The Need for Accelerating Cloud Migration in Financial Services Industry

Laurent Beaudet, Global Head of Cloud IaaS Service, SocieteGenerale

Laurent Beaudet, Global Head of Cloud IaaS Service, SocieteGenerale

For over 20 years and counting, Laurent Beaudet has been serving the banking industry with his experience and expertise in IT critical infrastructures. Beaudet started his career in 1995 as a Unix system administrator within a trading room and continued it through multiple roles and responsibilities till 2018 when he moved on to fulfill the position of global head of cloud and regular IaaS (compute, operating systems, storage, backup, and software-defined network) services for the Societe Generale Group worldwide.

Beaudet takes advantage of a strong technical specialization in infrastructure management and leadership for production teams in highly critical business environments, studying strategic infrastructures and making choices, setting up data center strategies and urbanization of its operations, asset management, as well as front-end and back-end technologies.

In an interview with CIO Applications Europe magazine, Beaudet talks about how the sudden emergence of the pandemic has resulted in increased pressure on digital transformation, both digital workplace and application cloud transformation for financial businesses. He also sheds light on the importance of having robust cybersecurity strategies to secure data and cloud infrastructures from threat actors.

Please walk us through some of the latest trends you’ve observed in the financial services market since the pandemic.

Since the emergence of the pandemic, we have been witnessing a rapid adoption, directly and indirectly, of cloud technology, data and AI/ML, and several other digital technologies. Almost every business shifted to a digital workplace to provide uninterrupted customer experience and satisfaction. From the Societe Generale standpoint, we have always been a frontrunner of digital technologies in the market. We did not have to wait for the pandemic to learn the importance of having a robust cloud platform for the applications, as a smart digital workplace for the users. We were prepared, not simply because of the pandemic, but because we always had a strategic digital approach to revamp our work into something smart and technology-enabled. Our primary strategy for past 5 years was to have a hybrid multi-cloud workspace, and the pandemic has only accelerated or triggered its adoption in today’s business.

Can you share a bit about the latest project initiatives where you leveraged these trends to attain success or drive it forward?

By the end of 2020, the first leg of our cloud migration was completed in which we shifted 80% of workload to multi-cloud services. At Societe Generale, we function on public and private clouds, but the majority so far is private, only 5% is public. Today, we have entered a new journey where we are accelerating the adoption of second-generation cloud services, with 20% of our total application landscape targeted to be “cloud native”, 20% on public, and 30% on our private second-generation cloud. This second legis expected to be complete by 2025.

During the past journey to the cloud, we transferred the applications via a lift-and-shift mode to not impact their architectures and designs. With the second-generation cloud services, we are accelerating the pace of application transformation. The applications are hence being refactored, enabling them to scale automatically and be resilient by design. Post refactoring, the applications will be able to benefits cloud innovations on the latest AI and ML algorithms for instance and will enhance their time to market through continuous deployments.

How do you envision the next 12 to 18 months for the financial services space with all these potential disruptions and digital transformations taking place?

The rapid adoption of digital transformation will accompany the future. But it will also increase cybersecurity concerns. The past couple of years has shown businesses struggling to fight against the threat actors, and the frequency of these sophisticated attacks is only increasing day by day. In that light, we must not degrade the security posture of the new cloud infrastructures. Instead, we will need more robust and proven strategies to reinforce protection against cyber threats, including ransom ware, data breaches, and so on.

Societe Generale continuously invests in cybersecurity and robust cloud infrastructures. Cloud technologies allow us more versatility and enables us to deploy applications quickly. However, as cloud adoption increases the volatility of infrastructures, we are increasing our focus around cybersecurity since it must be a key concern for every business out there undergoing digital transformation.

"Businesses must be competitive internally and carry out the arduous cloud migration gracefully as a team"

The pandemic has also compelled us to allow remote working for employees and collaborators. Technology has allowed them to be as efficient or even more as they were in the office. As a result, we are continuing to enhance Societe Generale’s digital workplace by implementing the latest, best-in-breed technologies and innovations. This serves also our attractivity and pandemic is indeed accelerating and pushing the digital transformation forward for us, and we are excited to see how soon we complete the entirety of the journey.

What advice would you give your colleagues and peers regarding achieving success in the industry?

Professionals working in this industry may find cloud technology to be complex in the beginning because of its new semantics, principles, and technologies, to name a few. It also blurs accountability lines between IT teams. I would then advise them to be very clear about what they are trying to achieve and the final values they are aiming to add for the business. Based on that, they ought to adoptnot only a technology but an operational model that suits them the best. Cloud technology has proven potential that can make a business evolve, so being wise is a must!

Secondly, the journey of cloud adoption is long in regard to deep application transformation and refactoring, so companies must be clear about their business objectives and values they will get. In order to achieve the best of cloud, companies must direct their investments to staff training and recruitment of technology experts and architects. Moreover, it is also essential to choose the best cloud provider possible and looking at the price tags along won’t do. A provider can offer cheap technologies, but you must ensure with “finops”all indirect and complex costs to meet your business objectives and add the right value at the right cost to customers.

Finally, CTOs must remember not to put all their data on the cloud without being wise about the nature of those data to minimize both respect of all regulations, the breadth of the possible attack surfaces, and costly data exchanges between public and private. In a nutshell, businesses must be competitive internally and carry out the arduous cloud migration gracefully as one team from applications to infrastructures without being dogmatic.

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