29 Sep 2016

An Offering Like No Other

Grigoriy Milis and Michael Asher of RFA speak to HFMWeek about their hybrid cloud offering and how to fully utilise their innovative services.

HFMWeek (HFM): What is your hybrid cloud offering?

Grigoriy Milis (GM): Our hybrid cloud offering, the RFA Multi-Cloud, effectively expands our mature, private cloud infrastructure by enabling the secure addition of various public cloud services to it; this development allows for the seamless plug-in of services offered by providers such as Amazon and Microsoft, and essentially, extends all of our data centres to the public cloud. There are two key factors here:

  1. As designed, the integrated public cloud services will be subject to the same level of security and compliance controls that are currently provided with our private cloud platform.
  2. It future-proofs our private cloud platform by enabling clients to, based on suitability for their specific requirements, seamlessly and interchangeably place their workloads either on the private cloud or a public platform. .

HFM: How does it differentiate from other cloud offerings? What are the key attractions?

GM: First, it is important to note that there are not many service providers that have yet built this type of hybrid platform. Specifically, one of the biggest differentiators with our solution is that we are utilising a specialized integration of the latest technologies, including cloud gateways, to substantially improve user experience while connecting to data that resides on either the public or private cloud extensions. In addition, this will run in conjunction with the expansion of security services, previously mostly specific to data located on private cloud platforms, not only to a customer’s office but also to their public cloud environment.

HFM: How has your cloud offering developed over the past 24 months?

GM: The most significant developments are that we continue to enhance our platform based on the latest advancements in technology. Today we have started to offer various services that haven’t been offered previously. Some of these services relate specifically to cyber-security and performance improvements, and are available on both the private and public cloud. Furthermore, we have started to utilise software-defined WAN  systems in order to substantially improve economics and stability associated with connectivity to the cloud  platforms. Cloud  gateways are a sector which we view as being crucial. Historically, they were  reserved for usage by large enterprise companies. We have managed to negotiate partnered service agreements with some of the main cloud gateway manufacturers, thereby enabling us to introduce this type of service to our SMB and mid-market clients.

Michael Asher (MA): Public cloud adoption is growing steadily, and, with the word “public,” there are often concerns for businesses about security of the solution. Security is a topic which is usually at the forefront of our industry, as the safety of client data/information is of the highest priority. Often when you see public cloud services in the headlines, it is for a security lapse or issues.. Many  corporations have found themselves at the centre of this debate as information is shared, either on purpose or accidentally, without the end user’s knowledge. We understand these concerns, and have taken mitigating steps by extending our security protections to the hybrid offering; for this situation, as an example, we’ve partnered with a firm whose solution will enable us to provide a layer of encryption on top of whatever the chosen public cloud solution provider is offering. In a sense, you have double the security, and RFA or the client is holding the key to that security.

GM: To elaborate on this, one of the challenges for the public cloud has always been, not necessarily  security per se, but rather who holds the encryption  keys. Whether or not the public cloud provider has access to encryption keys  t and has a theoretical ability to decrypt  the data. Ultimately, this additional layer of encryption will take the encryption keys out of the public cloud provider’s hands and addresses this type of concern.

HFM: How successful is your hybrid cloud offering? What kind of interest have you seen?

GM: We have seen a great amount of interest in the offering, especially because of the introduction of gateway-based public cloud connectivity. In addition to bringing data to the offices in a manner that enhances performance and economics, the offering also solves a lot of customer compliance requirements that were previously challenging or carried further cost to address. Two issues that the offering has helped provide solutions for are: one, a cost-effective option for long-term data retention, and; two, the ability to recover quickly in the event of ransomware data corruption. This offering actually improves the economics of the solution, and in combination generates a very substantial amount of interest from companies.

If you look today at what is going in IT operations in general, not only in the hedge fund space, companies are looking for an environment where it is possible to, without reducing their services profile or levels, replace large capital investments in technology with predictable operating expenditures. The platforms and solutions that were created fit very nicely into this type of demand.

MA: When we deal with larger clients for example, those clients will have a significant presence on our private cloud offering because of its purpose-built security controls. At the same time, if you are looking at how technology will develop  the future, you understand that the public cloud will continue to gain wider adoption and will become the more mature product; it will at some point have offerings specifically designed for heavily-regulated industries, such as the financial segment, as well. When we talk about the larger firms, the idea is that they would like to see a roadmap to future-proof their technology and understand that there will be a point in time when they will migrate some or part of their implementation from the private cloud deployments to public cloud environments. We started this research two years ago, ultimately trying to figure out how it would help our clients future-proof their data centres. The initial push was a move from private data centres to the public cloud offering; now the idea is that you will extend the existing environment to a public cloud where the customer can scale securely at a moment’s notice, and that ability to scale, burst or contract will allow them to reduce associated capital and operational expenditures.

For smaller firms it is beneficial because cost is significantly lower when utilising public resources. In regards to mid-market firms, it is benefitting them as well because the add-on features were previously not available at this price range, such as the value add ability to securely access your data from any location or device. So, if you open up an office in a different region, whether Europe or Asia, you can extend the private cloud environment to a public cloud based locally in their geographical location and in a very short timeframe.

GM: The public cloud is currently where we are seeing the main innovation in technology. . This is where the technology is headed and the introduction of the hybrid cloud platform not only allows us to start offering new innovation and services to our clients as soon as they become mature, but also allows us to offer it without substantially disrupting the user experience.

HFM: How do you plan to further advance your offering?

GM: We aim to continue to adapt various services that are available on the public cloud platform today, as well as those that will be available in the future. Additionally, we will continue to add various security services that typically require direct purchasing in order to be compliant. These services will be ported  to our public and private cloud platforms in order to completely eliminate the technology footprint that customers would need to have in their offices in a traditional deployment.

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