Microsoft explains why Azure is perfect for financial firms

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Financial companies that want to move work to the cloud have been told by Microsoft that its Azure service complies with the new guidance released by the UK’s top regulator.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) released guidance in July aimed at aiding firms from the financial services sector as they move workloads online – from deciding to outsource and selecting a provider, to monitoring how their data is handled.

While the FCA urged firms to fully explore their options before making a decision, it saw “no fundamental reason why cloud services (including public cloud services) cannot be implemented” and that “using the cloud can provide more flexibility to the service that firms receive, enabling innovation and bringing benefits to firms, their consumers and the wider market”.

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Microsoft welcomed the move in a paper entitled “Enabling Compliance: Microsoft’s approach to the FCA’s finalised cloud guidance”. It said the FCA’s release “has provided an opportunity to further empower those interested in or using Microsoft cloud services, especially those in the legal and compliance community”.  As Brad Smith, Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer, stated in an open letter: “We understand that it is our responsibility to provide tools and information that will enable you to deploy cloud services with the highest confidence that they are safe and compliant.”

The Enabling Compliance paper focuses on responding to each section of the FCA’s guidance and illustrating how Microsoft’s online services meet each section. It can be used to help assess any relevant risks and curates important information related to those services for ease of reference. This includes jurisdiction and geographical locations of its data centres, where customer data is held.

“Your customer data will always be isolated and subject to a standard of protection which is no lower than that required by EU data protection authorities wherever it is stored throughout the world,” Microsoft’s paper states. Data stored in Microsoft’s data centres belongs to the customer, who always has direct access to it, and Microsoft will always apply high levels of security to protect such data.

A tour of Azure

The paper also details Microsoft’s contractual commitments to provide “you, your auditors and your regulators with effective access to information related to the cloud services you are using, as well as to Microsoft’s business premises”.

Guy Dickerson, UK Financial Services Sales Manager at Microsoft, said: “We consistently hear from our customers how important it is to them to understand how as a cloud service provider we can help them manage enterprise risk. The long-awaited FCA cloud guidance has provided us with an opportunity to further support our customers in their reviews and offers a detailed response mapped against the features of our cloud offerings.”

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The FCA saw “no fundamental reason why cloud services (including public cloud services) cannot be implemented”

The importance of companies moving operations to the cloud was laid bare in a recent report from Microsoft that found nearly half of UK bosses believe they have to embrace digital transformation or see their company fail within the next five years.

Digital Transformation: The Age of Innocence, Inertia or Innovation? – one of the most extensive research studies ever conducted into the impact of digital transformation on UK organisations – found that 50% of UK business leaders believe technology will cause at least some disruption in their industry in the next two years.

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