thinking beyond the clouds

DTCC’s Rob Gambardella and Michael Estes share how cloud computing could have the biggest impact on the firm’s applications and cost base

Providing safety and certainty to the financial services industry requires DTCC’s team of engineers, programmers and developers to not only have their heads in the clouds, but their feet firmly planted on the ground.

Increased agility, scalability, security and reduced costs – these are among the most universally recognized benefits of cloud computing technology, which enables companies to store and access data held on remote servers rather than on local ones or hard drive. For DTCC’s Rob Gambardella, though, client care could very well be at the top of that list.

"My team and I often found ourselves challenged by time, computing power and storage when we needed to run our risk engines against historical data for long periods of time,” said Gambardella, a Managing Director in Application Development and Maintenance (ADM) supporting the Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) domain in DTCC’s New Jersey office. “We would have to build a new environment that was large enough to handle the load and contained all necessary code, which oftentimes was different from production.”

Using test environments was rarely an option, said Gambardella, since regular development and testing activities were already occurring there. So, in 2014 as part of a large development initiative, the team built a risk post-production environment in the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud.

"The beauty of this technology is that it allows you to store and protect all your data there,” he said. “Now when we need to run a risk model, we can fulfill requests much more quickly by migrating the work to the cloud. As a result, we have freed up a significant amount of time and resources to address other priorities more efficiently and at less cost to the industry.”

Michael Estes, an Executive Director in Enterprise Infrastructure, remembers when DTCC first began contemplating ways to utilize cloud technology as an infrastructure alternative. As he recalls, the company had to balance the need to drive innovation with fulfilling its responsibility to clear and settle hundreds of millions of financial transactions each day. In addition, they put appropriate risk mitigants in place before moving forward.

"The challenge for us was answering the question: How do we maintain our core mission of providing safety and soundness to the financial services industry and innovate at the same time?” he said. “We had a responsibility to ensure that not only did we create solutions to leverage the technology and ultimately advance our mission, but also to design the appropriate internal control policies and procedures to help mitigate risk.”

While cloud computing has been around for some time, DTCC is only beginning to scratch the surface on the countless benefits that will be realized across the industry. Over the next five years, in fact, the company believes that cloud computing could potentially have the largest positive impact on its applications and cost base.

Estes points to the company’s use of the AWS Cloud for real-time swaps data reporting at a monthly cost of only a few thousand dollars – a major achievement that saved the firm millions of dollars by eliminating the need to buy, build and maintain internal servers, storage and security structures. “The savings to the industry for this one project are significant,” Estes said. “Now imagine how much additional cost we can wring out of the system by utilizing the cloud for other initiatives.”

So what does the future hold for cloud computing capability at DTCC? Both Gambardella and Estes agree – the sky is the limit.

"Because of the cloud, we’re no longer bound by the physical constraints of a piece of equipment or software,” said Estes. “So the engineering opportunities completely open up, turning what once were difficult, time consuming tasks into solutions that are increasingly possible and can be achieved in real time.”

“And, we’ve only just begun,” added Gambardella. “We’re in the proof of concept stage on a variety of initiatives, including legal record retention and other historical data reporting. If they prove to be successful, we’ll start to drive even more savings in the years ahead.”

Scott Mullins Head of Worldwide Business Development
of Financial Services,
Amazon Web Services, Inc.

“Security, resiliency and scalability are not only baseline requirements for mission-critical systems that power global financial markets, they’re also the basis upon which we build our services. This alignment is transforming the financial services industry. DTCC continues their leadership in global capital markets by both innovating to improve existing financial systems today and providing thought leadership to inform the financial systems of the future.”