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Prioritizing Financial Service Workloads for Migration to AWS Cloud


Melissa Siekierski
Partner, Financial Services, Digital and Technology Innovation, PwC US
Ross Chernick
Senior Manager, PwC US
Ritesh Biswas
Director, PwC US
Ajay Kohli
Director, PwC US

Why Are Financial Services Organizations Experiencing Roadblocks During Migration?

Many Financial Service organizations are motivated to achieve the attractive business and technology benefits of cloud. However, with all the knowledge publicly available, cloud migrations more often than not, stall in their early stages due to a variety of factors including the following:

  • Poor Planning - Executing a migration without detailed exhaustive planning supported by research and coordination throughout the organizations can lead to failure
  • Outdated Skills and Operating Model - Moving to the cloud requires a major organizational transformation such as upskilling IT resources and adapting to a new way of working
  • Lack of Partnership - Going at it yourself without a team with experience and knowledge of common pitfalls can create unnecessary challenges that otherwise could easily be avoided
  • Insufficient buy-in - Without leadership commitment or actively engaged leadership well-defined goals, and an appropriate budget, the migration can quickly face complexities

To Accelerate Migration Velocity, Prioritize Your Workloads!

To avoid these common migration pitfalls, it is crucial for Financial Service organizations to continually refine and re-prioritize their migration goals based on where they can find the most success. With our collective cloud experience in over 150 countries, PwC has helped clients across industries develop their cloud strategy and execute their migrations. In our experience, a cohesive migration strategy at the on-set, with the agility to re-prioritize when needed, can help accelerate migration velocity, guard against common pitfalls, and enable organizations to take advantage of cloud benefits sooner.

As part of this strategy, we identify migration prioritization techniques to better plan and accelerate migration velocity. These levers are also important to confirm that the transition cost results in both near and long term CapEx and OpEx savings.

Multi-colored wheel diagram listing 5 considerations to migration

5 Prioritization Considerations for a Smoother Cloud Migration

1.  Licensing, Maintenance, and Support Contracts   

Current software licenses or maintenance and support contracts held by Financial Service organizations can influence the timeline to migrate a workload to the cloud. An inventory of expiring licenses and contracts should be collected and analyzed to determine which ones can provide business value through termination. Licenses that will not be renewed, perhaps because of legacy on premise hardware or software, should be prioritized to be migrated to Cloud. Oftentimes we have seen licensing drive innovation of new business and technology capabilities such as open source technology (e.g., Kubernetes, Linux, Redis) or cloud native services (e.g., Aurora, Sagemaker, Redshift) allowing organizations to save money on recurring legacy license costs. Tools such as AWS License Manager can be utilized to easily manage and track your organization’s licenses centrally from software vendors in AWS as well as on premise.

2. Technology Dependencies 

Dependency mapping exercises are a well established best practice for determining an application’s cloud migration approach. Many Financial Services organizations use discovery tools (e.g., AWS Application Discovery Service) to help automate and identify hidden integrations, usage, behavioral data, and upstream/downstream dependencies of an application. Insights from discovery tools can help identify and prioritize workload migrations. Workloads with low complexity and dependencies should be prioritized first. Data movement within an application across shared underlying hardware should be considered as part of migration planning, especially when decommissioning on premise hardware. 

3. Risk, Regulatory & Compliance

A Financial Services organization should prioritize migrating workloads that do not have to meet regulatory and compliance requirements as these workloads typically require less effort and scrutiny. The next group of low risk applications to migrate are intranet-facing as opposed to internet-facing because of their low risk of external attacks. For the workloads that are required to meet regulatory and compliance requirements (e.g. FFIEC, GDPR, PCI, SOX, etc.) first confirm that a secure and compliant cloud foundational infrastructure environment is built, before migrating workloads into the public cloud. When moving regulatory and compliance workloads additional time may be required to re-architect applications to meet public cloud regulatory and compliance requirements such as enabling HTTPS/SSL, encrypting data at rest/in transit, data retention, etc. Industry leading tools including AWS Security Hub, AWS Config, and AWS Audit Manager can be utilized to automatically assess your cloud environment against industry standards or regulations, helping to simplify the compliance process.

4. Design Patterns

Identifying common workload design patterns is another effective prioritization tactic. Prior to developing a list of design patterns, applications with a lifecycle status of soon to be retiring should be excluded from the population. In addition, any mission critical workloads and associated design patterns should also be deprioritized until later in the migration once most of the lessons learned have been identified. Workloads that share the same design patterns (e.g., three tier architecture) generally follow the same cloud migration approach, such as utilizing an Elastic Load Balancer presentation layer, EC2 web server, and an RDS database layer. We have seen that more than 75% of on premise workloads can be organized into common design patterns and migrated using a repeatable approach. By prioritizing these workloads that have a common design pattern, Financial Service organizations can accelerate cloud adoption and increase the migration velocity.

5. Data Center Hosting Locations

Our last, key lever that can be used to prioritize workloads is determining whether or not to terminate, consolidate, or migrate a data center to the public cloud. Impending data center lease terminations can be a pivotal moment for any Financial Services organization’s cloud strategy. Workloads that are hosted in the data center that’s targeted for termination should be prioritized to move to the cloud first over workloads that will be consolidated to another on premise data center. For workloads that will remain on premise for either low latency, local data processing, data residency, or interdependencies with on premise systems should consider adopting AWS Outposts for a fully managed set of similar AWS services, API’s and tools for a complete hybrid cloud experience. Workloads in data centers that are planned to move to the cloud eliminate many on premise data center limitations through the use of AWS Availability Zones and AWS Regions designed to increase resiliency of your workloads. 

How can PwC help?

By following these considerations we hope to provide others with better insight into how cloud migrations should be prioritized and the common pitfalls to avoid when designing a cloud migration strategy for Financial Service organizations. To learn more about our AWS practice at PwC including recent client success stories, AWS competencies, and cloud thought leadership click here or reach out to Ross Chernick who is one of PwC’s AWS APN Ambassadors.

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