two providers to assigning particular components to particular companies, putting your database in Oracle’s cloud and having your file storage in IBM’s.

Multi-cloud deployments can develop organically, when an enterprise has a longstanding relationship with one cloud provider, but reaches for another platform for a new feature or because one cloud service is cheaper. This is what happened when Netflix branched out from Amazon. More often these days, a company can also opt for a multi-cloud approach from the start, in order to promote best practices and avoid vendor lock-in from the beginning.

What’s the upside?

For companies that use a multi-cloud strategy from the start, the most-cited reason is typically reliability. Combining resources from multiple clouds means that if one provider has an outage, your entire backend won’t fail as a result. You simply compensate by shifting resources from one provider to the next. In an industry where transaction processing uptime is essential, you don’t want to have an AWS outage turn into customer-facing downtime.

Of course, the benefits aren’t only in terms of reliability. The financial services sector faces significantly higher regulatory burden than other industries making the move to the cloud. PCI compliance, additional GDPR requirements, and data governance rules all make moving to the cloud more fraught than it has to be. But multi-cloud can help here too. By making your cloud architecture more adaptable, multi-cloud allows you to take advantage of different security and compliance offerings from different vendors.

And it’s not just compliance. A multi-cloud strategy lets you pick and choose what you want from different vendors, as they compete to offer you better services. Interested in the newest machine-learning-as-a-service offerings from Google? You can add them to your cloud strategy. Enticed by the cheap pricing for compute resources from Amazon’s spot auctions? You can move some of your compute demand there while the price is cheap.

Consider the example of HSBC, which has pioneered a multi-cloud approach in the financial world. They leverage cloud services from Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Oracle. They’re able to draw on AWS for reliable deployments, Google for security, and database teams from all over. That way they can play to the advantages of multiple providers, taking advantage of the specialisation many of these providers offer to help their overall cloud strategy.

Choosing Multi-cloud

While not everyone has the resources of HSBC to plan and execute a multi-cloud strategy, the good news is it’s easy to get started. Transitioning to a multi-cloud strategy starts by simple evaluating multiple cloud providers when planning build-outs of new functionality. Once you break free from the vendor lock-in of only reaching for your current cloud provider, everything gets easier. As your infrastructure grows, you’ll benefit from having an adaptable, reliable multi-cloud foundation.

If you’re looking to take advantage of a multi-cloud approach to improve your organisation’s infrastructure reliability, let us know. We’ve helped industry-leading financial services companies as well as public sector partners handle large multi-cloud deployments, and we can do the same for you.