Cloud application migrations: Why the “factory” approach fails in financial services

At Citihub Consulting, we’ve spent a large part of our 18+ year existence pulling apart some of the most complex systems in the financial services industry, in particular through use of our Application Availability Assessment (AAA) methodology. We are using this experience to advise our clients on application adoption of public and private cloud.

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The prevailing approach coming into financial services from other industries that have adopted cloud more widely is to align applications to pre-determined migration patterns, with a heavy reliance on tools to provide answers and an offshore “factory” to perform the migrations. At Citihub we’ve always advised our clients that, whilst this pattern-based, light-touch approach has certain merits, trying to force migrations into a set of fixed migration patterns in a typical financial services environment will limit success and create the potential for increased risk in the environment both during and after the migration program.

Undocumented configuration drift, complex (often unknown) dependencies and developer-churn over many years requires experienced practitioners to ‘unpeel the onion’ and work with application teams to develop unique migration plans for each of these complex systems, sub-systems and data and schedule across the portfolio appropriately. Unfortunately, for most of our clients this complexity describes a large cross-section of the application portfolio, running into thousands of applications. Reaching the end game isn’t going to be as easy as throwing an army of inexperienced staff to brute-force migrations against a pre-determined set of answers. Instead, application teams need to be made accountable for their own migrations – how this can be done is a topic for another blog, however it does require a firm-wide understanding & buy-in of the drivers for migration.

Our recently published White Paper – “Migrating Applications to Hybrid Cloud Computing” – elaborates on our advised approach toward cloud migrations in financial services, which we encourage you to download and read through. We’ve also evolved our AAA methodology to cover cloud, which clients have been using as a ‘permit to operate’ sanity-check for select, complex system migrations.

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The author

Ian Tivey

Ian Tivey

Associate Partner, New York

Ian has a broad background across DevOps and Infrastructure disciplines in the design, build and operation of globally-distributed market data distribution and trading platforms. He currently leads Citihub Consulting’s Cloud Practice, having worked with clients in Europe, Asia, and North America to design and build hybrid cloud solutions in highly regulated banking environments.