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ANZ Bank CIO still wary of cloud

Cloud computing more suitable for small and midsize businesses than for large financial institutions, and vendors need to tailor products to make them relevant for large organizations, says ANZ Bank's IT head.

Anne Weatherston, ANZ Bank's chief information officer, appears to have lost faith in the use of cloud computing in the financial sector following comments at a CEDA event in Sydney on Thursday.

Weatherston told event attendees that cloud computing isn't as well suited to large financial institutions as it is to small- and midsize organizations.

"Cloud is great for small and [midsize] businesses, but I don't think it's completely relevant for large, complex banks at this point in time on a large scale. A lot because the industry is still evolving, but I think that it's [also] because, for the regulators, the jury is still out," she said, adding that vendors need to take their offerings to the next level to make them relevant to large enterprises.

Any bank that decides to use cloud computing puts itself at odds with key industry regulator, the Australian Prudential Regulation Association (APRA), a situation that Weatherston is all too familiar with. She and her insurance technology team were told by APRA in no uncertain terms recently that a foray into cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) put the regulator on edge.

At the time, Weatherston said that "cloud for banks is very difficult because the regulators are not comfortable with cloud. We have actually dabbled a little bit in external cloud here in our insurance business, where we used the [customer relationship management] solution from Salesforce.com, but when we explored the possibility of using that on a wider basis, the regulators were nervous about it."

Yet Weatherston said that the bank would still continue towards the cloud in small steps. It's currently moving forward with its efforts to virtualize the bank's infrastructure, she added.

Weatherston also took a moment to defend ANZ Bank's IT outsourcing efforts at the event, saying that the placement of staff in Bangalore supports roll-outs of technology in Asia for the bank's super-regional strategy.

"Most of our recent Asia platforms that we've rolled out have all been designed and built from Bangalore, so they're part of our IT shop. Our model for IT services within ANZ is to create a number of delivery service centers, and the reason for that is that we need to put IT in a position where we can get skills for the local business and [hire] where the skills matter."

Hiring in India also sidestepped the skills shortage, she said.

"There is a global skills shortage of good quality IT people and moving across geographies allows us to compensate for that. To be blunt, there aren't thousands of available, qualified IT people sitting in Melbourne. We can move work between our different centers," she said.

This article was first posted on ZDNet Australia.