Cloud Transformation

“Worldwide end-user spending on public cloud services is forecast to grow 18.4% in 2021 to total $304.9 billion, up from $257.5 billion in 2020.” Gartner

Though indispensable for millennial businesses, cloud and SaaS applications have increased the complexity of user lifecycle management manifold times. User provisioning and de-provisioning, tracking user ids and logins have emerged as the new pain points for IT as organizations innovate and migrate to the cloud. In the changing business landscape,  automatic provisioning has emerged as a viable option for identity and user management.        

Resolving identity and access concerns

Identity and access management (IAM) is a way for organizations to define user’s rights to access and use organization-wide resources. There have been several developments in the last couple of decades for resolving identity and access concerns (in the cloud). 

The Security Assertions Markup Language (SAML) protocol enables the IT admin to set up a single sign-on (SSO) for resources like email, JIRA, CRM, (AD), so that when a user logs in once they can use the same set of credentials for logging in to other services. However, app provisioning or the process of automatically creating user identities and roles in the cloud remained a concern. Even today, many IT teams register users manually. But it is a time-consuming and expensive process. Highly Undesirable, when the actual need is for higher speed. Just-in-Time (JIT) methodology and System for Cross-domain Identity Management (SCIM) protocol ushers in a new paradigm for identity management. It regulates the way organizations generate and delete identities. Here, in this blog, we will highlight how JIT and SCIM have redefined identity and access management (IAM). We will also focus on cloud directory service and how it reimagines the future of IAM.     

  1. Just-in-Time (JIT) provisioning

There are many methodologies for managing user lifecycles in web apps; one of them is JIT or Just-in-Time. In simple terms, Just-in-Time (JIT) provisioning enables organizations to provide access to users (elevate user access) so that only they/it can enter the system and access resources and perform specific tasks. The user, in this case, can be human or non-human, and policies are governing the kind of access they are entitled to. 

How it works    

JIT provisioning automates the creation of user accounts for cloud applications. It is a methodology that extends the SAML protocol to transfer user attributes (new employees joining an organization) from a central identity provider to applications (for example, Salesforce or JIRA). Rather than creating a new user within the application, approving their app access, an IT admin can create new users and authorize their app access from the central directory. When a user logs into an app for the first time, those accounts are automatically created in the federated application. This level of automation was not possible before JIT, and each account had to be manually created by an IT administrator or manager. 

  1. System for Cross-domain Identity Management (SCIM) 

SCIM is the standard protocol for cross-domain identity management. As IT today is expected to perform like a magician -juggling several balls in the air and ensuring that none falls, SCIM has become exceedingly important as it simplifies IAM. 

SCIM defines the protocol and the scheme for IAM. The protocol defines how user data will be relayed across systems, while the scheme/identity profile defines the entity that could be human or non-human. An API-driven identity management protocol, SCIM standardizes identities between identity and service providers by using HTTP verbs.

Evolution of SCIM

The first version of SCIM was released in 2011 by a SCIM standard working group. As the new paradigm of identity and access management backed by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), and with contributions from Salesforce, Google, etc., SCIM transformed the way enterprises build and manage user accounts in web and business applications. SCIM specification allocates a “common user schema” that enables access/exit from apps.  

Why SCIM? 

Next level of automation: SCIM’s relevance in the user life cycle management of B2B SaaS applications is enormous.   

Frees IT from the shackles of tedious and repetitive work: Admins can build new users (in the central directory) with SCIM. Through ongoing sync, they can automate both onboarding and offboarding of users/employees from apps. SCIM frees the IT team from the burden of having to process repetitive user requests. It is possible to sync changes such as passwords and attribute data. 

Let us consider the scenario where an employee decides to leave the organization or is on contract, and their contract has expired. SCIM protocol ensures that the account’s deletion from the central directory accompanies the deletion of identities from the apps. This level of automation was not possible with JIT.  With SCIM, organizations achieve the next level of automation.

  1. Cloud Directory Services

Cloud directory service is another category of IAM solutions that has gained a fair amount of traction recently. Earlier, most organizations were on-prem, and Microsoft Active Directory fulfilled the IAM needs. In contrast, the IT environment has dramatically changed in the last decade. Users are more mobile now, security is a significant concern, and web applications are de facto. Therefore the shift from AD to directory-as-a-service is a natural progression in tune with the changing requirements. It is a viable choice for organizations. Platform agnostic, in the cloud, and diversified, and supporting a wide variety of protocols like SAML, it serves the purpose of modern organizations. These directories store information about devices, users, and groups. IT administrators can simplify their workload and use these for extending access to information and resources.

Platform-agnostic schema: As an HTTP-based protocol that handles identities in multi-domain scenarios, SCIM defines the future of IAM. Organizations are not required to replace the existing user management systems as SCIM acts as a standard interface on top. SCIM specifies a platform-agnostic schema and extension model for users and classes and other resource types in JSON format (defined in RFC 7643). 

Ideal for SaaS: Ideal for SaaS-based apps as it allows administrators to use authoritative identities, thereby streamlining the account management process.

Organizations using internal applications and external SaaS applications are keen to reduce onboarding/deboarding effort/costs. A cloud directory service helps simplify processes while allowing organizations to provision users to other tools such as applications, networks, and file servers. 

It is also a good idea for cloud directories service vendors like Okta, Jumpcloud, OneLogin, and Azure AD to opt for SCIM. They benefit from SCIM adoption, as it makes the management of identities in cloud-based applications more manageable than before. All they need to do is accept the protocol, and seamless integration of identities and resources/privileges/applications is facilitated. Providers can help organizations manage the user life cycle with supported SCIM applications or SCIM interfaced IDPs (Identity Provider).   

How JIT and SCIM differ

As explained earlier, SCIM is the next level of automation. SCIM provisioning automates provisioning, de-provisioning, and management, while JIT automates account development. Organizations need to deprovision users when they leave the organization or move to a different role. JIT does not provide that facility. While the user credentials stop working, the account is not deprovisioned. With SCIM, app access is automatically deleted.     

Though JIT is more common, and more organizations are going forward with JIT implementation, SCIM is in trend. Several cloud directory service providers realizing the tremendous potential of SCIM have accepted the protocol. SCIM, they recognize, is the future of IAM.   

Benefits of SCIM Provisioning

  1. Standardization of provisioning

Every type of client environment is handled and supported by the SCIM protocol. SCIM protocol supports Windows, AWS, G Suite, Office 365, web apps, Macs, and Linux. Whether on-premise or in the cloud, SCIM is ideal for organizations desiring seamless integration of applications and identities. 

  1. Centralization of identity

An enterprise can have a single source of truth, i.e., a common IDP (identity provider), and communicate with the organization’s application and vendor application over SCIM protocol and manage access.

  1. Automation of onboarding and offboarding 

Admins no longer need to create and delete user accounts in different applications manually. It saves time and reduces human errors. 

  1. Ease of compliance 

As there is less manual intervention, compliance standards are higher. Enterprises can control user access without depending upon SaaS providers. Employee onboarding or turnover can be a massive effort if conducted manually. Especially when employees onboard or offboard frequently, the corresponding risks of a data breach are high. Also, as an employee’s profile will change during their tenure, compliance can be a threat if access is not managed correctly. With SCIM, all scenarios described above can be transparently handled in one place.

  1. More comprehensive SSO management

SCIM complements existing SSO protocols like SAML. User authentication, authorization, and application launch from a single point are taken care of with SAML. Though JIT user provisioning with SAML helps provision, it does not take care of complete user life cycle management. SCIM and SAML combination SSO with user management across domains can be easily managed.

SCIM is hard to ignore

Modern enterprises cannot deny the importance of SCIM protocol. According to the latest Request for Comments – a publication from the Internet Society (ISOC) and associated bodies, like the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) – “SCIM intends to reduce the cost and complexity of user management operations by providing a common user schema, an extension model, and a service protocol defined by this document.” Not just in terms of simplifying IAM and enabling users to move in and out of the cloud without causing the IT admin needless worry, SCIM compliant apps can avail the pre-existing advantages like code and tools. 
At Magic FinServ, we realize that the most significant benefit SCIM brings to clients is that it enables them to own their data and identities. It helps IT prioritize their essential functions instead of getting lost in the mire tracking identities and user access. Magic FinServ is committed to ensuring that our clients keep pace with the latest developments in technology. Visit our cloud transformation section to know more.

85% of organizations include workload placement flexibility in their top five technology priorities – and a full 99% in their top 10.” 

The pandemic has been an eye-opener. While organizations gravitated towards the cloud before the pandemic, they are more likely to opt for the cloud now as they realize the enormous benefits of data storage and processing in an environment unencumbered by legacy systems. The cloud facilitates the kind of flexibility that was unanticipated earlier. Other reasons behind the cloud’s popularity are as follows:  

  • Consolidates data in one place: Organizations do not have to worry about managing data on-prem data centers anymore.
  • Self-service capability: This feature of the cloud enables organizations to monitor network storage, server uptime, etc., on their own.
  • Promotes agility: The monolithic model that companies were reliant on earlier was rigid. With the cloud, teams can collaborate from anywhere instead of on-prem.
  • Ensures data security: By modernizing infrastructure and adopting the best practices, organizations can protect their critical data from breaches.
  • Fosters innovation: One can test new ideas and see if it works. For example, the deployment team can conduct a quick POC and see if it meets the desired objectives.
  • Scalable: One can scale up and down as per the need of the hour. Operational agility ranks high in the list of CIO objectives.
  • High availability: Ensures anytime and anywhere access to tools, services, and data. In the event of a disaster, backup and recovery are easily enabled. Not so for on-prem data storage.
  • Affordable: Cloud services use the pay-per-use model. There is no upfront capital expenditure for hardware and software. Most organizations resort to the pay-as-you-go model and thereby ward off unnecessary expenditure.      

Migration strategies 

Ninety percent of organizations believe a dynamically adjustable cloud storage solution will have a moderate to high impact on their overall cloud success.”

While most organizations are aware that they must move their workloads to the cloud – given the marketplace’, they are not sure how to start. Every cloud migration is unique because each organization has its priorities, application design, timelines, cost, and resource estimates to consider while pursuing the cloud strategy. Hence, the need for a vendor that understands their requirements. After all, a digital native would pursue a cloud strategy completely differently from organizations that have complex structures and legacy systems to consider. Their constraints and priorities being different, the one-size-fits-all approach does not work, especially for financial services organizations. The key is to incorporate a migration strategy at a pace the organization is comfortable with instead of going full throttle. 

This article has identified the three most important cloud migration strategies and the instances where these should be used.  

  1. Lift & Shift
  2. Refactor 
  3. Re-platform

Lift & Shift – for quick ROI

The Lift & Shift (Rehosting) strategy of cloud migration re-hosts the workload, i.e., the application “as-it-is” from the current hosting environment to a new cloud environment. The rehosting method is commonly used by organizations when they desire speedy migration with minimal disruption. 

Following are the main features of the rehosting approach: 

  • Super quick turnaround: This strategy is useful when tight deadlines are to be met. For example, when the current on-prem or hosting provider’s infrastructure is close to decommissioning/end of the contract, or when the business cannot afford prolonged downtime. Here, the popular approach is to re-host in the cloud and pursue app refactoring later to improve performance.  
  • Risk mitigation: Risk mitigation is important. Organizations must ensure the budget and mitigation plan takes account of the inherent risks. It is probable that no issues surface during the migration, but after going live, run-time issues might surface. The risk mitigation in such instances could be as small as the ability to tweak or refactor as per need.
  • Tools of transformation: Lift & Shift can be performed with or without the help of migration tools. Picking an application as an image and exporting it to a container or VM, running on the public cloud using migration tools like VM Import or CloudEndure is an example of Lift & Shift, frequently employed by organizations. 

While choosing lift-and-shift, remember that quick turnaround comes at the cost of restricted use of features that make the cloud efficient. All cloud features cannot be utilized by simply re-hosting an application workload in the public cloud. 

Refactor – for future-readiness

Refactoring means modifying an existing application to leverage cloud capabilities. This migration strategy is suitable to refactor to cloud-native applications that utilize public cloud features like auto-scaling, serverless computing, containerization, etc.

We have provided here a few easy cloud feature adaptation examples where the refactoring approach is desirable:

  • Use “object storage services” of AWS S3, GCP, etc., to download and upload files.
  • Auto-scaling workload to add (or subtract) computational resources
  • Utilizing cloud-managed services like managed databases, for example, AWS Relational Database Services (RDS ) and Atlas Mongo. 

Distinguishing features of this kind of cloud migration, and what organizations should consider:

  • Risk mitigation: Examine the expense – capital invested. Appraise the costs of business interruptions due to rewrite. Refactoring software is complex as the development teams who developed code could be busy with other projects.  
  • Cost versus benefit: Weigh the advantages of the refactoring approach. Refactoring is best if benefits outweigh the costs and the migration is feasible for the organization considering the constraints defined earlier.
  • Refactor limited code: Due to these limitations, businesses usually re-factor only a limited portion of their portfolio of applications (about 10%).

Though the benefits of this approach – like disaster recovery and full cloud-native functionality – more than makes up for the expenses, businesses nonetheless must consider other dynamics. Another advantage of this approach is its compatibility with future requirements.              

Re-platform – meeting the middle ground.

To utilize the features of cloud infrastructure, re-platform migrations transfer assets to the cloud with a small amount of modification in the deployment of code. For example, using a managed DB offering or adding automation-powered auto-scaling. Though slower than rehosting, re-platforming provides a middle ground between rehosting and refactoring, enabling workloads to benefit from basic cloud functionality.

Following are the main features of the re-platform approach:

  • Leverage cloud with limited cost and effort: In case the feasibility study reveals that refactoring is possible, but the organization wants to leverage cloud benefits, re-platforming is the best approach.
  • Re-platform a portion of workload: Due to constraints, companies opt to re-platform 20-30 % workload that can be easily transformed and can utilize cloud-native features.
  • Team composition: In such projects, cloud architecting and DevOps teams play a major role without depending heavily on development team/code changes. 
  • Leverage cloud features: Cloud features that can be leveraged are: auto-scaling, managed services of the database, caching, containers, etc. 

For an organization dealing with limitations like time, effort, and cost while desiring benefits of the cloud, re-platforming is the ideal option. For example, for an e-commerce website employing a framework that is unsuitable for serverless architecture, re-platforming is a viable option.  

Choosing the right migration approach secures long-term gains.

What we have underlined here are some of the most popular cloud migration strategies adopted by businesses today. There are others (migration approaches) like repurchasing, retaining, and retiring. These function as their names imply. In the retain (or the hybrid model), organizations keep certain components of the IT infrastructure “as-it-is” for security or compliance purposes. When certain applications become redundant, they are retired or turned off in the cloud. Further, organizations can also choose to drop their proprietary applications and purchase a cloud platform or service. 

At Magic FinServ, we have a diverse team to deliver strategic cloud solutions. We begin with a thorough assessment of what is best for your business. 

Today, organizations have realized that they cannot work in silos anymore. That way of doing business became archaic long ago. As enterprises demand more significant levels of flexibility and preparedness, the cloud becomes irreplaceable. It allows teams to work in a  collaborative and agile environment while ensuring automatic backup and enhanced security. As experts in the field, Magic FinServ suggests that organizations approach the migration process with an application-centric perspective instead of an infrastructure-centric perspective to create an effective migration strategy. The migration plan must be resilient and support future key business goals. It must adhere to the agile methodology and allow continuous feedback and improvement. Magic Finserv’s cloud team assists clients in shaping their cloud migration journey without losing sight of end goals and ensuring business continuity. 

If your organization is considering a complete/partial shift to the cloud, feel free to write to mail@magicfinserv.com to arrange a conversation with our Cloud Experts. 

A couple of years ago, Uber – the ride-sharing app, revealed that it had exposed the personal data of millions of users. The data breach happened when an Uber developer left the AWS access key in the GitHub repository. (Scenarios such as these are common since in a rush to release code, developers unknowingly fail to protect secrets.) Hackers used this key to access files from Uber’s Amazon S3 Datastore.

As organizations embrace the remote working model, security concerns have increased exponentially. This is problematic for healthcare and financial sectors dealing with confidential data. Leaders from the security domain indicate that there would be dire consequences if organizations do not shed their apathy about data security. Vikram Kunchala, US lead for Deloitte cyber cloud practice, warns that the attack surface (for hackers) has become much wider (as organizations shift to cloud and remote working) and is not limited to the “four walls of the enterprise.” He insists that organizations must consider application security a top priority and look for ways to secure code –  as the most significant attack vector is the application layer. 

Hence a new paradigm with an ongoing focus on security – shifting left. 

Shifting left: Tools of Transformation. 

Our blog, DevSecOps: When DevOps’ Agile Meets Continuous Security, focused on the shifting left approach. The shift-left approach means integrating security early in the DevOps cycle instead of considering it as an afterthought. Though quick turnaround time and release of code are important, security is vital. It cannot be omitted.  Here, in this blog, we will discuss how to transform the DevOps pipeline into the DevSecOps pipeline and the benefits that enterprises can reap by making the transition.  

At the heart of every successful transformation of the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) are the tools. These tools run at different stages of the SDLC and add value at different stages. While SAST, Secret detection, and Dependency scanning run through the create and build stage, DAST is applicable in the build stage. 

To provide an example, we can use a pipeline with Jenkins as CI/CD tool. For security assessment, the possible open-source tools that we can consider include Clair, OpenVAS, etc.

Static Application Security Testing (SAST) 

SAST works on static code and does not require finished or running software (unlike DAST). SAST identifies vulnerability and possible threats by analyzing the source code. It enforces coding best practices and standards for security without executing the underlying code.

It is easy to integrate SAST tools into the developer’s integrated development environment (IDE), such as Eclipse. Some of the rules configured on the developer’s IDE – SQL injection, cross-site scripting (XSS), remote code injection, open redirect, OWASP Top 10, can help identify vulnerabilities and other issues in the SDLC. In addition to IDE-based plugins, you can activate the SAST tool at the time of code commit. This will allow collaboration as users review, comment, and iterate on the code changes.

We consider SonarQube, NodeJsScan, GitGuardian as the best SAST tools for financial technology. Among the three, SonarQube has an undisputed advantage. It is considered the best-automated code review tool in the market today. It has thousands of automated Static Code Analysis rules that help save time and enable efficiency. SonarQube also supports multiple languages, including a combination of modern and legacy languages. SonarQube analyzes the repository branches and informs the tester directly in “Pull Requests.”

Other popular tools for SAST are – Talisman and Findbug. These mitigate security threats by ensuring that potential secrets/sensitive information does not leave the developer’s workstation.

SAST tools must be trained or aligned (in the configuration) as per the use case. For optimized effectiveness, one must figure a few iterations beforehand to remove false positives, irrelevant checks, etc., and move forward with zero-high severity issues.

Secret Detection

GitGuardian has revealed that it detected more than two million “secrets” in public GitHub repositories last year. 85% of the secrets were in the developers’ repositories which fell outside corporate control. Jeremy Thomas, the GitGuardian CEO, worries about the implications of the findings. He says, “what’s surprising is that a worrying number of these secrets leaked on developers’ personal public repositories are corporate secrets, not personal secrets.” 

Undoubtedly, secrets or codes that developers leave in their remote repositories (sometimes) are a significant security concern. API keys, database credentials, security certificates, passwords, etc., are sensitive information, and unintended access can cause untold damage. 

Secret Detection tools are ideal for resolving this issue. Secret detection tools prevent unintentional security lapses as it scans source code, logs, and other files to detect secrets left behind by the developer. One of the best examples of a secret detection tool is GitGuardian. GitGuardian’s code searches for proof of secrets in developers’ repositories and stops “hackers from using GitHub as the “backdoor to business.” From keys to database connection strings, SSL certificates, usernames, and passwords, GitGuardian protects 300 different types of secrets. 

Organizations can also prevent leaks with vaults and pre-commit hooks.         

Vaults: Vaults are an alternative to using secrets directly in source code. Vaults make it impossible for developers to push secrets to the repository. Azure vaults, for example, can store keys and secrets whenever needed. Alternatively, secrets can be used in Kubernetes.                                                                                                                                     

Pre-Commit hooks: Secret detection tools can also be activated with pre-commit tools, such as the tools embedded in the developer’s IDE to identify sensitive information like keys, passwords, tokens, SSH keys. 

Dependency Scanning 

When a popular NPM module, npm left-pad (a code shortcut), was deleted by an irate developer, many software projects for Netflix, Spotify, and other titans were affected. The developer wanted to take revenge as he was not allowed to name one of his codes “Kik,” as it was the name of a social network. The absence of a few lines of code could have created a major catastrophe if action was not taken on time. NPM decided to un-publish the code and give it to a new owner. Though it violated the principles of “intellectual property,” it was necessary to end the crisis.    

It is beyond doubt that if libraries/components are not up to date, vulnerabilities creep in. Failure to check dependencies can have a domino effect. If one card falls, others fall as well. Hence the need for clarity and focus because “components, such as libraries, frameworks, and other software modules, run with the same privileges as the application. If a vulnerable component is exploited, such an attack can facilitate serious data loss or server takeover. Applications and APIs using components with known vulnerabilities may undermine application defenses and enable various attacks and impacts.” 

Dependency Scanning identifies security vulnerabilities in dependencies. It is vital for instilling security in SDLC. For example, if your application is using an external (open source) library (known to be vulnerable), tools like Snyk and White Source Bolt can detect and fix all vulnerabilities.    

Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST) 

DAST helps to find vulnerabilities in running applications. Assists in the identification of common security bugs such as SQL injection, cross-­site scripting, OWASP top 10., etc. It can detect runtime problems that static analysis ignores, such as authentication and server configuration issues and vulnerabilities – apparent when a known user logs in. 

OWASP ZAP is a full-featured, free, and open-source DAST tool that includes automated vulnerability scanning and tools to aid expert manual web app pen-testing. ZAP can exploit and recognize a large number of vulnerabilities.

Interactive Application Security Testing (IAST) – Works best in the QA environment.  

Known as “grey box” testing, Interactive Application Protection Monitoring (IAST) examines the entire application. It has an advantage over DAST and SAST. It can be scaled. Normally an agent inside the test runtime environment implements IAST (for example, instrumenting the Java Virtual Machine [JVM] or the.NET CLR) – watches for operations or attacks and detects flaws. 

Acunetix is a good example of an IAST tool.

Runtime Application Self Protection (RASP)

Runtime Application Self Protection (RASP) is server-side protection that activates on the launch of an application. Tracking real-time attacks, RASP shields the application from malicious requests or actions as it monitors application behavior.  RASP detects and mitigates attacks automatically,  providing runtime protection. Issues are instantly reported after mitigation for root cause analysis and fixes.

An example of the RAST tool is Sqreen; Sqreen defends against all OWASP top 10 security bugs, including SQL injection, XSS, and SSRF. Sqreen is effective with its ability to use request execution logic to block attacks with fewer false positives. It can adapt to your application’s unique stack, requiring no redeployment or configuration inside your software, making setup easy and straightforward.

Infrastructure Scan  

These scans are performed on production and other similar environments. These scans look for all the possible vulnerabilities: software running, open ports, SSLs, etc., to keep abreast with the latest vulnerabilities discovered and reported worldwide. Periodic scans are essential. Scanning tools utilize vulnerability databases like Common Vulnerability and Exposure (CVE) and U.S. National Vulnerability Database (NVD) to ensure that they are up to date. Open VAS, Nessus, etc., are some excellent infrastructure scan tools. 

With containers gaining popularity, container-specific tools like Clair DB are gaining prominence. Clair is a powerful open-source tool that helps scan containers and docker images for potential security threats.  

Cultural aspect 

Organizations must change culturally and ensure that developers and security analysts are on the same page. Certain tools empower the developer and ensure that they play a critical role in instilling security. SAST in the DevSecOps pipeline, for example, empowers developers with security knowledge. It helps them decipher the bugs that they might have missed. 

Kunchala acknowledges that organizations that have defense built into their culture face less friction handling application security compared to others. So a cultural change is as important as technology. 

Conclusion: Security cannot be ignored; it cannot be an afterthought

No one tool is perfect. Nor can one tool solve all vulnerabilities. Neither can one apply one tool to the different stages of the SDLC. Tools must be chosen according to the stage of product development. For example, if a product is at the “functionality-ready” stage, it is advisable to focus on tools like IAST and RASP. The cost of fixing issues at this stage will be high though. 

Hence the need to weave security at all stages of the SDLC. Care must also be taken to ensure that the tools complement each other. That there is no noise in communication and the management and security/development are in tandem when it comes to critical decisions.

This brings us to another key aspect if organizations are keen on incorporating robust security practices – resources. Resource availability and the value addition they bring during the different stages of the SDLC counter the investment costs.  
The DevOps team at MagicFinserv works closely with the development and business teams to understand the risks and the priorities. We are committed to further the goal of continuous security while ensuring stability, agility, efficiency, and cost-saving.

To explore DevSecOps for your organization, please write to us at mail@magicfinserv.com.

The business landscape today is extremely unpredictable. The number of applications that are hosted on disparate cloud environments or on-prem has proliferated exponentially, and hence there is a growing need for swifter detection of discrepancies (compliance and security-related) in the IT infrastructure. Continuous security during the development and deployment of software is critical as there is no forewarning when and where a breach could happen. As organizations evolve, there is always a need for greater adherence to security and compliance measures.

Earlier, software updates were fewer. Security, then, was not a pressing concern and it was standard to conduct security checks late in the software development lifecycle. However, the times have changed. Frequent software updates imply that codes are changed frequently as well. In turn, this poses unimaginable risks (if care is not taken) and as there are changes in attack surfaces and risk profiles. So, can organizations afford to be slack about security? 

The answer is no. Security is not optional anymore, it is a fundamental requirement and must be ingrained at the granular level and hence the concept of continuous security. To arrest any flaw or breach or inconsistency in design (before it too late). Organizations must check different aspects of security periodically. Whether the check happens after a predefined time or in real-time depends upon the need of the business. Security checks can be manual or automated; it can be a review of configuration parameters on one hand and constant activity monitoring on the other.  

Defining Continuous Security 

Constant activity monitoring became de facto with the rise of parameter security. And when that happened, operations started using systems like IDS, IPS, WAF, and real-time threat detection systems. But this kind of security approach tended to take account of security monitoring involving operations or infrastructure teams. The continuous security paradigm made it possible for organizations to ensure greater levels of security. The continuous security model relies on organizational processes, approvals, and periodic manual checks to monitor the different kinds of hardware and software involved in operations.

Why DevSecOps 

“In 2018, Panera Bread confirmed to Fox News that it had resolved a data breach. However, by then it was too late as the personal information including name, email, last four digits of customer credit card number had been leaked through the website. Interestingly, Panera Bread was first alerted to the issue by security researcher Dylan Houlihan. According to KrebsOnSecurity 37 million accounts were likely to be impacted.” 

As organizations realized the importance of continuous security, the need for making it an extension of the DevOps process arose. Organizations desiring streamlined operations adopt DevOps as a means to shorten the systems development life cycle and ensure continuous delivery with high software quality.  

As DevOps, Cloud, and Virtualization gained prominence, agility and flexibility became the new axioms of development. But existing security and compliance processes that involved multiple levels of stakeholder engagement, and associated manual checks and approvals were time-consuming and tedious. A barrier to the development of a truly nimble enterprise.

We also know that as the number of people involved (stakeholders) increases, it takes greater effort to keep the business streamlined and agile. Despite that, stakeholders are integral to the DevOps process as they are responsible for the speed of delivery and quality of the application. Another barrier arises as a result of the bias and error inherent in manual security and compliance checks.    

Businesses must give due consideration to security best practices while ensuring the speed of delivery, flexibility, and agility as continuous changes in software during  DevDops are risky. But when security is integrated into DevOps’s continuous delivery loop, the security risks are minimized significantly. And so the natural extension of the concept of DevOps to DevSecOps. In the scheme of things, DevSecOps is where agile and continuous security meet.  

Ingraining Continuous Security in DevOps

While earlier, security was incorporated at the end of the software development lifecycle through manual/automated reviews, DevSecOps ensures that changes are incorporated at every stage. In doing so, loopholes that exist in code are revealed early. A quick reconciliation or remediation ensures better lead times and delivery outcomes.

Traditionally, instead of running security and compliance checks in parallel, security was taken care of after the application life cycle was complete. Though in recent years, developers have taken to writing safe code and following security best practices for developing applications, even today enterprises have not assimilated security in the continuous delivery process., Security assessments, PEN testing, vulnerability assessment, etc., are not covered in the DevOps cycle. As a result, the objective of “software, safer, sooner” is not achieved.     

SecDevOPs’ biggest asset is its inclusivity. It addresses security at every layer. All stakeholders are involved as well at the very beginning of the application’s lifecycle. It is a continuous process. Here, the security teams use all the tools and automation done by DevOps in conjunction with security teams.

Advantage of DevSecOps

DevSecOps Security is Built-In

DevSecOps runs on a very simple premise. Ensuring application and infrastructure security from the very beginning. Automating security tools and processes is integral to this approach as it is dependent on the speed of delivery that takes a hit whenever repeated or recurring low-complexity tasks are allocated to manual labor. Security scans and audits are onerous and time-consuming if done manually. 

However effective the DevOps team may be with automation and tools, its success depends upon integrating the work of security and audit teams within the development lifecycle. The sooner done, the better. As data breaches become common and the costs of remediating them are exorbitant, it becomes crucial to employ security experts at every stage of the software development life cycle instead of relegating them to gatekeeping activity.        

“DevSecOps is security within the app life cycle. Security is addressed at every stage”

DevSecOps Solution to Compliance Concern

With more access comes a greater threat. As applications moved to the cloud and DevOps became the much-sought means for streamlining operations, there were concerns about breaches. As third-party vendors were accessible to many of the internal processes, it became necessary to delineate access and ensure greater compliance. With the DevSecOps approach, all the fears were repudiated. It was evident that DevOps had no adverse effect. Instead, it ensured compliance. It is now more important to focus on how DevOps is implemented. How to balance automation of compliance adherence with minimal disruption to the business.  

Seven Salient Features of the DevSecOps Approach 

    Promote the philosophy “Security is everyone’s concern”

Develop security capability within teams and work with domain experts. Security teams work with DevOps to automate the security process. DevSecOps operatives work with security teams and integrate security as part of the delivery pipeline. Development teams and testing teams are trained on security so that they can focus on security to be as important as functionality.

❖     Address security bugs early.

Find and fix security bugs and vulnerabilities as early as possible in the Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC). This is done by automated scans and automated security testing, integrated with CI/CD pipeline. This requires a shift left approach in the delivery pipeline – the development and testing teams fix the issues as soon as it arises and then moves onto the next stage of the cycle. Right after addressing the concern. 

❖     Integrate all security software centrally

Integrating all security software (which includes code analysis tools, automated tests, vulnerability scans, etc.,) at a central location – accessible to all stakeholders. Since it is not viable to address multiple concerns at the same time. As it is a bit too much work in the early stages of the project, teams must prioritize. Priority must be accorded based on potential threats and known exploits. Doing this would help utilize the test results more effectively. 

❖     Continuously measure and shrink the attack surface.

Going beyond perimeter security by implementing continuous vulnerability scans and automated security tests minimizes the attack surface. Issues and threats are addressed before they can be exploited.

❖      Automation to reduce effort and increase accuracy.  

Agility and accuracy in security risk mitigation are dependent on the ability of the DevOps team to automate. This reduces the manual effort and associated errors that arise due to ingrained bias and other factors. The choice of tools used by the team is important as it should support automation. For obvious reasons, organizations prefer open-source tools as they are flexible and can be modified.  

  ❖    Automation in change management 

The push for automation has resulted in teams (involved application development and deployment) defining a set of rules for decision making. Increased availability of automation tools and machine learning gave greater impetus to change management automation. Only exceptional cases require manual intervention, thus decreasing the turnaround time.

❖     Ensures 24 x 7 compliance and reporting 

Compliance no longer remains a manual and cumbersome work to be done at certain times in the software life cycle. DevSecOps enables using automation to monitor compliance continuously and alert when the possible risk of breach happens. Compliance reporting often considered as an overhead, and time-intensive activity is now readily available. Thus, a system can be in a constant state of compliance.

DevSecOps – ensuring agility and security

The ever-increasing complexity in multi-cloud and on-premise and the highly distributed nature of DevOps operations (teams are spread across different zones) are driving organizations to ensure that continuous security is one of the pillars of the operational processes. In the evolving business landscape in the COVID-19 era, DevSecOps drives a culture of change. One, where security is no longer a standalone function and security teams work in tandem with development and testing teams to ensure that continuous deployment meets continuous security.     

As a leading technology company for financial services, Magic FinServ enables clients to scale to the next level of growth at optimal costs while ensuring adherence to security and compliance standards. Partnering with clients, in their application development and deployment journey, we establish secure practices from Day 0 to implement SecDevOps practices. From continuous feedback loops to regular code audits, all are performed in a standardized manner to ensure consistency. 

To explore DevSecOps for your organization, please write to us at mail@magicfinserv.com.

Burdened by silos and big and bulky infrastructure, the financial services sector seeks a change that brings agility and competitiveness. Even smaller financial firms are dictated by a need to cut costs and stand out. 

“The widespread, sudden disruptions caused by the COVID situation have highlighted the value of having as agile and adaptable a cloud infrastructure as you can — especially as we see companies around the world expedite investments in the cloud to enable faster change in moments of uncertainty and disruption like we faced in 2020.” Daniel Newman 

Embracing cloud in 2021

The pandemic has been the meanest disrupter of the decade. Many banks went into crisis mode and were forced to rethink their options and scale up to ensure greater levels of digital transformation. How quickly these were able to scale up to meet the customer’s demands became a critical asset in the new normal. 

With technology stacks evolving at lightning speeds and application architecture replaced with private, public, hybrid, or multi-cloud, the financial services sector can no longer resist the lure of the cloud.  Cloud has become synonymous with efficiency, customer-centricity, and scalability.  

Moreover, most financial institutions have realized that the ROI for investment in the cloud is phenomenal. The returns that a financial firm may get in 5 years are enormous. As a result, financial firms’ investment in the cloud market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 24.4% to $29.47 billion by 2021. The critical levers for this phenomenal growth would be business agility, market focus, and customer management.               

Unfortunately, while cloud adoption seems inevitable, many financial industry businesses are still grappling with the idea and wondering how to go about it efficiently. The smaller firms are relative newcomers in terms of cloud adoption. The industry had been so heavily regulated that privacy and fear of data leaks almost prevented the financial institutions from moving to the cloud. The most significant need is trust and reliability as migration to the cloud involves transferring highly secure and protected data. Therefore, the firms need a partner with expertise in the financial services industry to securely envision a transition to the cloud in the most seamless manner possible.  

Identifying your organization’s cloud maturity level     

The first step towards an efficient move to the cloud is identifying your organization’s cloud maturity level. Maturity and adoption assessment is essential as there are benefits and risks involved with short-and long-term impacts. Rushing headlong into uncharted waters will not serve the purpose. Establishing the cloud maturity stage accelerates the firm’s cloud journey by dramatically reducing the migration process’s risks and sets the right expectations to align organizational goals accordingly.

Progressing from none to optimized, presented below are the levels in terms of maturity. Magic FinServ uses these stages to assess a firm’s existing cloud state and then outlines a comprehensive roadmap that is entirely in sync with the firm’s overall business strategy. 

STAGE 1: PROVISIONAL

Provisional is the beginner stage. At this stage, the organization relies mainly on big and bulky infrastructure hosted internally. There is little or no flexibility and agility. At the most, the organization or enterprise has two or three data centers spread across a country or spanning a few continents. The LOBs are hard hit as there is no flexibility and interoperability. Siloed culture is also a significant deterrent in the decision-making process. 

The process for application development ranges from waterfall to basic forms of agile. The monolithic architecture/three-tier architecture hinders flexibility in the applications themselves. The hardware platforms are typically a mix of proprietary & open UNIX variants (HP UX, Solaris, Linux, etc.) to Windows.

There is a great deal of chaos in the provisional stage. Here the critical requirement is assessing and analyzing the business environment to develop an outline first. The need is to ensure that the organization gains confidence and realizes what it needs for fruitful cloud implementation. There should be a strong sense of ownership and direction to lead the organization into the cloud, away from the siloed culture. The enterprise should also develop insights on how they will further their cloud journey.

STAGE 2: VIRTUALIZATION 

In this next stage of the cloud maturity model, server virtualization is heavily deployed across the board. Though here again, the infrastructure is hosted internally, there is increasing reliance on the public cloud. 

The primary challenges that organizations face in this stage of cloud readiness are related to proprietary virtualization costs. LOBs may consider accelerating movement to Linux-based virtualization running on commodity servers to stay cost-competitive. However, despite the best efforts, system administration skills and costs associated with migration remain a significant bottleneck.

STAGE 3: CLOUD READY 

At this significant cloud adoption stage, applications are prepared for a cloud environment, in the public or private cloud as part of the portfolio rationalization exercise. 

The cloud migration approaches are primarily four types   

  • Rehosting: It is the most straightforward approach to cloud migration and as the name implies consists of lifting and shifting applications, virtual machines from the existing environment to the public cloud. When a lift-and-shift approach is employed, businesses are assured of minimum disruption, less upfront cost, and quick turn-around-time (this is the fastest cloud migration approach). But there are several drawbacks as well – there is no learning curve for cloud applications. Performance is not enhanced as there is no change in code. It is only moved from the data center to the cloud.        
  • Replatforming: Optimize lift and shift or move to another cloud from the existing cloud. Apart from what is done in the standard lift-and-shift, it involves optimization of the operating system (OS), changes in API, and middleware upgrade.   
  • Refactoring/Replacing: Here, the primary need is to make the product better and hence developers re-architect legacy systems to build cloud-native systems from scratch.    

The typical concerns at this cloud adoption stage are quantitative such as the economics related to infrastructure costs, developer/admin training, and interoperability costs. Firms or organizations are also interested in knowing the ROI and when it will finally break-even.

At this stage, an analysis of the organization’s risk appetite is carried out. With the help of a clear-cut strategy, firms can stay ahead of the competition as well. 

STAGE 4: CLOUD OPTIMIZED

Enterprises in this stage of cloud adoption realize that cloud-based delivery of IT services (applications or servers or storage or application stacks for developers) will be its end objective. They have the advantage of rapidly maturing cloud-based delivery models (IaaS and SaaS) and are increasingly deploying cloud-native architecture strategies and design across critical technical domains.

In firms with this level of maturity, cloud-native ways of developing applications are de facto. As cloud-native applications need to be architected, designed, developed, packaged, delivered, and managed based on a deep understanding of cloud computing frameworks, the need is for optimization throughout the ecosystem. The applications are designed for scalability, resiliency, and incremental enhance-ability from the get-go. Depending on the application, supporting tenets include IaaS deployment & management and container orchestration alongside Cloud DevOps. 

Conclusion

Cloud adoption has brought the immense benefits of reduced Capex Spend, lowered complexity in IT management, and improved security and agility across firms. The financial services sector has also increasingly adopted the cloud. Despite the initial apprehensions in terms of security and data breaches, an overwhelming 92% of banks are either already making effective use of the cloud or planning to make further investments in 2021/22, as evident from a report by the Culture of Innovation Index, recently published by ACI Worldwide and Ovum.  

While cloud adoption is the new norm, doing it effectively starts with identifying where the firm is currently and how long the journey is to be ‘cloud-native.’ 

Magic FinServ’s view of Cloud Adoption for Financial Firms

Magic FinServ understands the importance of a practical cloud roadmap. It strategizes and enables firms to understand what it is that they need. We are committed to finding the right fitment according to the financial firm’s business.

While in recent times, the preference is for a multi-vendor hybrid cloud strategy. With our cloud assessment and remediation services tailored specifically for financial institutions, we thoroughly understand the specialized needs of the capital market. Our team comprises capital-market domain expert cloud architects who assess, build, design, migrate cloud solutions tailored just for capital market players, and are in total compliance with the industry’s complex regulatory requirements.

At Magic FinServ, the journey begins with assessing maturity in terms of technical and non-technical capabilities. Magic has developed a comprehensive 128 point assessment that measures your organization’s critical aspects of cloud and organizational readiness. We understand the operational, security, and confidentiality demands of the buy-side industry and advise your firm on the best course of action. 

Magic FinServ helps demystify the cloud migration journey for firms and then continually improve the environment stability with the advanced Cloud DevOps offering, including SecDevOps. Our highly lauded 24/7 Production support is unique as it is based on adhering to SLAs at each stage of the journey. The SLAs are met across the solution and not just one area, and proper reporting is done to prevent any compliance-related issues. To explore how your organization can realize optimum cloud benefits across various stages of the cloud adoption journey, reach out to us at mail@magicfinserv.com or Contact Us.

Firstly, a sincere wish for safety and wellbeing of all, my deepest sympathies for those who fought valiantly and prayers for those who continue to fight. As our communities fight for lives and livelihood, we as  business leaders shoulder the responsibility to help our organizations and the world arise strong and resurgent. 

Magic FinServ is one such company where we could, overnight, move our operations into a remote working model, with all the security and confidentiality norms intact. This was only possible because we are a cloud-first company, effectively running our business on the cloud while supporting numerous clients across geographies. Amidst efforts to minimize disruptions to our daily business operations, we were also highly cognizant of the increased security vulnerabilities arising out of this paradigm shift. We made some hard and expensive choices to keep our global teams functioning well during severe lockdowns. We improvised and made possible actions that we would have never dreamt of and we will continue to make difficult choices in the months to come. There is no “Going Back to Work” as we know it today as several aspects that we took for granted will no longer be required while repeated lockdowns and disruptions will  become the norm. 

The Rising popularity of Cloud

As per a survey conducted by Forbes, in early 2020, as many as 50% of Financial Services leaders had placed Cloud BI as their top priority this year. And in a post-COVID world, the cloud is definitely going to be the center of all technology. Cloud, thus moved quickly from being an IT cost-center of a hedge-fund to an essential component for running a nimble, agile, and highly scalable organization that operates on a fully variable cost model, and most importantly securely accessible to all stakeholders. Smart managers will seize this opportunity to design a whole new organization from a brand new set of principles as virtual is now our new reality.   

Cloud for Hedge Funds

As the situation around COVID19 having unprecedented business implications arose, a key question also emerged that begs an answer:  Why are only some companies thriving and handling this disruption well? From a technical viewpoint, the companies that are handling it well are either the SaaS companies or those that have set themselves up predominantly operating on the cloud. 

For hedge funds, asset managers, and other capital market entities, the cloud has capabilities to support front, middle and back-office functions. This includes everything ranging from business applications and client relationship management systems to data management solutions and accounting systems. Cloud emerged as a path of choice but its considerations for capital markets are different than ones applicable for other businesses, owing to industry regulations, complex reporting, the sensitivity of data, and compliance requisites of the industry. 

As a provider of Digital Technology (AI / ML / Blockchain / Cloud) Services, Magic FinServ has a unique proposition that makes deploying and maintaining a capital markets cloud initiative time-bound, cost-effective, and highly secure. Our deep understanding of the vertical enables us to be a strategic partner as our customers design their organization to take on the new challenges and opportunities. 

Getting Started With Cloud: Time for a Health Check

A highly recommended first step towards the cloud, for any hedge fund or asset manager,  would be a comprehensive assessment of your organization for cloud readiness and maturity. The assessment of your IT infrastructure and operations for business continuity, reliability, scalability, accessibility, while maintaining the same levels of security and confidentiality as physically secure operations centers, is rather imperative so you can plan and weather the disruptions to emerge stronger and leaner. Well begun is half done stands true for cloud as well. 

At Magic FinServ, we developed a 128 point assessment offering that measures your organization on these critical aspects. We understand the operational, security, and confidentiality demands of the buy-side industry and we assess your ability to meet these exacting demands. Increasingly, your customers, investors, and other counterparties will also assess you on these parameters, so a comprehensive assessment study will help you respond to these queries with confidence.

The assessment need not be a time consuming, expensive affair since we have customized and optimized our assessment for the buy side-industry. A typical small to midsize operation would need about 2-3 months. It is a relatively small time investment that will identify the gaps and make recommendations to bridge these gaps so that your onward cloud journey is smooth, in-line with your business objectives and saves you from expensive mistakes later. 

Migration and Deployment to Cloud

According to ValueWalk, almost 90% of hedge funds will move to the cloud, in the next 5 years. Migration / Deployment to cloud was often seen as an IT cost initiative earlier, however, as firms move from a CapEx to an OpEx preference, it is now increasingly becoming a key element of a whole new way of operations. 

Most organizations in the financial services industry take a phased approach of moving to the cloud, with multi-year plans. They start with setting the framework and testing the waters with an initial few applications, usually business applications like Email, File Sharing, OMS, Risk, and CRM, moving them to a hosted model. The benefits of adopting this hosted model include gaining a highly available infrastructure of the cloud providers. This is typically followed by migrating data to the cloud and finally moving the bulk of the workload in a lift and shift mode. 

Somewhere in this journey, security is addressed. What is often missing in this  journey is the aspect of transformation, especially when there is the burden of legacy, monolithic applications that are in dire need of modernization and transformation. The proper planned and orchestrated migration to cloud is an ideal opportunity to address this long pending initiative.

Magic FinServ, with its focus on capital markets vertical, has developed an Integrated, Incremental, and Scalable method of incorporating cloud into the customer’s ecosystem. An integrated approach to Applications, Infrastructure, and Security helps us come up with a robust and holistic plan. The approach uses as many native services of the cloud provider as possible making it easily adaptable to the cloud environment, bringing in cost efficiencies. A segmented and incremental approach to Applications (Microservices), Infrastructure and Security (DevSecOps, Micro-Segmentation) results in moving incremental and prioritized workloads to the cloud, helping utilize multiple cloud environments thereby leveraging the best of all the providers and something that is integrated well into the hedge fund’s specific environment. Implementing the Infrastructure-as-code helps in making the cloud environment extremely manageable, scalable, simplified, and secured. 

This systemized incremental approach has helped entities to achieve rapid time to market and highly optimized cost of deployment while bringing incremental benefits very early in the deployment life cycle. Our objective remains to make this transition as much self-funded and sustainable as possible thereby delivering a high ROI. 

Managing the Cloud Environment Effectively

The Cloud is democratizing the consumption of IT Services and driving innovation. However if not governed effectively, this sudden freedom and access could spiral your  cloud’s running and managing costs, while making it susceptible to security risk. The democratization has been made possible by public cloud providers making available out of the box capabilities, or native cloud capabilities. However, these additional capabilities come at the cost of additional spend as well as some loss of flexibility. Optimal management of such capabilities is necessary to maintain a balance between time to market on one hand and cost, flexibility, and security on the other.

Magic FinServ has developed an integrated operations and IT monitoring support capability to provide customers with a SaaS type model, enabling the smooth and uninterrupted running of business operations incorporated in the architecture itself. Automated release and deployment, coupled with automated infrastructure testing help make change and configuration management easy and fast. Since uptime is crucial to operational efficiency and profitability, the high-touch support model across L1, L2, L3, ensures quick resolution of any issues and congruence across functions. 

Handling Enterprise Data

A key element of the buy-side industry is the management of enterprise data. This not only impacts upfront costs but also could potentially impact business outcomes. Magic FinServ, as a member of the EDMCouncil, ensures that an enterprise data architect is a part of our cloud center of excellence, as a best practice. We have been supporting enterprise data initiatives for several buy-side organizations over the years and hence are abreast of the inconsistencies that may be caused by customizing underlying data models to suit specific organization needs. Our industry-driven high touch support services help in managing these inconsistencies, especially as we help move data to the cloud or the constant upstream and downstream in hybrid cloud systems. 

Conclusion

As Asset Managers and Hedge Funds make this move to the cloud in a new paradigm, they should ideally make the move with trusted and industry-oriented managed service providers, since this is a tectonic shift in their operating model. Ultimately the move to the cloud is not just a technology choice, it’s a business decision.

Gartner Says By 2020, a Corporate “No-Cloud” Policy Will Be as Rare as a “No-Internet” Policy Is Today.

With the increasing number of cloud adoption rate, it has become instrumental for organizations to build a robust Cloud migrations strategy.

As per the Commvault report. the cloud Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) is driving the business leaders to move full speed ahead towards the cloud.

Many organizations are already moving part of their applications to cloud or planning to move all of their applications to cloud.  Apart from the reliability, scalability, cost optimization and security benefits, the recent disruption in cognitive technologies like AI/ML/Blockchain are one of the driving factors to embrace the cloud as an important IT strategy Most of the cloud providers are offering attractive easy to implement AI/ML platform along with other multidimensional benefits.

However, there are so many cloud providers, so many cloud services are available in the market.

Who is the best service provider? Which service model should be fit for the organizations?

The answers are not a single word or list of words. This is a process appropriately designed towards your business goals.

Hence choose a Cloud service provider who can work as a partner, not as a vendor.

This is a journey through the learning curve for both partners.

I am highlighting a few aspects which must be considered when selecting a cloud partner:

Define your migration strategy – IaaS vs PaaS vs SaaS. You need to select the right partner for platform, infrastructure and application services. Sometimes you may need to work with multiple providers for different services or you can have one combine managed Service partner.

The above diagram from Gartner is showing a perfect ownership sharing in various cloud service model. Like if you have a best in class application service team, you can procure infrastructure services or platform services from a service provider and align the internal team to run the cloud service. This will need extensive cloud training for the existing team, hire some cloud experts to build the in-house capability and robust service management process to coordinate among different vendors. Your cloud partner should take a role of your training partner in such cases. In a SaaS-based model, this is essential that cloud partner know your business and industry well. Because ultimately the cloud service will be fully integrated with the business model. Hence it is very important that the SaaS provider is fully aligned with your business need. Overall Selection Criteria can be designed by analyzing and comparing the below factors- 

The provider must be knowledgeable about your application, data, interfaces, compliance, security, BCP/DR and other business requirements. Critical Success Factors are defined in the various model. However, as per our study, we have listed Seven key success factors for cloud computing –

Cloud Partner – The most important step towards success. Choose a perfect cloud partner who will help in your journey towards success

 Cloud Strategy –

  • Create a plan & solution architecture
  • Define the cloud applications and services
  • Prepare the service catalogue
  • Build the capability and processes

Cost & performance – one of the most important success criteria.

  • Plan cost and ROI
  • Benchmark the performance
  • Proactive monitoring
  • Capacity planning
  • Right-sizing & optimization

Security –

  • Build the security strategy – secure all the layers and components
  • Automation, tooling and proactive monitoring
  • Plan the audit, compliance reporting & certification

Contract & SLA –

  • Incorporate all the aspects of the contract carefully with the legal help
  • Build customer and suppliers terms properly
  • Define Service SLA & service credits
  • Manage the contract (an ongoing process)

Automation –

  • Have an automation strategy
  • From Infrastructure to Application – automate the repetitive work
  • Increase the response and resolution
  • Reduce the human error

Manage the stakeholders –

  • Cloud adoption changing the organizational structure and IT landscape drastically.
  • Manage your stakeholders throughout the journey.
  • Assess the impact of positive and negative stakeholders on the project.

A managed service provider is the ideal solution in today’s complex world. At MagicFinServ, we are helping the global FinTech companies to build their successful SaaS model. Our highly skilled cloud team can align all the moving parts from architecting to implementation and deliver a production-ready solution. To know more about our Financial services focused cloud solution please contact us at  mail@magicfinserv.com

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