Our customer, a UK Bank specialises in business and personal finance, serves a small number of carefully chosen markets. Through a cycle of research and continuous improvement, coupled with leading experts, the bank maintains a profound understanding of the following markets: asset finance, specialist mortgages, development finance solutions and savings accounts to individuals and businesses. Crucially for the bank and its customers, these focusses are solely provided to UK consumers and businesses, ensuring that their finance expertise is used to boost the UK economy.
The customer was an early adopter of Cloud, but with lots of planned expansion in line with its highly regulated requirements, they trusted Softcat to ensure that reliability and automation were cornerstones of its Cloud operations.
- UK Bank specialising in business and personal finance, serving a small number of carefully chosen markets.
- Highly regulated with stringent technology, commercial and contractual controls.
- Seeking new ways to evolve its use of technology and the operation of IT.
With a diverse range of on-premises and Cloud based IT platforms, the customer is heavily guided by its regulators and authorities, like many other financial services organisations. Those guidelines are often perceived as purely technology factors. But what’s often overlooked is the associated contractual and commercial factors which can dictate the partners and providers that financial service organisations can engage with. Here in lied the first challenge; ensuring that its Cloud expansion for regulated consumer services was done so in accordance with strict governance controls. The second challenge arose around the bandwidth of internal IT resource. As with many organisations, there is a constant balancing act between business-as-usual (BAU) support and new tactical or strategic initiatives. A customer spokesperson said:
"As with many businesses, the bank was at a crossroads to ensure reliability of its Cloud platforms, the adoption of new technology and balancing of resource across these two distinct areas. We had an existing reseller agreement with Softcat so it made sense to explore what kind of additional expertise they could provide to support us and as it transpired, Softcat has a full cloud native managed service partner (MSP) capability which was what we needed. But more than that, the Softcat team had the maturity to adopt flow down regulated contractual terms which we require of such strategic relationships."
Critical success factors
- Reduce monthly costs and improve operational reliability and security.
- Minimise use of internal resource for BAU.
- Ensure a robust and mature partnership, adopting contractual controls required of a UK bank.
Through a series of Cloud workshops, it was clear that Softcat could provide the optimum blend of strategic advisory along with industrialised operational and technology transformation capabilities. On this basis, a partnership for Public Cloud managed services was agreed with the customer, initially focussed on Microsoft Azure. However, to ensure a valuable and future-proof partnership, the joint team had to ensure a well-balanced use of technology, commercial and contractual/legal controls to meet the highly regulated requirements of a UK Bank. Examples included:
• Cloud native design, build and operations (leveraging aspects such as infrastructure as code and highly compliant cloud native tooling to avoid additional operational complexity).
• Security testing, backup and recovery controls to ensure business and customer data protection.
• Use of the Softcat Cloud Management Portal to ensure aggregated multi-cloud data points (reliability, security, cost and sustainability) into a single pane of glass.
Following Softcat’s highly efficient and automated discovery process, an onboarding plan was established by reviewing the existing Azure platform to identify a series of optimisations (commercial, security, reliability, architecture) with associated severity (critical to be mitigated immediately, those which could be tolerated for a short period of time and those which were informational only).
Following the discovery, several items were mitigated followed by acceptance into service, where-in Softcat provides 24x7x365 PlatformOps for Microsoft Azure.
“The journey with this customer is extremely exciting due to the regulated nature of the their business and strict adherence to technical and contractual conditions. Softcat was able to demonstrate its experience in building a strategic partnership leveraging operational excellence in the Cloud domain. The work has been challenging for everyone involved, but this is the type of relationship which our operational teams are enthused to work in. When faced with unique problems, I believe our team is the best in the industry.” – Matt Larder, Head of Cloud at Softcat.
- 24x7x365 Azure PlatformOps
- FinOps to ensure maximum optimisation and alignment of IT to business needs.
- Ongoing architectural oversight to help shape new projects inline with best practice and operational efficiency.
The key results included a more efficient Azure platform (technology) with a Softcat 24x7x365 managed service for PlatformOps to ensure continuous governance (architecture, commercial, security and reliability); and a future-proof, UK Banking compliant contractual framework which allows robust cloud adoption.
A customer spokesperson said:
“The end-to-end process was extremely efficient, taking approximately 4-weeks to identify & plan for improvements in our current platform as well as highly automated onboarding into the Softcat service. In parallel to this, we worked efficiently to agree an appropriate framework with Softcat.
“We’re looking forward to the future of the partnership with Softcat and many cloud based projects we can now tackle with peace of mind that we have the right controls and services to underpin our business and customer data.”
At a Glance
- Reduction in the amount of time internal teams spend on BAU activities
- Greater integration with native Azure features for visibility, security and recovery thus reducing operational complexity
- Opportunity to rationalise unused assets, reduce ongoing costs and secure discounts on future provision