How FINRA and the US Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms Bureau are using cloud

AWS details the work underway with a handful of US government entities.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

The United States Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) this week went live with a new cloud-based audit solution to allow regulators to improve securities market surveillance.

The Consolidated Audit Trail (CAT), hosted on Amazon Web Services (AWS), creates an audit trail of order information for all US equity securities and listed options across US markets and trading venues.

FINRA is authorised by Congress to protect the country's investors and oversees more than 634,000 brokers across the country and analyses billions of daily market events.

Leveraging AWS's storage, compute, database, analytics, and security services, CAT ingests more than 100 billion market events per day, pulling together data from 22 stock exchanges and 1,500 broker dealer firms.

See also: The top cloud providers for government

Making the announcement during the AWS Public Sector keynote at re:Invent on Wednesday in Las Vegas, worldwide public sector vice president Teresa Carlson labelled it a world first.

"FINRA is building the world's largest financial repository on AWS," Carlson said. "FINRA is going to have amazing insights."

The US Securities and Exchange Commission and Self-Regulatory Organizations (SROs) will have access to CAT data for analysis.

FINRA CAT is using Amazon Aurora for its primary database, Amazon Redshift for data warehousing, Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), as well as AWS's security and compliance capabilities to develop the platform.

The organisation is also leveraging AWS security capabilities such as AWS Key Management Service (KMS), Amazon GuardDuty, and AWS CloudTrail.

Carlson also touched on work underway on AWS by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). She said the ATF knew it would benefit from moving to cloud.

Instead of a one-by-one approach, Carlson said the ATF tackled the entire data tier of every application it had, and built out an AWS enterprise environment to host all ATF apps.

The Bureau then migrated all development, test, and production data into the cloud and secured full security approval to operate.

"Today, ATF is all-in with AWS and deploying updated applications and systems on AWS," Carlson said.

ATF retired more than 20 years of technical debt.

According to Carlson, legacy IT and retiring technical debt are the biggest blockers for government and enterprsies shifting to the cloud.

"Retiring technical debt is a really big step forward for customers like ATF," she said.

Meanwhile, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is using AWS GovCloud (US) to migrate critical workloads to help veterans get quicker and easier access to care.

"Most consultants will tell you to start small in your project and build from there. We went the other way and moved one of our biggest systems to the cloud," director of the enterprise cloud solutions office at the VA David Catanoso said.

VA migrated its Veterans Benefits Management System, which is a system with more than 4,000 simultaneous users and 800 million documents, to the cloud without disruption to users, Carlson explained.

Carlson also launched AWS Open Government Solutions, a catalogue of open source code, standards, and assets that have been developed and implemented by governments around the world.

She has touted that it connects the dots between governments and the solutions they need thereby enabling them to quickly find solutions to problems that have already been solved by others.

Asha Barbaschow travelled to re:Invent as a guest of AWS.


Editorial standards