Though Bob Dylan originally sang those words in 1964, they’ve probably never been truer than they are today, at least when it comes to technology.
Name the industry, and in almost all cases technology-led disruptors have entered and seriously shaken up the status quo. Amazon’s effect on retail is obviously the prime example, but Uber’s impact on the livery industry, Netflix’s impact on content distribution and even Casper’s impact on the mattress industry are others. Perhaps the only major industry to have *not* seen a significant impact due to the entry of new, tech-savy disruptors is the capital markets.
But in the opinion of some, it is only a matter of time before the major global banks – most of whom operate aging, overly-complex technology stacks – will see the same type of competition that other industries have felt.
Complexity Without Cloud
Currently, trying to decipher a problem in a large bank’s capital markets infrastructure is like an archaeological dig, according to Tony Amicangioli, Founder and CEO of capital markets infrastructure technology provider HPR (formerly known as Hyannis Port Research).
“As you cut through the crust of technological layers you might find that in the early 2000s whoever was head of IT thought C++ was the solution to everything. Then they were replaced by a Java devotee and the most recent layers were built by a true believer in Python and their team. Multiply this across different regions – Europe, AsiaPac and the Americas – and again by asset class, with some solutions developed in-house, others by vendors, and it becomes unmanageable. Fixing it seems impossible. How are you going to take all these mission-critical systems off-line and rebuild from scratch?” said Amicangioli.
Firms like Amazon, Apple, Google and Microsoft – the cloud natives, if you will – don’t have this problem. Their foundational technology leverages the Cloud natively and is built to scale. At their essence, they are very simple. Take Google, which is fundamentally a distributed, de facto operating system. Ten Google apps may do ten very different things, but the underlying technology is highly unified. This efficiency and unification have enabled the rapid ascent of these companies.
“Cloud technology is not just about moving applications to a central provider’s data center,” says Amicangioli. “In our view, effectively leveraging the Cloud is about unifying your systems and simplifying your development approaches within a singular and universal computing environment. We see all technology frameworks ultimately destined for this since it almost always represents the most cost-effective, responsive and performant environment.”
Amicangioli knows. He was previously CTO of Tower Research’s Lime Brokerage subsidiary, one of the early winners in the race to sponsor HFT providers. Before that he founded one of the first Cloud startups, and early in his career served as an executive at hardware powerhouse Juniper Networks.
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