Complexity has become an inevitable byproduct of the move to the cloud. While opening up many new options for financial institutions and banks, this migration has also revealed the limitations of the traditional enterprise data center.
These organizations say managing, using, and securing cloud data calls for a modernized way to make it uniformly accessible and available across all hybrid-cloud and on-premise storage.
“Outmoded storage and file-sharing technologies, like so-called unified NAS, are causing downtime and can’t cope with synchronous, real-time collaboration,” said Glen Shok, a vice president at Panzura. The cloud data management company has developed global file system technology that is used by large organizations.
Jeff Foydl is familiar with the problem as chief information officer at Lincoln International, a mid-market investment bank that serves the private equity community. The firm has offices in the U.S., Europe, and Asia.
“We have experienced huge growth around the world, and as we’ve grown our unstructured data has exploded. The challenge is getting it to the people who need it, when they need it.”
Unstructured data is more complicated than other types of data that is held in databases. It comes from many sources such as records from call center interactions and customer-facing systems, earnings transcripts, financial filings, email exchanges, and survey responses. “Our advisors create a lot of PowerPoint and Excel documents,” Foydl said.
More than 80% of data at large corporations is unstructured. Vast amounts are underutilized because these firms lack the tools to move, manage, access and analyze it.
Lincoln International replaced traditional file servers with the Panzura global file system. “Employees can now walk into any office, hook up their laptop, and get access to the same data almost instantaneously, anywhere in the world.”
“A lot of corporations come to us because their legacy storage and backup, or over-hyped unified NAS, is just plain inflexible. These solutions may work on a single site, but they don’t scale and that’s a huge problem for banks and financial firms,” Shok said.
Outdated technologies, according to Shok, also lack the straight-away data consistency and speed of Panzura.
Foydl said his company now makes petabytes of data concurrently available to users. “It’s been a glide path to more aggressively and securely manage our files, and adapting to remote work has been pretty effortless.”
Shok says the file system has an immutable architecture that is resistant to ransomware attacks and other cyber threats, with near-immediate recovery capabilities. Fitch Ratings reports that ransomware attacks, a type of cyber-extortion scheme where hackers hold data and even entire computing networks hostage for ransom payments, have increased almost fivefold in the last year.
“With Panzura data can be restored all the way down to a single file, individual directories, or even the entire system in just a few minutes,” Shok said.
Panzura has FIPS 140-2 certification, a government data-processing standard, and the system maintains a single source of data across all locations, and one security policy, which Shok said cannot be changed, edited, or encrypted.
Foydl says data defense and recovery was a consideration when Lincoln International selected Panzura. The company uses the system to shield data from accidental deletion or overwriting. “The principle is the same. Files are reverted to a granular restoration point in a few quick steps.”
Structured database files can be archived in the file system to give them the same immutable characteristics, noted Shok.
Conversely, he said Panzura allows all traces of files to be wiped out in compliance with the strict privacy requirements of the National Institute of Standards and Technology. NIST, as the bureau is known, is an agency of the Commerce Department.
These types of capabilities help make IT staff at banks and financial services firms more efficient so they can spend time on other tasks, according to Shok. “They use built-in AI, for example, to automatically analyze data consumption and storage performance.”
Artificial intelligence also automates security and activity alerts in the file system, and other tools diagnose and troubleshoot the network environment.
Foydl says his industry relies on making faster and smarter decisions. “Our business is to provide the strategic guidance and thoughtful execution that investors and executives need to succeed. That means our IT pros have to stay one step ahead at all times.”
Financial institutions are rich with data, and while that bodes well for the digitally transformed future, harnessing that data so it can be used by disparate locations and business units, simultaneously, involves making choices.
“The implementation, in partnership with Panzura, has fostered even more agility and we’re pleased with the results thus far,” said Foydl.