How to overcome the complexity of IT infrastructure certification?

Posted by Elinor June 6, 2017
How to overcome the complexity of IT infrastructure certification?

My experience with a majority of the Fortune 500 financial organizations has taught me that customer experience is key to the success of the financial services institution. This comes with value based services, secure financial transactions and a positive customer engagement.  It sounds simple and in a bygone era where banker’s hours meant something, i.e. 9am to 5pm, the right thing was understood because the customer interaction with the financial organization was a personal, human experience.

Organizations are challenged with the rapid pace of technology advancements

Now, shift into the digital age with technology augmenting the human experience and what you have is the ability to reach more customers, at any time, with self service capabilities.  This sounds great but in order to accomplish these objectives, the financial organizations are challenged with the rapid pace of technology advancements, cyber threats and compliance regulations.   Technology advancements that include new dynamic financial applications, mobile banking and digital currency are causing a ripple effect that necessitate IT infrastructure updates.  Cyber threats are emerging daily and are becoming more difficult to detect.  Data protection and the associated compliance regulations with regard to privacy and data residency continue to place organizations at risk when adherence measures are not introduced in a timely manner.

Financial Applications certification can take weeks, if not months

One of the key challenges with IT infrastructure updates is that the IT organization is always in a “catch up” mode due to the lack of capabilities that allows them to quickly meet the business requirements.  The problem is exacerbated given the following resource constraints:

  • People: Teams working in silo’s may not have a methodology or a defined process
  • Tools: Open source or proprietary, non-standardized tools introduce false positive results
  • Test Environments: Inefficient, lack the required test suites, expensive, manual processes
  • Time: Weeks and months required to certify updates
  • Budget: Under financed, misunderstood complexity leading to cost overruns

The net result of these challenges is that any certification process for a financial application and the associated IT infrastructure can take weeks, if not months.

Quali’s Cloud Sandbox approach to streamline validation and certification

Quali solves one of the hardest problems to certify an environment by making it very easy to blueprint, set-up and deploy on-demand, self-service environments.

Quali’s Cloud Sandboxing solution provides a scalable approach for the entire organization to  streamline workflows and quickly introduce the required changes. It uses a self-service blueprint approach with multi-tenant access to enable standardization across multiple teams. Deployment of these blueprints includes extensive out of the box orchestration capabilities to achieve end to end automation of the sandbox deployment. These capabilities are available through simple, intuitive end user interface as well as REST API for further integration with pipeline tools.

Sandboxes can include interconnected physical and virtual components, as well as applications, test tools monitoring services and even virtual data. Virtual resources may be deployed in any major private or public cloud of choice.

With these capabilities in place, it becomes much faster to certify updates – both major and minor – and significantly reduce the infrastructure bottlenecks that slow down the rollout of applications.

Join me and World Wide Technology Area Director Christian Horner, as we explore these concepts in a webinar moderated by Quali CMO Shashi Kiran. Please register now , as we discuss trends, challenges and case-studies for the FSI segment and beyond on June 7th, 2017 at 10 AM. PST




The Power of Certification Labs for Financial Services

Posted by Pascal Joly January 26, 2017
The Power of Certification Labs for Financial Services

In 2016, I had the privilege of consulting with about a dozen major financial services organizations from Toronto to Charlotte, and it became evident that there is a strong need for these highly regulated businesses to adopt an increasing amount of new technology.

Security is the number one driver of new technology adoption (I know, a real shock, right?). Not at all coincidental given my specific line of work, I’ve found that certification labs are under mounting pressure to move work through their organizations more quickly all the time.

When considering the value chain of new technology adoption, there are many individual segments ranging from, “We’re going to look at this new technology” to “We’re ready to apply this new technology to our production network.” Although the certification lab is only one such segment, there are varying degrees of bottlenecks from beginning to end and I gather that the lab’s build-up of work in progress is the most painful and critical issue to solve.

The major problems that I’m hearing from my customers are:

  • Excessive time required to build production replica test beds
  • Conflict over equipment in use, long waits for access to lab equipment, or inadvertent test termination cause by human error
  • Manual testing workflows requiring constant human engagement and oversite
  • Limited to zero visibility into lab equipment utilization, or individual testing work metrics (tests executed per individual)

If solved, all of these areas could have a tremendous impact to increase speed and agility in the lab. The real crux of the situation for most labs involves budget constraints. Traditionally, the certification lab is a cost center tasked to perform a whole lot of work with limited resources. Very simply, cash is hard to come by. When dollars do become available, justifying a major investment in a transformative solution is more difficult for what is considered a cost center in the mind of the business. That’s why so many labs revert to the tired (yes, that’s not a typo—I said tired) and true solution of building a new rack or two to accommodate demand.

For the managers, directors and VPs that are in agreement that the more equals more approach is tired and no longer true, the willingness of the enterprise to introduce innovative solutions into the lab becomes easy, and dollars are freed up. And the good news for these organizations is that the solutions to all of their problems are fairly mature and have been vetted by the market. All that is required is money, energy and time to evaluate and adopt the best solution for their specific requirements. Significant ROI can be realized in as little as six to 12 months.

What I am advising organizations to do when requesting a budget increase is to carefully examine what short-term wins will grab the attention of executives and help free up dollars for lab innovation. In other words, solve one problem with a manageable investment in order to justify (or even fund) solving the next or all of the problems they face for increasing work requirements and demands from the business. In this way, they can chip away at major innovation incrementally, one quarter or budget cycle at a time.

So if you’re eager to innovate in your lab, and budget and resource constraints are holding you back, consider solving your problems incrementally. And, if you want to solve them all with a single solution, they are out there (and you might not have to look too much farther than this blog post in your search).

When consulting, I guide my customers toward the solutions that make the most sense given their unique situations. The most dynamic approach to create a short win and freeing up budget for the future is providing business intelligence and visibility where there is currently limited to zero visibility into lab equipment utilization, or individual testing work metrics (problem statement #4 above).

If you can baseline performance with reliable and easy-to-consume metrics, and prove in the light of day that more equipment to meet demand is not the answer, you’ve just opened to door to justifying a major round of funding.