Mazy Dar, CEO of OpenFin, comments on how the coronavirus is impacting SaaS, the cloud, and BCP measures in today’s market.
Tech innovations over the last decade have allowed for BCPs to run more smoothly than before, such as when Hurricane Sandy struck America’s East Coast or the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Cloud, SaaS platforms, and increased bandwidth have offered the ability for staff to increasingly work remotely. Teleconference and messaging apps ensure essential communication doesn’t drop off. Yet, for all of these advancements, new challenges have emerged.
Institutions that have been slow to adopt cloud policies will be cut off to certain sensitive data that is stored only on-premise; traders will have to contend with less screen real estate; a horde of new home networks and VPNs are beckoning cybercriminals, and then there’s the question of whether the bustling traffic thrust upon Wi-Fi networks in residential areas can support widespread working from home.
“We’re in a much better place than five or 10 years ago, but you realize how much more there is to do,” says Mazy Dar, co-founder, and CEO of industry operating system provider OpenFin, which works closely with many of the biggest banks.
One area that leaves much to be desired still is chat, Dar adds. In a conference call last Friday, Dar sat on the line with about 15 to 20 people, some of whom were on the client-side. The person leading the call instructed everyone on the line to use a Symphony chatroom to communicate so that no one would miss important conversations or messages.
Dar asked to be added into the chatroom but was told it was restricted, and that he’d first have to go through an onboarding process, which could take weeks. It’s just a simple example, he says, but in an environment like this one, you realize some rules in the capital markets—put into place for good reason, such as ensuring compliance—are limiting.
However, while some banks and asset managers have gotten comfortable with using the public cloud, that transition might not have happened soon enough to help with this latest disaster. Large banks still look to maintain a majority of their data on the firms’ local servers. Dar says this leads to two problems: one, data is less accessible. Two, those firms are banking on believing their own backup systems are built on par with the major cloud providers, Google, AWS, and Microsoft.
In 2000, Dar joined electronic trading venue Creditex Group as chief strategy officer, working through the SARS outbreak in 2003. He remembers the time distinctly. Traders had commonly accessed the platform through desktop applications in their offices, and a security measure many firms had taken by that time was to lock down the IP addresses so that the app was only available through bank-owned IPs. When SARS—the respiratory disease caused by the SARS coronavirus—took hold, traders who were working from home couldn’t access the platform.
“These things are always hard because it’s a balance between security, compliance, and privacy on the one hand, and then, on the other hand, ease of accessibility, as well as things like redundancy and scalability, which the cloud provides,” Dar says. “The reality is that today, cloud security and the tools available to manage compliance are there. So it’s not that the cloud is not secure. It’s simply that the industry has not moved fast enough to embrace it. And this should be a wake-up call.”
OpenFin, which is based in downtown Manhattan, moved to allow its staff to work from home starting the week of March 16. In the days leading up to peak market and cultural hysteria, the vendor, upon reviewing its existing BCP plan, tripled its accounts for video conferencing service Zoom. All internal and client meetings are being conducted virtually or via phone.
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