Banks call for cloud standards

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Banks call for cloud standards

Portability a concern for CBA, Westpac and ANZ.

Australia’s largest banks have called for the establishment of cloud computing standards to ensure they retain control of any outsourced IT.

Speaking at an AIIA forum in Sydney today, representatives from ANZ Bank, Westpac and Commonwealth Bank (CBA) highlighted concerns with data portability and vendor lock-in.

“A lot of people talk about getting into the cloud. Not very many talk about getting off the cloud,” Westpac head of engineering Michael Gindy said. “It’s early days ... The market will mature.”

Various consortiums have banded together to develop cloud computing standards, including the Intel-backed Open Data Center Alliance and TM Forum’s Enterprise Cloud Leadership Council.

The National Australia Bank was on the Alliance’s steering committee. Meanwhile, Council member CBA hoped to establish “boundaries” for cloud computing Service Level Agreements (SLAs).

CBA’s executive general manager of enterprise services Tim Whiteley said vendor lock-in was a concern – especially since cloud computing was marketed as being more flexible than traditional IT.

“How do we not buy the old model under a new name?” he said.

“Saying you’d back any horse [cloud provider] is probably not the right thing; as we get better offers and better opportunities from vendors, we should take advantage of that.

“[Having] standards in the industry is certainly going to be important, going forward.”

Greg Booker, CIO of ANZ Wealth, said ANZ Bank had embarked on four cloud computing projects, of which three were successful.

The three AIIA panellists were customers of Salesforce.com, which provided customer relationship management software as a service from data centres in North America and Singapore.

Since few ‘public cloud’ vendors had data centres in Australia, data sovereignty was a common concern.

Booker expected any guidance from finance industry regulator APRA to determine the uptake of cloud computing, which was “still in its infancy”.

“There’s no doubt whatsoever that it’s an area that – at some point – will be tested,” he said.

“The key challenge is: what if your cloud vendor vanishes? How do you protect yourself, how do you protect your business?”

In the face of an immature market, Westpac’s Gindy said picking a vendor “that will be around for the long haul” was key.

Internal IT staff should also prepare to become service management integrators, he said, describing Westpac’s team as the “glue” that held together various outsourced services.

Panellists expected the ability to choose, rapidly deploy and combine various cloud offerings to enable banks to more quickly and easily bring new, customer-centric products to market.

The panel was chaired by Fujitsu managing consulting director Martin North.

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