Cloud computing

The consumer market has already seen a huge impact from cloud computing with web applications such as Facebook and photo sharing apps like flickr.com. Amazon.com, the online retailer started out selling books but now also sells access to its vast computing infrastructure as a service allowing anyone to pay as they go.

The B2B marketplace has also seen major success stories with cloud computing with companies like salesforce.com being the first pure play enterprise cloud computing company to have revenues of over $2b. The cloud computing message is now everywhere but how can Asset Managers benefit from this?

Asset Managers can benefit from cloud computing, the same as many other businesses, by analysing which applications they can push to the cloud. There are many departmental applications sitting on servers and internal networks that are independent of each other and fit a perfect model for cloud computing. Traditionally applications are installed on laptops and servers and are constrained by the software. Only the people who have that software installed can benefit from the application, whereas with cloud computing, the application exists on the Internet and can be accessed by anyone in the organisation. This opens up the benefits of the application to the entire business.

Asset Managers are in the client service business and cloud computing allows you to easily extend useful applications such as performance measurement and reporting out to clients and customers. Instead of having to install software at client sites or extend private networks between locations, applications can be extended by simply sharing a web address. This is a very powerful way of getting closer to your client and gaining an advantage over the competition.

There are also the additional benefits of utility computing, where you can pay as you go and not get forced into large Capex projects. Cloud computing gives you the freedom to use applications very quickly and pay for them as operational costs that can be completely tied to a business function giving much better visibility on true costs. Very CFO friendly!

Data security is always a concern with cloud computing because it often means application data is held outside the business’ premises. However, a well-kept secret is that with traditional software, application data is frequently moving between the vendor and the application user. Vendors often need data cuts to support issues and reproduce bugs and this means sensitive data is being transferred between two remote sites, often using insecure methods.

Cloud computing application data is held in a single, multi-tenant database, in one location. This means the application data is much less mobile and is therefore better protected. The vendor has secure access to the application data to fix problems, when granted by the owner and issues are fixed quickly because data does not have to be transferred back and forth from the user to the vendor.

When assessing cloud-based providers, make sure they understand information security and their responsibilities. Look for externally audited information security standards such as ISO2701 and SSAE16. This demonstrates the vendor’s real commitment to information security and that they have been externally audited at least once a year. Make sure the data is kept securely: this doesn’t just mean the encryption of connection between the user and the cloud-based application; it means how the data is stored in the system database. Look for multiple levels of encryption within the database to make sure it is only accessed by authorized individuals and privileges cannot be escalated. With the right approach and commitment to information security, cloud-based applications can be much more secure than their ‘land’ based counterparts.

StatPro has been externally audited and certified to both ISO27001 and SSAE16 information security standards and we have been developing our cloud technology since early 2008. StatPro Revolution is our pure cloud-based portfolio analysis and reporting platform for the global asset management industry. Visit www.statpro.com/revolution to find out more.

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