Keeping up with customer demands, shareholder expectations and emerging technologies can be challenging for any business. Add government regulations, such as demonstrating disaster recovery compliance to regulatory bodies, and an IT professional’s job gets that much harder.
Take banking and finance, for example, an industry layered with expectations and regulations – and opportunity. Deloitte’s Banking Industry Outlook 2018 predicts 2018 can be the year banks transform into “more strategically focused, technologically driven, and operationally agile institutions, so that they may remain dominant in a rapidly evolving ecosystem.” But the transformation won’t be easy.
Banks are not only dealing with complex government regulations, but also legacy systems, new competitors, disruptive technologies and soaring expectations from their customers. Deloitte’s report identifies key areas of consideration to enable long-term growth. They all involve investments in – and careful management of – technology. Let’s look at two key themes: technology management and mitigating cyber risk.
Management of technology resources at most banks is challenging, involving a collection of new and legacy infrastructure, operating systems, platforms, software and tools. When it comes to technology management, modernizing core operating infrastructure is imperative. Nearly a quarter of global banking respondents to a 2016 Ovum ICT Enterprise Insights Survey said that modernization ranked as their most important Information Technology (IT) trend. To achieve modernization in some functions, banks are relying more on the use of third-party resources to design, develop and manage technology solutions in the cloud. Other mission-critical functions, such as compliance and risk management, will continue to be maintained internally.
Cyber risk is understandably a top concern for financial services risk managers. According to Deloitte, “The potential for cyber risk has been increasing with greater interconnectedness in the banking ecosystem, rapid adoption of new technologies, and continued reliance on legacy infrastructure designed for a different age.” The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, also known as the Financial Modernization Act of 1999, includes data security provisions to protect consumers’ personal financial information held by financial institutions. Other guidelines set forth by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) cover back-up and disaster recovery testing.
At the core of these risks and opportunities is the network that connects it all. The operation of ATMs, online and mobile banking, cloud-based applications, data center functions and disaster recovery sites all hinge on robust, reliable and secure Wide Area Network (WAN) connections. To meet customer expectations and enable financial institutions to comply with government regulations, these networks must offer more bandwidth than ever, while maintaining security compliance.
Many banks previously relied on Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) for secure site-to-site connections. For the bandwidth required today, adequate MPLS connections are often not available, or are cost prohibitive. Public broadband services solve the bandwidth issue but do not offer the same built-in security. That’s where Software-Defined Wide Area Networking (SD-WAN) fits in, establishing secure VPN connections across any service, from any provider.
Stearns Bank is a financial institution based in the Midwest, with branches in Minnesota, Florida and Arizona. The bank struggled with getting enough secure bandwidth, while demonstrating complete disaster recovery compliance.
“One of our data centers has limited options from a local telco. We were running on a bonded T1 at 3 MB and that wasn’t fast enough for even our day-to-day operations. Productivity was suffering because of speed,” said Jeff Nelson, Senior Network Infrastructure Engineer at Stearns Bank.
Stearns Bank needed to add bandwidth in a way that ensured safeguards to meet the needs of its customers and satisfy banking regulators. Advanced Communications Consulting (ACC), the primary consultants and telecom service brokers for Stearns Bank for WAN infrastructure and telephony, recommended Ecessa.
“With Ecessa’s SD-WAN solution we’ve gone from 3 MB to 90 MB while remaining 100% in compliance,” said Nelson. The solution also helps Stearns Bank meet guidelines set forth by the OCC and FFIEC for back-up and disaster recovery testing. “Our data centers talk as if they’re in the same building. We can back-up in real-time, do disaster recovery testing and share databases between branches.”
Download the entire Stearns Bank case study below.
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