When you think of the term “cloud technology,” Microsoft is top-of-mind even for decidedly non-technologists. The buy side has only relatively recently come around to the idea of using cloud-based technologies to cut costs and save resources, even though the idea of a public cloud still scares most of them. That has been Microsoft’s challenge: to convince the buy side that Azure is for more than storing recorded movies and songs. Microsoft appears to have been effective in this respect, the result of which is the Redmond, Wash.-based behemoth being named this year’s best cloud provider to the buy side.
To accomplish this feat, they’ve turned to partnerships with respected vendors with a buy-side focus, including Equipos, Numerix and Xenomorph. Bruce McKee, financial services industry lead for Microsoft UK, says these pairings are necessary to provide specific value for financial functions.
“You have to run risk management on it, or run some kind of service on it that gives value back, otherwise it’s just a bunch of infrastructure with no particular inherent value,” McKee says. “Anything that’s running over our cloud platform has some kind of application focus to it, whether it’s for a website, risk management, or delivery for clients’ service.”
Microsoft has invested $18 billion into its Azure-based infrastructure, with nine major datacenters currently live and another five under construction.
“Everyone thinks the cloud is a big, amorphous thing where the data just flies around everywhere—that’s really not the case,” McKee says. “Azure is as much about concrete and cabling as it is about anything else. You can see the investment that’s been made.”
Microsoft boasts a deployment saving of 80 percent, in addition to high-volume, data-centric processing, with Equipos (see page 51), one of its partners, churning out 1 million reports in a 12-hour period in the cloud.
This is the second year that this award has been handed out, with Microsoft toppling defending recipient BT for this year’s top honor.
“This award reflects the investments Microsoft has made in Azure and our commitment to delivering agile, secure and cost-effective solutions to financial services firms around the globe. Azure enables buy-side firms to focus on their core business, rather than dedicating time and resources to maintaining complex, resource-heavy IT infrastructures. We are delighted that over the past year, by working directly with clients and the regulators in the main financial services jurisdictions, Microsoft has been able to overcome the concerns clients previously had about entrusting their valuable data to a public cloud service. Buy-side firms can now adopt Azure and gain the benefits of cloud computing, namely the flexibility and scale, at a very low cost. This is going to serve clients well as they look to enhance their client service and risk management capabilities while reducing costs within their business.”
—Bruce McKee, UK industry lead for financial services, Microsoft