NetApp’s Monty Zarrouk Talks About How Financial Services Organizations Today Face Unique IT Challenges

Recently we sat down with Monty Zarrouk, Senior Solutions Marketing Manager at NetApp to talk about how financial services organizations today face unique IT challenges resulting from continued data growth and regulations.

There is a lot of discussion in the IT world regarding the transition happening within customers to support escalating data growth and evolving business requirements. These changes are putting increased pressure on IT to transform itself. Are you hearing the same conversation in financial services?

Monty Zarrouk: From a business standpoint, financial services customers face challenges similar to those experienced by other sectors, with some exceptions. For example, they face exponential data growth, increased competition, and fluctuating customer demands. They also have budget constraints that challenge them to think differently about how to affect business with IT today. However, the major differentiator is the regulations. The financial services industry faces increased pressure from a wide range of regulations. They must keep customer data accurate, secure, and accessible, while staying compliant with Sarbanes-Oxley and MiFID.

Financial services is a broad sector. Can you give some specifics as to what these organizations consist of and how their needs might differ?


  • Banking - Banking institutions face new regulations, increased use of mobile apps and social media, more customer-centric banking, and changing business models. IT underlies the risk management, real-time data analytics, and cloud computing solutions that banks need. They have to manage risk, deliver customer-centric services, and develop new products while preserving budgets.
  • Financial markets - Investors and traders need simplified, scalable IT solutions to compete on a global scale. IT delivers the high-performance computing, big data analytics, and flash-based performance required to model, analyze, assess risk, and achieve regulatory compliance in real time. As new trading and investment regulations increase data complexity and volume, high-performance solutions help them maintain compliance 
  • Insurance - Fast-moving regulatory environments and customer demands are forcing insurance companies to improve their analytical models to better compute risks and determine profitable cost structures. Data management technologies can give insurance firms a competitive edge. Insurance firms process huge volumes of data, whether it’s looking at natural disaster trends over the past 200 years, performing complex demographic analyses, or creating predictive models for risk.

How does NetApp help financial services companies? What makes NetApp valuable to this industry?

MZ: The NetApp® portfolio of data management solutions can help financial firms adapt more quickly to their changing environments. We help them manage their data seamlessly across hybrid scenarios, simplify operations, provide efficient data storage, protect data at scale, and reduce time to market for new applications. Our solutions can help financial services customers manage risk, create new services for clients quickly, and/or deal with complex industry regulations. In fact, more than 9,000 financial services firms worldwide rely on NetApp.

Cloud tends to be a hot topic across many industries but has unique considerations for financial services organizations. Can you share some perspective? Specifically, how does the hybrid cloud benefit the financial services industry?

MZ: Financial services firms need to maintain strict control of their data, wherever it resides. To implement a solid hybrid solution in the financial services world requires a way to safely extend the “digital walls” because regulation stipulates that data cannot leave the premises of the firm. But what “premises” means is something IT leaders are continuing to grasp. More important, financial services firms need a unified data architecture that reduces complexity and connects disparate environments, making all of their data available everywhere.

NetApp, of course, has a broad range of options to help customers manage their data in the cloud. In general, NetApp helps customers achieve seamless data management across private and public cloud resources, including hyperscale cloud providers, with our universal data platform based on NetApp clustered Data ONTAP®.

Can you share some examples of financial services organizations with which NetApp is working? Can you give some specifics around the business impact NetApp has achieved for these organizations?

MZ: Financial services organizations often do not get enough credit for some of the innovation they achieve with IT due to some of the strict regulations and customer challenges they face. Here are some examples that are quite compelling:

  • ING DIRECT - Often referred to as “the world’s leading direct savings bank” and owned by the global ING Group, ING Direct accelerated time to market for new products and services by implementing a fully integrated testing and development architecture, including hardware, software, and professional services. ING Direct built private cloud solutions built on NetApp and Microsoft. With its Microsoft® private cloud solution, built on Cisco® and NetApp FlexPod® infrastructure, it reduced environment provisioning from 12 weeks to 10 minutes, improving developer productivity and business agility. Through the “bank in a box” private cloud solution, ING Direct is able to provision complete environments, accelerating time to market for new ideas.
  • Suncorp - A global US$15B revenue company, Suncorp set a goal that it did not want to measure itself against other insurers or other banks. Suncorp used a private cloud built on Cisco and NetApp FlexPod infrastructure to develop and deliver product and service applications more quickly and respond to customer demands quickly, and as a result it set people's expectations higher. In fact, Suncorp spent 30% less on IT and sped up innovation everywhere. 

Follow NetApp on Twitter, including conversations around the company’s Financial Services Forum, June 25, 2014, in New York, using #NetAppFinServ.