When the Financial Services Authority (FSA) introduces new rules, companies under its jurisdiction often have to invest in IT to enable them to adhere to the new guidelines.
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Because data is so important in finance companies, regulations around data security and storage have forced them to invest in technology. And it is not just the big banks.
While large banks have the IT resources to meet the regulations through in-house development, small financial services firms face major challenges.
One such company is insurance broker Quote Me Today.
Instigated by the attack on the World Trade Centre on 11 September 2001, financial regulators introduced new rules that meant finance firms had to ensure a percentage of their businesses can maintain operational continuity in the event of a disaster. There are hefty penalties if they fail.
Quote Me Today is a small company with 50 staff and one in-house IT worker. With 11 severs and over 60 workstations the company used back-up to tape for its critical data.
Paul Cole, IT manager at Quote Me Today, who is the only in-house IT worker, said after weighing up the possible penalties for downtime the company decided to use a managed disaster recovery service. About two years ago the company moved to a cloud-based disaster recovery (DR) service fully managed by Plan B DR.
Cole said the previous method was too risky and a cloud service managed by a third party made sense: “We chose a cloud service because I am on my own here so we needed it managed by a supplier. In the past we were just hoping that nothing went wrong.”
Quote Me Today now has fully comprehensive protection cover of its IT systems – with a guarantee of full systems recovery within 30 minutes if there is an outage.
The company had previously used cloud-based web filtering software and its email was also cloud based.
Cole said transferring the data to the Plan B DR cloud was straightforward. An appliance was plugged into the Quote Me Today infrastructure to take a snapshot of the data that was destined for the cloud. It took about two weeks to transfer the data. Now a snapshot is taken each night and transferred to the cloud.
Quote Me Today pays a monthly charge per server in the cloud.
Cole says the cloud service had not only given the company peace of mind but freed him up to do more proactive IT work. "DR is a job in itself," he said.
"The service has allowed me to focus on more proactive work keeping the network running and making tweaks to it to improve things."
But Cole does not believe that the cloud is the answer to everything: "I am still not entirely convinced that the cloud is the best for everything. You lose control of data and the infrastructure."