We live in a digital society where we expect to be able to hop on our smartphone in the middle of the night and efficiently check the balance of our bank account. In fact, we feel so entitled to this 24/7 level of service and network accessibility that any breach of our expectations—even just for a few seconds—will be immediately greeted by dissatisfaction. Welcome to the heavy expectations put on IT professionals working in financial services. Performance and uptime aren’t the only worries for these companies though. These IT pros must also cope with the reality that their industry represents the most desirable hacking trophies on the planet. In other words, network security and performance level must be perpetually prioritized above all else.
The financial services industry is also accompanied by some other unique challenges:
Business Built on Trust – In financial services, it’s nearly impossible to differentiate the products and services your company offers relative to competitors. Instead, these businesses are built on trust and dependability. Customers are choosing to trust your organization with their hard-earned money, and any security breach or misstep in service level can mean promptly losing a customer to a fully capable alternative.
The Downtime Double-Whammy – Obviously, downtime renders a negative experience for organizations and users in real-time. However, in a financial services setting with very stringent SLAs, a worst-case scenario can also involve customers bringing litigation for harmful or financially debilitating outages.
Extreme Network Heterogeneity – Financial services organizations are often tasked with managing wildly disparate networks. For example, think of a standard bank—managing various branches, datacenters, ATM locations, and probably some sort of remote workforce as well. Add on the fact that mergers and acquisitions (M&A) happen all the time in this industry, and you are looking at some nightmarish network complexity.
Downtime is EXPENSIVE – The banking/finance industry leads the way in downtime expense among all verticals, and ITIC says outage costs can reach up to $5 million per hour for the largest corporations operating in this space.
How to Deliver on Financial Services Industry Expectations
Despite dealing with planet-leading performance and network security pressures, it’s possible to put yourself in the driver seat as a financial services IT pro. You just need to have the right solutions in your toolkit.
Secure Network Unification
Sprawling and disparate networks can be a huge barrier to innovation for IT teams, and it can easily become an all-consuming black hole of management headaches. However, software-defined perimeter (SDP) technology holds the keys to simplifying this mess. Unifying complex networks can be as easy as completing a lightweight software install on each node you want to connect, and then managing the entire network from one centralized management pane. The best software-defined technologies integrate network high availability as well—an imperative capability for financial services.
Along with consolidating any type of infrastructure, software-defined perimeter technology enables the highest level of network security. Financial services organizations can’t afford the vulnerabilities that accompany traditional security solutions like virtual private networks (VPNs). Every VPN connection at your organization is an attack vector that can lead to a network-wide breach. Software-defined perimeter utilizes Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) tunnels/connections, but also regulates network access at the application level—a much more secure approach that eliminates lateral network attack surfaces.
Push Total Downtime to Zero
Based on the ITIC statistic above ($5 million/hour outage cost), companies can be losing over $1,300 per second in a worst-case scenario. That’s why any solution that can reduce overall downtime by any amount is worth being pursued.
Reducing network and management complexity has an inherent positive impact on downtime. Smart High Availability (HA) software enables additional functionality and automation to push total downtime even closer to zero. To start, Smart HA can unify a high availability framework in the same way that SDP unifies a network. You can manage all your platforms, OSes, versions, and disparate infrastructure (for applications like SQL Server) from one consolidated management pane.
Smart High Availability technology can also help mitigate planned downtime for organizations—enabling such easy patch/update procedures that these processes can be carried out during the regular workday.
Overall, given the scale at which downtime can affect financial services organizations, any solution that pushes downtime closer to zero should be actively pursued. Proactive reconfiguration of your IT budget is much less painful than reacting to the financial and customer service consequences of an unplanned outage. Taking this proactive action can of course be a hard sell for upper management at your organization. So, when proposing a new solution, we recommend first:
- Collecting as much relevant quantitative research on the impacts of downtime on your organization as possible
- Ascertaining clear evidence—typically gathered during POC—that a new technology would in fact push total downtime closer to zero than existing method(s)
- Ensuring a comprehensive understanding of proposed tech from both a downtime prevention and network security standpoint
The DH2i Difference
DH2i’s DxEnterprise (DxE) Smart High Availability Clustering software is deployed by financial services corporations around the world. Apart from powerful, industry-leading capabilities that help reduce total downtime, some other unique differentiators of DxE include:
- Zero downtime modernization by patching onto inactive nodes
- Database-level HA for SQL Server AGs in Kubernetes
- Mixed SQL Server clusters (mix and match versions, platforms, and infrastructure)
- Integrated ZTNA tunnels with maximum throughput performance
Get signed up for a customized demo if you want to learn more.