ABA Banking Journal - September 2008 - (Page 50)
Tech topics Will IT of the future have its feet firmly planted in the “Cloud”? Webnotes detailing features of Amazon’s web services, conceded to be the earliest major adopter of the cloud concept. Google is offering essentially the same shared use of its data centers with hundreds of thousands of integrated computers. IBM offers arrays of computers for internal or external computing clouds. The maiden announcement of its “Blue Cloud” system late last year was for enterprise applications in Shanghai. Amazon, IBM, and Google systems use Linux open source software. De-hazing the “cloud” OK, so cloud computing is the Next Big Thing. But what is it, exactly? Insiders choke on “exactly.” For example, will there be one “cloud” or many? Is it just right for large enterprises eager to get their hands on the power of those thousands of computers? Or is it a competitive dream about to come true for small startups eager to cash in on the promise of virtually zero time to market and who look forward to boasting, “Look, Ma, no IT department.” One common metaphor for cloud computing is that it is a new kind of public utility. Others say it’s the upgraded reincarnation of WEBNOTES continued on p.52 Y es, says Google CEO Eric Schmidt. “Cloud computing is the story of our lifetime. Eventually all devices will be on the network,” he told an audience of software developers at a conference of IBM’s business partners. Upstart Google and old-line IBM are forging an alliance to alloy their pioneering traditions in software and hardware in the cause of revolutionizing the acquisition and delivery of information technology. Gartner, which has studied and issued technical notes on the state of the concept, defines cloud computing as “a style of computing where massively scalable IT-enabled capabilities are delivered ‘as a service’ to external customers using internet technologies.” Basically, the hardware is pooled together and shared by all. Microsoft, widely viewed as an arch competitor to both Google and IBM, has also joined the cause with systems for bringing cloud computing to the desktop. Addressing a technical audience last June, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates outlined his vision of applying massive web-based computing power to enterprise software as a service: “We’re taking everything we do at the server level, and saying that we will have a service that mirrors that exactly. . . For SQL, we’ll have SQL Server Data Services, and so you can connect up, build the database. It will be hosted in our cloud with the big, big data center, and geo-distributed automatically. Today we have, in our data center, many hundreds of thousands of servers, and in the future we’ll have many millions of those servers.” This lets Microsoft become “very radical” in thinking about the kinds of software products it can offer, Gates adds. Already Google, IBM, and Amazon are doing just that. “The robust computing platform that has been built and refined over the years by Amazon is now available to anyone, anywhere, who has access to the internet,” is how Prabhakar Chaganti, chief technical officer of Ylastic, puts it in a multipart series Mobile: a channel too big to ignore continued from p.48 including remittances, person-to-person payments, merchant-related services. Those will be revenue sources for the bank. How are analytics actually used? Here’s an example. You walk into a Best Buy and decide to purchase a plasma flat panel television. And, you decide to use your debit card, as so many people do these days, even for big-ticket items. The bank runs a series of analytic assessments on you in real-time, including a pull of your FICO score. The bank sees that you are a good customer with a car loan, savings, and checking account. They want to retain you. What better way, than, to call your mobile, right in the store, and offer you an alternative for payment? They ask you, would you like to put this purchase on a card instead and pay in four interestfree payments? That’s one sort of scenario that would be useful for mobile. Would you need to be wireless application protocol-enabled to do that or could you 50 SEPTEMBER 2008/ABA BANKING JOURNAL use a text message? You could use a text message. There are banks that do similar sorts of real-term multi-channel plays in fraud alert scenarios. Here, you would be using the analytics and the call center’s outbound messaging in order to make that offer. By the way, in Spain, where a bank has been in production with this for about six months, the customer satisfaction scores have just gone through the roof. This is an area with exciting potential. You presented at this summer’s Mobile Conference in Las Vegas. What were some of your findings? I looked at some of the flawed studies that had said consumers weren’t interested in mobile banking, and I offered my own observations, which, in effect refuted those findings. From what I’ve seen of the bank data, consumers are using mobile to check balances and to make account-toaccount funds transfer within the same bank—typically a busy parent refunding a college student’s account. On the other hand, I pointed out the ongoing roadblocks. One of my biggest criticisms is that the telecos are still holding that valuable “real estate” on the browser hostage, forcing banks, and any other third party that would want to provide an application, to work around them. I’ve also been critical of the mobile specialists that tend to offer discrete “point” solutions instead of a more platform, “suite of solutions” approach, although that’s beginning to change. What would the ideal scenario of telcos working with banks look like? If the telcos were cooperating, what you’d see is a bank application that was loaded into the phone with standards around its format and function. It would be easy for the phone owner to find and use and easy for the banks to provision. Today, banks need to support browsers while they also work on downloaded versions of applications. There’s too much duplication of effort. BJ Subscribe at www.ababj.com
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