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This is the first entry in the new Tales from the Field series from NetApp. The Tales from the Field series will explore customer trends in vertical areas including Financial Services, Healthcare, Media & Entertainment, Oil & Gas, and High Tech. NetApp executives and customers will also detail use cases, including challenges and solutions, in today’s IT environments.


For the longest time, the role of CIOs and IT within financial services organizations was generally three fold – reducing cost, ensuring the infrastructure is humming along day to day and meeting security regulations. But with the rise of mobile, data, and cloud computing, as well as a whole new level of cyber threats and concerns, the roles are shifting from custodians to innovators.
Meghan Fintland of NetApp’s Corporate Communications team sat down with Monty Zarrouk at NetApp to discuss the shifting role of IT and what financial services organizations have been doing to stay on the cutting edge, while meeting compliance and regulatory demands.
How has the rise of mobile, analytics and cloud affected the financial services industry?
For industries like financial services, where every millisecond counts, companies are under pressure to make better decisions, faster or risk falling to the wayside. To keep up with the competition, organizations’ are looking to technology as a means to improve efficiencies by automating decision making, while managing more and more extreme workloads.
Operationally speaking, this means financial services firms have had to undergo an IT infrastructure transformation to keep up as the pace of business quickens.


Monty Zarrouk.jpgWhat does this mean for the CIO and IT?
More and more financial companies are looking to gain a competitive edge through innovative technology. As a result, the C-Suite is turning to their CIO and IT staff to solve business challenges, and drive new opportunities with innovative solutions.   Basically, in addition to maintaining and securing an organization’s data and infrastructure on a daily basis, IT is now expected to uncover new ways to improve efficiencies and drive growth through technology.
At the most fundamental level, it means that IT is moving from an operational mindset – day-to-day – to a strategic one – looking at how technology of today will impact a business’s bottom-line in the future. By better aligning with the organization’s business priorities, working with Lines of Business to drive business critical initiatives, CIOs and IT can bring more innovative and strategic solutions to the table.


What are some of the new challenges CIOs and IT have to face?
Cyber security is presenting both a unique challenge and opportunity for IT. While it isn’t the only problem CIOs are facing, it’s certainly one of the most pressing, given there seems to be a new story in the news every other week about a major security breach or data leak.
More and more data is being developed, which in turn needs to be governed. The challenge is balancing the data needs and access across the organization, while meeting increasingly stricter data security compliance regulations.
Because of the complexity and ever-evolving regulatory landscape, the dialogue around cyber security has gone from a tactical one to a strategic one – wherein lies the opportunity for IT. CIOs and IT are well positioned to lead the discussion around security by delivering a strategic approach; leveraging the latest data management and security technologies to balance the needs of all parties and regulators.
What innovative solutions are CIOs bringing to the table?
Obviously, big data, flash, mobile and cloud are all playing major roles in the digital revolution happening within the industry. In fact, research from analyst firm IDC found that cloud spending now accounts for a third of all IT infrastructure spending, growing by 26.4 percent to reach $33.4 billion.  But as important as these technologies are, they each have their own unique sets of challenges. Where I see the innovation coming to the forefront is at the integration layer.
Most organizations use a patchwork of solutions for a variety of vendors.  It is absolutely critical that all of the solutions work seamlessly together. Within those gaps is where IT can find value and improve efficiencies.
Imagine a multinational investment firm where its multitude of data management elements in the different clouds were integrated, cohesive and coherent, like a seamlessly woven fabric.  At NetApp, we call this architecture the data fabric, which allows organizations to control, integrate, move, and consistently manage their data across a hybrid architecture.
Given market volatility, financial services organizations need to be able to respond quickly.  Data fabric enables companies to take advantage of the economics and elasticity of the cloud while maintaining control of their data across a hybrid cloud environment.  Essentially, it allows organizations to create IT environments that responds to business conditions, while allowing for unbridled innovation across the entire system.
Can you give any examples where an organization has deployed such a solution?
Absolutely.  ING Direct, the world’s leading direct savings bank, is seen as an innovator in the financial services industry. The company is known for pushing the boundaries, offering unique saving solutions for customers around the world.


Despite this, the company struggled to bring new ideas and offerings through to fruition.  This was due to a large project backlog and outdated test system. The development and test infrastructure simply could not meet the bank’s appetite for innovation.



ING Direct Australia came to NetApp, Cisco and Microsoft looking to improve developer productivity and speed up time to market.   Basically, the ING Direct team wanted to provide a copy of the bank to anyone, at anytime, for any purpose at the lowest cost to test new offerings across the bank’s systems, applications and configurations and 5.5 terabytes of data.
The end result was ING’s Bank in a Box, a fully integrated solution that would enable rapid provisioning of complete environments, accelerating time to market for new ideas.
By approaching the challenge strategically, ING Direct’s IT team was able to drastically improve time to market for new ideas by creating an efficient platform for easier innovation.  What would take a team of eight three months, could be accomplished now in minutes – improving the company’s overall efficiency and delivering value to its bottom-line.
Data Fabric is NetApp’s vision for the future of data management. It gives you the freedom to seamlessly manage your data across the hybrid cloud. You can move data where you need it most, innovate faster, and always make the best decisions for you and your organization.


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NetApp Staff