IBM Delivers on Cloud Promise for Financial Services

IBM today announced that an IBM Cloud for Financial Services, built on the Red Hat OpenShift platform in collaboration with Bank of America, is now generally available.

Hillery Hunter, vice president and CTO for IBM Cloud, says this offering is the latest in what will become a series of cloud offerings aimed at vertical industries that operate in highly regulated environments. At the core of those offerings is a stack of microservices that all run on top of the instance of Kubernetes provided via the Red Hat OpenShift platform.

That approach will make it easier for organizations operating in highly regulated industries to become more agile using a stack of software that has already been vetted to address challenging security and compliance requirements, Hunter says. The platform defines more than 200 cloud-native services that can each be consumed via application programming interfaces (APIs).

Other core components include support for confidential computing capabilities that encrypt data while it is being processed and IBM Hyper Protect Services that enable IT teams to retain control over encryption keys for cloud services.

The platform’s security and compliance controls are defined by an IBM Cloud Framework for Financial Services that was developed with Bank of America and Promontory, a financial services regulatory compliance consulting firm. That framework is being maintained by the IBM Financial Services Cloud Council.

IBM and Bank of America first started building IBM Cloud for Financial Services platform in 2019. Since then, other financial services firms have contributed to the project, including BNP Paribas, Luminor Bank and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG), Inc. In addition, more than 90 software vendors have pledged to support IBM Cloud for Financial Services, including, as of today, SAP.

Hunter says that, rather than maintain their own stacks of software, organizations in regulatory industries will be relying more on frameworks developed in collaboration with IBM to achieve the level of agility required today to attract modern application developers. Organizations that are unable to make infrastructure resources readily available to those developers will find themselves increasingly falling behind rivals, Hunter notes.

IBM also envisions IBM Cloud for Financial Services will play a critical role in enabling organizations to embrace hybrid cloud computing. A complementary IBM Cloud Satellite service makes it possible to deploy workloads either on an edge computing platform or on another cloud platform in a way that can still be centrally managed, says Hunter.

It’s unclear to what degree platforms such as IBM Cloud for Financial Services will accelerate adoption of cloud-native applications. Vertical industries, in particular, tend to be very conservative when it comes to adopting emerging technology platforms. However, Hunter notes, financial services firms all face increased competition from smaller, more nimble financial technology (fintech) rivals. In the absence of adopting emerging technologies faster, many of the old guard financial institutions may find it hard to survive – much less thrive – in a new, cloud-native computing era.

Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard is a seasoned IT journalist with over 25 years of experience. He also contributed to IT Business Edge, Channel Insider, Baseline and a variety of other IT titles. Previously, Vizard was the editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise as well as Editor-in-Chief for CRN and InfoWorld.

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