By Konrad Litwin, Managing Director International, Perforce Software
With digital data and other content at the heart of how most financial services operate today, these ‘soft’ assets have become an increasingly important and critical part a firm’s intellectual property (IP) assets. At the same time, visibility and control of those digital assets has become more difficult, thanks to a progressively more complex operating environment.
Today’s financial products not only have more elements, they need to be updated more frequently, yet banks and other financial institutions need to keep legacy products ‘live’ for long periods of time to satisfy not just existing customers, but regulatory authorities too. The ability to have access to all past versions of code and other digital assets is essential for auditing purposes.
Financial products also have to be made available across multiple delivery methods, including mobile devices and different software operating systems, plus the need to satisfy the increasing cry for smoother, real-time exchange of data between different banks and bourses.
The situation is further exacerbated by the frequently siloed environments in which these largely software-based financial products are created, distributed and maintained. This is particularly true of software development teams, who – in common with many other industries – traditionally work in isolation, with their own processes and tools, giving the rest of the business little visibility of work-in-progress.
All this matters for one very big reason close to the heart of the world’s financial services industry: risk. If how these digital assets are being developed and brought to market is not transparent, then who’s to know what problems might have crept in? With regulators demanding to see the inner workings of every aspect of a bank’s activities, right down to every single piece of code, then that is a pretty big risk to take in terms of security and compliance.
Trace metrics for quality and audibility
So what’s the answer? First, financial institutions need processes and technology tools that can easily and quickly show what changed, why it changed and who made that change. That has to be applied across the entire lifecycle of the digital assets associated with a particular financial product and provide that immutable history in both real-time and historic views.
If the full history of software development processes is not easily accessible, then days, if not weeks or months, might be spent by teams trying to unearth and create that information (time that would be better spent on other tasks). And finally, there is not visibility around who can access what (and whether they did or not), then there is always the spectre of a security breach, caused by a valuable piece of digital IP being inadvertently or deliberately compromised.
Transparent traceability makes it easier to see how two different digital ‘artefacts’ relate to each other or are inter-dependent. Also, essential software processes such as QA, testing and real-time code reviews are better supported, while it also becomes easier to automate processes and engender improved collaboration between different contributors.
A single source of truth
Mitigation of these risks is why an increasing number of organisations in the financial services market are investing in ‘single source of truth’ strategies and systems. There are different ways of tackling this goal, but a common thread is the desire to create a collaborative and transparent environment that is a single place for all the digital assets associated with a product at every stage of its lifecycle.
Another attribute to which pioneers of this approach aspire is an environment that allows individual teams to carry on working with their existing tools, systems, workflows and processes, yet still have that ‘common ground’ in which to see what each other is doing (who did what, when and how) share and collaborate.
The concept of the ‘single source of truth’ is already well established in software development circles, where version control systems have long been championed by software developers and IT admins for this very purpose. However, organisations are increasingly realising that they need to extend the ‘single source of truth’ to encompass every aspect of a project, from ideation, design, development, test, deployment, release and maintenance.
In the software world, it may be coined application lifecycle management (ALM) but that is probably too limiting a terminology in this day and age, because the breadth and variety of assets is so wide-ranging.
When successful, this approach can reap some powerful and tangible benefits: better connection across teams to keep a project’s vision on track and out to market more quickly, easier extraction of data to satisfy auditors, easier bug-tracking and fixing, plus reduced security risks. However, success depends on augmenting the theory with some very practical ‘best practice’ steps. Here are a few examples.
Version everything – store every digital asset at every step, so that every change is recorded. Think beyond code and incorporate every asset associated with a project. Make sure that the version control system supporting this approach can support a wide variety of file types and also creates an immutable source (in other words, changes cannot be made at a later date) to meet regulatory requirements.
Balance control over flexibility – the best tools are those that allow users to carry on working with their own workflows, processes and favourite tools, rather than imposing new ways of working or technologies. It’s human nature that people will always find a workaround if they don’t like a piece of software. For instance, Git is in widespread use by software development teams worldwide, so look for tools that will allow them to carry on using Git, but in a framework that gives management the visibility needed over code changes.
Similarly, make sure that the ‘single source of truth’ ‘plays nice’ with other systems already in place and can scale to support large projects or growing numbers of users, regardless of their location or operating environment.
Keep it simple – don’t inhibit the non-technical users who need access to this single source of truth. Make sure that the version control system is intuitive enough for them to use. These individuals might include product or marketing managers, creative teams, even senior management and external third parties, such as auditors and regulators.
Control access – security involves a multi-layered strategy of attack, but within the context of the ‘single source of truth’, do think about what access people are given. In so many instances, access is carte blanche, with users having unnecessary levels of access. This is not fair on them or the organisation. Instead, implement ‘fine grained’ access control, whereby users are given access to what they need, but no more.
Protect digitally-based intellectual property (IP) across IP address, user and group, with enforceability at code repository, branch, directory or individual file level, locally or across authorised locations. This will also contribute to compliance and regulatory processes.
Educate – this may sound obvious, but users do need to understand why this level of visibility and control is so important and top-level management endorsement is important. In addition, any financial services organisation implementing Agile, Continuous Delivery or DevOps in their software or digital projects will appreciate the benefits that the ‘single source of truth’ brings, in terms of underpinning the transparency and collaboration on which these methodologies depend.
There is no overnight silver bullet to achieving all this and the reality is that most organizations are going to have to put in a lot of work into making the ‘single source of truth’ a success. However, choosing the right support tools and approaches will go a long way towards achieving that goal and in today’s increasingly competitive, time-pressured and regulated financial services market, with such a high dependency on digital assets, this level of traceability and management over the entire product lifecycle is fundamental.
Holding Cloud To Account, How Cloud Adds Up In Financial Services
By Dom Poloniecki, General Manager, Western Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa at Nutanix
Cloud computing and the deployment of increasingly cloud-native technologies is happening across every industry vertical. Even in industries where a degree of previous inertia existed such as legal and finance, the drive to cloud flexibility and scalability has become a primary driver for the technology fabric that firms in these markets run on.
As traditionalist operations in the legal trade start to undergo increasing levels of digital transformation, the weighty behemoth systems running financial institutions are also now being carefully and strategically replaced by more efficient, more flexible and more cost effective cloud installations. Now a proud owner of its sub-sector label and hashtag, FinTech is the new financial IT… and FinTech was born on the cloud.
As part of the Third Annual Enterprise Cloud Index report by Nutanix, a specific analysis of the 3,400 IT decision-makers questioned is now dedicated to examining how financial services organisations are using cloud technologies. Looking at the key data points related to Financial Services, we can start to understand the implementation, workload separation and (in most cases still, as of 2020) the migration issues that these firms are experiencing.
In the world of Financial Services cloud computing, the importance of an integrated and intelligently managed hybrid framework can not be overstated. Financial operations can of course draw upon the resource backbone of public cloud for their foundational operational technology requirements. However, they often still need to run a carefully deployed private cloud footprint commensurate with the privacy and security needs of any organisation operating in the financial sector.
The central importance of hybrid
Hybrid cloud and the use of Hyperconverged Infrastructure (HCI) is therefore a key cornerstone for Financial Services hybrid cloud development. This is the route to a cohesively managed hybrid cloud environment, where workloads are optimised according to the security, performance and compliance needs arising from the use case of the data and applications at hand.
The Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Index findings back this reality up and show that the majority (86%) of financial services respondents identify hybrid private/public cloud as the ideal IT operating model for their organisation. So much momentum is there now in this space that financial services companies are running more applications in private clouds than most other industries polled. Their reported usage of private cloud (39%) outpaces all other industries except for IT, tech and telecoms (40%).
As a further validating and driving factor here, HCI is the lower substrate technology behind the big public cloud offerings from Amazon, Google and Microsoft. So HCI and the wider hybrid approach is no longer perceived as ‘just’ a route to cost savings, which perhaps it was as recently as half a decade ago; it now represents an important enabling and facilitating technology to reduce complexity and increase scalability. In the hybrid cloud world where cost is no longer the main driver for cloud implementation, we can say that we have moved on to a point where we identify the ability to ‘achieve business outcomes’ as the primary driver.
HCI for modernised financial challengers
Given the growth of so-called ‘challenger banks’ shaking up financial services with new online services, extended customer loyalty offers driven through dedicated mobile banking applications and other fast-moving business models, traditional financial institutions have realised that they need to become altogether more agile.
Adopting hybrid cloud in Financial Services allows even older and more established firms to build scalable and easily managed private clouds as part of a hybrid cloud model. This scalability can be engineered for rapid growth when and where it happens, but it is also scalability that enables financial organisations to rein in compute resources serving banking products that have proved to be end-of-life and ultimately laid dormant or retired.
It’s important to remember that, as powerful as it is, cloud can still be a complex consideration, especially when aggressively deployed in an essentially hybrid mix of public and private cloud instances. The Enterprise Cloud Index found that for every aggressive hybrid design being deployed, there is an equally aggressive drive to deploy Hyperconverged Infrastructure (HCI).
This is because HCI helps accelerate cloud adoption by sharply reducing the time it takes to build the software-defined infrastructure necessary to support private cloud. It also supports the rapid capacity expansion that enables the scalability benefits of cloud technology. Nearly 50% of the financial sector respondents said they’ve either fully deployed HCI or are in the process of doing so. Another 38% said they will be deploying HCI within the next 12 to 24 months.
It is difficult not to mention the impact and legacy of 2020 and the global pandemic on the financial services technology market space. More than three quarters (78%) of financial services respondents said Covid-19 has caused IT to be viewed more strategically in their organisations. In addition, 50% of financial services respondents said they increased their investment in hybrid cloud as a direct result of the pandemic.
Choice: from the bank teller to the backbone
The key point we keep coming back to here is choice. As financial institutions will be working to offer corporate and individual customers the widest choice of products and services, so too will they need to gain choice of operational compute fabric in the shape of the cloud deployments that they do actually make. More specifically, it’s about these Financial Services businesses having the flexibility to concentrate on the delivery of strategic business outcomes quickly, easily and – crucially – without the need to keep within the limitations of a particular supporting IT model.
As previous Nutanix surveys have shown, companies consistently express a desire for the ability to run workloads in the infrastructure best suited to them, based on a variety of criteria. Be that wanting to enhance security; rapidly on-board new apps during takeovers and acquisitions; reach new markets with different compliance needs and so on.
Over the next five years, financial services organisations expect a significant drop of 13 percentage points in their use of non-cloud-enabled datacentre technology, taking them down to less than 1% penetration. As in almost all aspects of life, some products, tools and processes that we took as standard parts of the way the world works are eventually superseded.
Nobody uses a ‘flatbed slider’ paper-slip credit card reader anymore to take a payment – and nobody will use non-cloud financial services IT functions in the very near future. There may be a few archaic legacy hangers-on, but they’ll be nothing more than the exception that proves the rule. Hybrid cloud for our Financial Services’ future? That’ll do nicely.
First of a kind Virtual Coffee Machine app with social meeting moments to support workforce wellbeing in a remote workplace
Powell Software’s first in a series of wellbeing technology innovations help remote employees socially connect with colleagues and keep the workplace culture alive
As the third UK lockdown continues and many countries worldwide face severe restrictions, Powell Software, a global organisation creating digital solutions and tools for the digital workplace, has launched the first of its kind Virtual Coffee Machine, an application within Microsoft Teams to ensure employees stay better connected, positively engaged and take regular breaks while working from home.
With employee wellbeing at the top of the global workforce agenda for 2021, Powell’s Virtual Coffee Machine app positively connects employees through virtual chats to maintain a culture of togetherness, even when apart.
Replacing the absence of the in-person coffee catch up, HR can swiftly set up a Virtual Coffee Machine break within any Teams channel, encouraging employees to take regular short breaks while inspiring networking and socialising between colleagues.
Matthieu Silbermann, Chief Product Officer at Powell Software said: “The effects of the Pandemic have reshaped the Digital Workplace and research has found that three quarters of employers intend to shift some employees to remote work permanently. However, with one in five remote employees naming loneliness as their top complaint regarding work from home, reinforcing togetherness needs to be a top priority.”
Take a virtual coffee
HR can set up a Virtual Coffee Machine meeting within any Teams channel defining time, frequency and date, and number of people. The app then uses an algorithm that collects data from employees registered in Powell Teams, automatically comparing outlook calendars and generating meeting invites based on the criteria of the meeting. For example, if the Virtual Coffee Machine meeting criteria was set at a maximum of five people and ten people are available to join then two meeting invitations would be sent.
Virtual Coffee Machine consciously avoids one to one or full team meetings, focusing on creating intimate, short social breaks where employees can take time out to engage with colleagues in a positive digital space. Colleagues can also ‘travel’ to differently located virtual offices across their organisation to meet colleagues for a coffee break in different virtual buildings.
Employees are unaware of who else will join the group until the event, to encourage different team members to meet, chat and get to know each other. The app automatically books an agenda and also suggests ice breakers like ‘what was the last film you saw or book’?
If a team member does not want to or cannot join a Virtual Coffee Meeting, they simply decline the meeting invitation.
Silbermann continues: “Powell Software is passionate about connecting employees to their organisation and to each other, ensuring that they have a positive and stimulating experience at work, every day. Remote workers need to be connected, they need to feel part of the company, the culture and feel able to socialise in the hybrid or remote workplace.
“Powell’s new Virtual Coffee Machine app is all about the employee. We all miss the little social moments at the office, whether they be at the coffee machine or the cold water fountain. Coffee Machine allows us to progressively see our workplaces positively come to life again in a virtual way, promoting connectivity, collaboration and employee wellbeing. It’s part of a bigger goal and series of initiatives to bring the virtual building to life.”
Top 5 Ways To Lose Your Video Files
There are lots of reasons why you can lose video files in your system or device. While some of these problems are avoidable, others are inevitable. Simply put, it is only a matter of time before the latter problems will be experienced. The major challenge is that most people don’t understand why their video files are either missing, damaged or deleted.
Are you amongst those mentioned above? Do you always ask why a video file can get lost, deleted or damaged? Don’t waste time to rack your brain on a such topic/matter. This is because you have come to the right place. This well-researched blog will provide you all the top reasons why you are losing your video files. Before thinking about which video recovery software to start using, it is recommended you know why files are getting lost in your system.
This is a common problem that is responsible for loss of data. However, most people are yet to discover it. Have you ever noticed any situation whereby there is sudden power outage in your system? Simply put, your system suddenly shuts down. In such case, applications and other files (photos, videos, audios and doc) will be closed without any prior warning. The implication of this is that your video files are likely to get damaged.
You may want to argue that systems come with batteries. Therefore, there will not be a problem of power shut down. This is not true in any way as power shut down can happen due to some reasons. It could even be that your system is malfunctioning. Even when your video files are not damaged through such incident, there is every chance that your hard drive will be adversely affected.
Faulty hard drive
If your hard drive is damaged due to one reason or another, there is every chance that your video files will be lost, damaged or deleted. Most of the cases related to data losses can be traced to malfunctioning hard drive. In case you don’t know, hard drives are very fragile. They can easily become faulty because of poor handling. If your hard drive crashes, it is recommended you find out what must have led to such problem. Trying to use a data recovery tool without knowing the root cause of the problem won’t do any good.
There are numerous factors responsible for a faulty hard drive. These could be hot system, frequent crashing, constant freezing, slow processing speed, booting up issues. The longer you ignore these problems; that is how your hard drive will be further damaged. This will in turn lead to loss of video files.
The truth is that as humans, we are always bound to make mistakes. These could sometimes prove very costly since they can bring about loss of video files. There are cases when important business files have been deleted mistakenly in the past. Human errors are very common. They can bring about formatting of hard drive, data loss and repair of system.
The only way to avoid this problem is to ensure you understand files to be deleted or retained. Most people don’t read messages displayed in dialogue boxes before clicking on “Delete” buttons. This is an easy way to delete important video files without knowing.
Computer virus is one of the major reasons why people lose video files. Just as the digital world is becoming increasingly popular, viruses and malware are also waxing stronger. One of the most notable causes is when you begin to explore unsecured websites. It can also happen when corrupt files are downloaded and installed in your system.
When your system has been compromised by viruses and malware, there is a very high chance of losing vital files like doc, videos, audios and photos. You will try to open these files but they won’t respond. The best way to overcome this problem is using anti-virus software. This will help to monitor your browsing habit online.
Hard drive formatting
This happens to be another major cause of data loss. Most people format their hard drive without backing up vital files. In the end, these files are lost. Without the help of a paid or free recovery software, you may struggle to get back such data.
It is recommended that you backup important video files before initiating such a process. There are lots of ways to do this. For instance, you can use an external hard drive or even store such files online. This will save you the stress of spending unnecessarily on a data recovery software.
When it comes to losing your video files, there are lots of reasons which could be responsible for such problem. The tips shared above can help you to a great extent. All you have to do is ensure they are avoided.
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