Actifio is now part of Google Cloud. Read the full announcement.

Data Virtualization, Backups, and the Reduction of Stress-Test-Stress

We start with data backup. We always start with backup, using a unique platform that virtualizes data and manages dramatic reductions in the number of data copies. We don’t stop there, but that’s where we always start.

Next we look at what special requirements a particular industry may have. Take the financial industry, banks. Banks hold a great deal of data important to individual, commercial and international economic interests. Like so many large enterprises, bank procedures for protecting that data have typically included multiple data centers, multiple business divisions, multiple protection strategies and multiple sets of data copies. In essence, they do lots of backup. And a need to control their data, especially in response to recent economic upheavals, has also multiplied the regulations and oversight protocols governing bank data management and control.

iStock_000020632931_MediumAs you might expect, banks and financial institutions of all types have been keenly interested in how Actifio can help in controlling and better managing their backup data. They immediately see how all their complex and expensive backup protocols can be greatly simplified and streamlined. They get the benefits created in reduction of copies through data virtualization. They understand the Actifio value propositions that reduce infrastructure, streamline application development and tighten data control.

Regulations – Demonstrating Proof

Recently, a new benefit has become obvious that is of unique and crucial interest to banks and large financial institutions of all types. It’s one of those “cascading benefits” that emerge as we collaborate with our customers to advance industry-specific use cases. For banks, that means contending with the stress of “Stress Tests”.

After the subprime mortgage crisis and the global recession that followed, new regulations increased scrutiny of every large financial institution. Dodd-Frank in the US and Basel III with 27 participating countries have created specific procedures to simulate and analyze the capability of a given financial institution to deal with an economic crisis. In addition, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund conduct tests on institutions under their supervision. They pose hypotheticals about changes in unemployment, interest rates, the price of oil and more. The point is to understand how well an institution will weather a financial storm. The challenge is even greater for International banks that must answer to the variations of multiple stress-test regimes.

Few would dispute the wisdom of creating financial stability. But banks are in business to create profits too. With all their merit, stress tests create headaches. (One senior bank executive called them “nightmares”.) That is in part because the scenarios are continually changing.

Under Dodd-Frank, Federal Reserve Regulators supervise an annual stress test of every financial institution holding more than $10B in assets. In addition banks must run two self-supervised tests. The Fed creates scenarios to measure a banks’ ability to withstand simulated adverse conditions. To conduct the tests, banks must create mission critical application environments as they looked at a particular point in time.

These are not simple or inexpensive propositions. The scenarios change. They require experienced staff, sophisticated infrastructure and careful execution. That’s the logistical nightmare. It’s also where they are discovering a very rewarding utilization of Actifio.

Initial bank deployments of Actifio have focused primarily on backup, data protection, copy reduction and accelerated application development. Now banks are discovering they can add stress testing to the list. They can configure point-in-time images of critical applications to stretch backward and accommodate stress scenarios even when scenario details are not yet known. It’s simple to set up and it comes without a storage tax.

The benefits of Actifio to help ease stress test stress are relevant beyond Dodd-Frank and Basel III. They demonstrate a level of agility in data management that applies to a diversity of circumstances. Enterprises across the spectrum want adaptability for unforeseen situations. Nearly every industry can face unanticipated adjustments to new sets of rules and new business methods. Actifio’s functional flexibility and data virtualization can help sharpen their competitive edge.

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