GDPR and the public cloud industry

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Given the large scale impact of this new regulation, the EU administration have released the requirements already, to give businesses, public agencies and citizens time to adapt already today and some time before it becomes actually legally binding.

GDPR, a Key topic for 2017 and 2018

The announcement of this new regulation caused lots of noise in the market and relevant IT media. The main challenge of course is, that not every business in Europe is compliant even with today’s regulations we have. With the General Data Protection Regulation – in short: GDPR – raising that bar quite a bit, more work for CIO’s and CISO’s is coming up; and even a CEO may well have to get involved. The topic has a significant business impact. No Europe based company can afford to ignore it and neither does any company servicing European customers from the USA or Asia.

Given the importance of this matter to our customers, our partners and ourselves we decided to dedicate a small series of blog posts to it. We want to reflect the core requirements expressed in the GDPR that are relevant in the public cloud context. We will also talk about how we, as a provider of managed cloud services and consultancy to a multitude of businesses across Europe, are affected by it and what we do to remain compliant. Most importantly though, we will talk about the impact to our customers and how they can make sure they are compliant at all times. As always, we’re here to help and guide you towards a secure future in using cloud services.

The Public Cloud and GDPR

When new security and data protection standards are released anywhere in the world, they have a lot of impact on the IT parts of a business especially. Hence, in the context of public cloud services, we see a huge attention of both customers and cloud providers alike. Although it will be discussed in a dedicated blog post in more detail, we want to give you a quick overview on the state of affairs in the public cloud market as of today:

The large players like Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure have already implemented a strong set of actual measures to comply with the GDPR today – have a look at their statements:

here: https://aws.amazon.com/compliance/eu-data-protection/
and here: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/trustcenter/privacy/gdpr#enterprise-product/
There are non-binding GDPR Code of Conducts that cloud businesses can comply with to show that they are adhering the regulation already today – check out the most relevant one, CISPE, here: https://cispe.cloud/

GDPR is not (just) about Technology

No matter where your cloud or hosting provider stands today, you should look at their current degree of compliance to the GDPR and most importantly, you have to make sure they allow your business to remain compliant to your customer expectations in the post May 2018 time. The compliance of your business to regulations is your responsibility, not that of your IT providers.

Our goal is to increase awareness around GDPR holistically and how it applies to our readers, irrespectively of who they are. That means we don’t focus purely on the technical, but also on the process and organisation side of the challenge at hand. Data Protection is certainly a technical topic when it comes to implementing defence mechanisms. But without understanding the legal and regulatory background, you will just be buying tools. We are looking at things end-2-end and will guide you towards the right setup for your business and customers.

At Nordcloud, we want you to get the most out of the public cloud. We will help you and your compliance teams understand the requirements of the GDPR and guide you towards a compliant future in the cloud. Look out for our follow-up blog posts that are going to be released on a weekly basis during the summer time.

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How to build a business case for the cloud in financial services

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The financial services sector is well known for its caution surrounding technological change, due to its history of regulations, legacy and money handling. However, with constant pressure on IT budgets and the need for digital innovation, financial services firms can no longer ignore the benefits the public cloud have to offer.

In a recent survey, 74 percent of banks report that the cloud will become a major factor in the industry within the next five years. Why? Because the cloud offers the financial services a cheaper, more scalable and agile way to improve their business operations without having to compromise security or compliance.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss the business case for moving your financial business to the cloud. Here are four benefits that may help solidify your decision to embrace digital transformation:

1. Cost Reductions:

In today’s unsteady economy, financial services are not just looking for ways to cope with cost pressures; they’re looking to invest in innovative technology to help them:

  • Compete with FinTech insurgents
  • Improve operational efficiency
  • Accelerate modelling and analysis
  • Serve customers better
  • Differentiate themselves in the market with innovative services

It’s no secret that well-architected environments in the cloud are a cheaper alternative to co-location or on-premise solutions. In fact, 88 percent of financial institutions believe that the reduction in TCO (total cost of ownership) is the biggest benefit of a cloud-based infrastructure. By embracing the cloud, money that was once spent on capital infrastructure and keeping servers cool can instead be used to focus on operations and opportunities that matter to individual businesses and their customers.

 

2. Integrated Security:

Although traditional data centres offer businesses a physical sense of security, they aren’t always the best long-term or most economic solution. For financial services that are planning on scaling their business and using new, innovative technologies, moving some of your infrastructure to the cloud is almost inevitable.

It’s important to note that this move does not make your data less secure. Despite the security myth surrounding cloud technology, your sensitive information will remain safe on the cloud, providing your financial business has a clear and strictly implemented security policy. Your level of security also depends on your cloud service provider.

Here are some examples of security features your provider can offer:

  • Access control that allows you to choose who in your business can, or cannot, access sensitive data. For instance, Azure Active Directory helps ensure that only authorised individuals can access your applications, environments and data.
  • Behaviour analytics that can detect threats and anomalies and report any unusual behaviour or unauthorised access.
  • Integrated security across all of your business’ applications, meaning that employees are safe to work from anywhere.
  • Continuous monitoring of your servers, applications and networks to detect threats. Businesses also have the option to deploy third-party security solutions within their cloud environment, such as firewalls and anti-malware.
  • Physical security. For example, Azure’s regional data centres include fencing, CCTV and security teams.
  • Shared security with your cloud service provider. In order to keep your data as secure as possible, your business needs to take responsibility for your own security practices, in regards to your applications and employees.

3. Quick & Economic Scalability:

Growth is important to all businesses, particularly when you’re handling new customers and data on a daily basis. With the cloud, companies can scale and deploy releases quickly and continuously (either automatically or manually) according to demand, or reduce resources if needed. This means that you only need to pay for the platforms that you actively use across your business or IT infrastructure.

For example, an insurance firm may need to run complex risk models to respond to market changes. Doing these calculations in the cloud lets them access hundreds or even thousands of processors to complete the modelling quickly. Yet, this performance isn’t required all the time so delivering this kind of high-performance computing cluster in-house is prohibitively expensive.

4. Big Data, automation, and analytics:

Storing large amounts of data isn’t much use if you don’t know how to handle it. Unlike traditional storage solutions, the cloud delivers a better, cheaper and more personable approach to big data and analytics. The intelligent insights you can harness allow you to deliver the best internal and customer engagement actions for your business.

Big data and integrated customer relationship management tools can allow you to:

  • Gain a 360-degree view of customer information and profiles. This can allow financial services to gain a better insight into customer trends and risks, as well as offer an opportunity to improve customer services.
  • Analyse transactions and operations quickly without having to manually look through masses of documents and memos. Ultimately, this allows the financial services to gain better insight into market trends, provide better customer service and help to automate some time-consuming workloads.
  • Access structured and unstructured data quickly across one integrated platform. Financial services are able to analyse this data to gain insights into regulatory risks across all disparate sources.

Embracing Change

Due to the regulations surrounding financial institutions, these organisations have historically been slower at adopting the cloud than other verticals.

However, the competition is not going away. The financial services industry is being challenged by more digitally focused banks that are able to offer their services quicker and more efficiently. This is because they have built their infrastructure in the cloud.

Using an experienced partner can help you to achieve the maximum benefits the cloud has to offer. So, if your financial business is ready to make the move to the cloud, contact us here. We’d love to hear from you.

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How to support cloud and digital transformation? Build an agile company

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The cloud is designed to be agile. Its versatile platform allows your business to respond quickly to changes in the market and embrace digital transformation. But for cloud to work effectively you need more than just the right technology – you need the right culture.

‘To support this rapid, iterative optimisation of our business the internal organisations that staff, fund, manage, and reward our people need to exhibit that same level of agility,’ writes Jeff Gothelf in the Harvard Business Review.

Here are three ways you can build an agile company culture that supports the cloud, so you can get the most out of your digital transformation.

1. Share a common vision

Digital transformation is like rowing a boat; if one person is rowing in the opposite direction, it makes hard work for everyone else. Likewise, you won’t be able to push forward with the cloud if you’re faced with resistance from a few uncommitted employees. To ensure everyone is on the same page, you need a shared vision that they can believe in.

‘This common vision,’ according to PwC, ‘enables businesses to develop flexible organisational designs, adaptive management techniques, and efficient operations.’

2. Abolish the hierarchy

Not entirely, of course, but loosening the reins to give employees more decision-making power will drive your business forward. The agile methodology is founded upon making small but important decisions quickly so you can make progress.

While the decision may not always be the right one, because the changes are smaller it’s easier to backtrack than if you wait months for a decision to come through several layers of management.

3. Make it a business goal

‘Future innovations are not limited to technology and product development,’ says Yang Yuanqing, Chairman of Lenovo Group, ‘but more importantly, they are driven by the business model.’

For the cloud and digital transformation to be adopted across the entire business, it must become ingrained in all your processes, not just one small silo. Someone has to be the champion that drives this integration forward and ensures that the agile methodology becomes a core part of your business operations.

Process first, technology second

‘If you are building a service-oriented architecture, you can do it just from an IT perspective, and that’s an interesting exercise,’ says George Glass, chief architect at BT Design. ‘But if you do it as part of a business transformation, and you start becoming an agile enterprise, you can really start to leverage the benefit.’

Traditional approaches have held big businesses back, allowing their competition to jump ahead. Infrastructure in the cloud enables teams to achieve transformation with agility, allowing for business innovation and, ultimately, growth.

Embracing the cloud and digital transformation has the potential to push you far ahead of the competition, but it all starts with an agile culture.

If you’d like to learn more about creating an agile company culture, contact us here

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