Nov 30 2022

AWS re:Invent 2022: Observability Enables Resilience in the Cloud

Customers have high expectations of financial institutions when it comes to the privacy and security of their data. Here’s one way to meet them.

Just as financial institutions are gradually becoming more comfortable moving their data and workloads to the cloud, government regulators are stepping in to propose additional protections to safeguard consumer data.

At the confluence of these events, Amazon Web Services CEO Adam Selipsky delivered a keynote address Nov. 29 at AWS re:Invent touting the cloud’s ability to address privacy and security needs while delivering agility and scalability. The crucial element that melds these seemingly competing demands is observability.

“Customers constantly tell us that this is what they need — the ability to gain insights across vast and complex troves of data, the confidence to go to unfathomable depths, knowing that you’re secure enough to withstand the pressure and have the ability to see what’s around you,” Selipsky said.

“We are so passionate about what we do at AWS because we see what you are doing with the cloud,” he continued. “Enterprises look to the cloud to innovate in ways they haven’t been able to do before. Entrepreneurs bring their dreams to the cloud and change the future. Governments rely on the cloud to provide critical services to constituents. Financial services and pharmaceuticals, researchers and retailers, freight carriers, phone carriers, NGOs, energy firms, entertainment studios, the list goes on and on.”

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AWS Provides Cloud Security for Its Users’ Data

Consumers are particularly concerned about the security of their financial data, and AWS works with financial organizations to ensure the observability, security and resilience of the data they acquire. “It’s almost impossible to comprehend how much data there is. But just as remarkable is how fast it’s growing,” Selipsky said. “Analysts predict that in the next five years, we’re going to create more than double the amount of data produced since the dawn of the digital age. Managing the scale and the growth of that data is supposed to be a huge challenge and an opportunity for every organization.”

Selipsky cited the Options Clearing Corp. “The OCC serves as the central clearing warehouse for all listed equity options traded in the United States. It’s part of the central nervous system of the financial markets,” he said, noting that the organization is currently moving its mission-critical operations to the cloud.

“Working with data is tricky. Just as the vastness and complexity of space means you can’t explore it with just one technology, the same is true for data,” Selipsky explained. “You need a complete set of tools that accounts for the scale and the variety of the data and the many purposes for which you want to use it.”

Data needs to be integrated even when it’s spread across many locations to allow for more accurate understanding and predictions. “You need governance so that your teams can explore and innovate while always making sure that your data is safe and secure,” he said. “And you need to be able to visualize data in a way that makes it fast and easy to discover and share insights. You need to do all of these things to explore the vast complexity of your data and to generate insights for your business.”

DISCOVER: Learn how cloud security posture management is keeping financial data safe in the cloud. 

What Is a Clean Room, and How Can It Make Data More Secure?

One common problem facing financial services is collaborating on shared data sets while still protecting the underlying raw data. Selipsky noted, “Data clean rooms — protected environments where multiple parties can analyze combined data without ever exposing the broad data — have emerged as a solution.”

He said clean rooms can be hard to build and take months to develop. “Once you’ve built a clean room, you have to continuously update the data, all the while meeting requests for new collaborators and data types.”

During the keynote, Selipsky announced AWS Clean Rooms, describing it as “a new service that helps companies and their business partners to securely analyze and collaborate on data sets without sharing or revealing the underlying data.”

“By analyzing your combined data sets, you can generate insights to improve your understanding of your own customers, and AWS Clean Rooms includes cryptographic computing tools that let you keep your data encrypted even as queries are processed,” he said.

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Observability Brings About Resilience in the Cloud

In addition to the agility and scalability cloud computing offers, adopters are looking for resilience. In a separate leadership session titled, “Building Modern Apps: Architecting for Observability and Resilience,” Francessca Vasquez, vice president of customer experience and technology at AWS, explained the concept this way: “Resilience refers to the ability for workloads or your applications or your products, your business processes, to respond and quickly recover from failure. A workload can be as simple as a single application within a single AWS account, or it might be a set of products that span multiple accounts.”

Kim Weiland, vice president of enterprise operations at the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, explained why resilience is essential. “Operations needs to be resilient and automated. It also needs to be performant, and you have to have that enterprise observability to ensure all of those are balanced,” she said. “To manage this is a balancing act between innovation, optimization and adoption.”

Weiland said observability enables an organization to perform that balancing act. But observability is about much more than monitoring. It involves compliance, records management, policy enforcement, oversight, security logging and many

As Shaown Nandi, solutions architect and customer solutions leader for AWS, put it during the session, “Resilience is not a one-and-done thing or a checklist project. You must continuously invest in improving your resilience.”

EXPLORE: Find out how managed services can help financial services firms thrive.

Building Resilience with Managed Services

Will Meyer, managing vice president of engineering for cloud and network services at Capital One, joined the conversation to share his experiences in making his company’s data more resilient. “Our success is based on our ability to process data and generate insight that we can use to help our customers financially; for example, by giving them credit,” he said. “So, when you think about it, being resilient to external change and managing risk are baked into our business model, not just our tech stacks.”

Meyer explained that Capital One has intentionally invested in managed services. “Generally, all of our application teams have a lot of ownership of their infrastructure, and that has a bunch of benefits that I think we all understand. It also makes some pretty big asks of those teams: Be cost-efficient, be resilient, patch your vulnerabilities.” It’s not quite the simplicity that the cloud promised, which is why he envisions Capital One moving toward serverless computing.

“We want to move teams up the stack. We want to lean into the shared responsibility model and basically get AWS to do as much work as possible on our own resilience. There is some potential risk with that operationally, sure. But I think we see the resilience of the managed services to be good and improving,” Meyer said.

Keep this page bookmarked for articles and videos from the event and follow us on Twitter @BizTechMagazine and the official conference Twitter feed, @AWSreInvent.

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