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Gundars Kaupins: How to master cloud computing in banking

Cloud computing and its providers such as Google, Dropbox, Microsoft and Rackspace allow Internet users to remotely store and share considerable information. For the banking industry, cloud computing can serve customers faster. Banks can respond quickly to changing customer needs, make buyer-seller payments more convenient and cut costs by not requiring huge investments in software and hardware.

Cloud computing is hot in the banking industry. According to Bank Technology News, most bank executives plan to spend more money in cloud computing. The bulk of that investment is in apps and data in the private cloud, where banks can have more control over security. But public cloud companies are advertising reliable and secure services.

Clouds may be in the sky, but downpours are possible. If data are stored in a variety of powerful computers scattered throughout the world, data protection is a must. Large differences in security laws, systems and interfaces can compromise customer and transaction data.

How can a bank reduce worries from the cloud? One suggestion is to establish service provider agreements for specific banking activities, such as accounting, operations and human resource management. Anti-malware and data loss prevention programs can be part of these agreements.

The greatest need is to develop a complete system for setting up, using and evaluating cloud computing services.

The first step for a bank is to examine why it would use a cloud, given its mission, vision, values and long-term objectives. If cloud computing makes sense, a next step is to develop an IT and security strategy for cloud transactions.

Human resource concerns occur throughout the process. Banks need to hire appropriate IT and security personnel who can monitor possible problems with cloud computing. Technology folks need strong communication skills with customers and bank managers — quick and accurate communication with a ton of active listening skills.

Banks need to set an organizational structure that has basic roles and reporting requirements but is flexible enough to adapt to security crises that may occur with the cloud.

Evaluate performance in two areas: cloud service response rates, security and accuracy; and technology personnel communication and problem-solving skills.

Cloud computing requires significant education. The banking industry has certifications such as Certified Financial Services Security Professionals, Certified Information Security Manager, Global Information Assurance Certification and certifications with Cisco and Microsoft.

A ridiculously insignificant, stupid, annoying, microscopic detail: Top management needs to be committed not only to the cloud but also to the security and reliability required to use it. If they’re not in, it’s not going to happen.

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