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Delphix Partner Spotlight on FWD View

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In our newest partner spotlight, we spoke with James Heath, managing director at FWD View, a DataOps technology company that focuses on bringing solutions to the financial and commodity markets across Europe and South Africa.

Based in London, FWD View is a DataOps technology company that focuses on bringing solutions to the financial and commodity markets across Europe and South Africa. Their client base includes investment banks and hedge funds, as well as commodity trading. In our newest partner spotlight, we spoke with James Heath, managing director at FWD View.

The financial industry is a common bellwether for technology disruption. How are you leading that disruption with DataOps? 

DataOps is a broad term that encompasses multiple aspects of data transformation. Our approach is to help our clients automate the flow, improve the quality of, and reduce the timecycle of data across an organization.

We feel enterprise digital transformation involves a data journey, so our DataOps practice helps our financial customers curate, catalog, organize, manage, secure, and extract value from their data.  We focus on three specific areas for our financial clients: application acceleration, security and compliance, and data portability to achieve specific business outcomes.

What are the ways you’re helping clients transform their data-related workflows?

Our financial clients have legacy technology to deal with, and they not only need new tools, but they also need to transform database delivery processes and development workflows. Our role is to understand and integrate all the tools needed to create new workflows that increase agility and release velocity.

For example, we do a lot of work around the large vendor trading applications, which are monolithic, heavily customized, and complex. About 90 percent of banks globally use vendor trading apps like Murex, Calypso, and Finastra, and they represent business-critical systems. The level of customization and integration means that implementing, upgrading, and maintaining these applications is very expensive in a world that is moving to the cloud and has high demand for environments (particularly at project time). Delphix hits a real sweet spot for our clients as the platform removes the data bottlenecks that make environment/config management, test data management, and data migration a real challenge. 

All of our clients have some form of agile, CI/CD, or DevOps transformation underway and the piece that’s more often left behind is data. We help our clients to integrate Delphix into their existing DevOps toolchain, often redesigning application build processes through a DataOps lens.

Let’s say a client needs an update in their customized accounting module of Murex. This represents millions of transactions and can take 9-12 months to successfully execute the upgrade. In a project like this, most of the issues occur at the integration touch points, and the process creates a huge demand on test environment creation.  

Delphix fits well here because we help our customers progress their workflows to the point where dev and test teams can spin up their own test environments on-demand. With dev/test provisioning on-demand and having self-service control to branch and rewind data sets, we can increase the speed of an upgrade by 30 percent. Even with a small to medium size Murex installation, this can result in $1.5m in savings. An added bonus is the virtual copies significantly reduce storage costs, and banks are keen to avoid additional investment in infrastructure. 

Data security is one of the biggest issues facing businesses today, especially in the financial sector. How are you helping customers address this challenge? 

Data security is right towards the top of almost every CIO’s agenda in the financial markets. Security no longer concerns itself solely with infrastructure, networks, and firewalls. We’re helping our clients build data-centric security models, setting up the toolchain as well as implementing and integrating complementary software. Delphix plays a huge role as it offers our clients the ability to dynamically mask sensitive data. This means our clients are able to maintain high levels of agility without sacrificing security. The capability to rapidly deliver multi-terabyte, end-to-end environments that are masked with referential integrity is a real game-changer, particularly as so many of our clients are commencing their journey to the Cloud.

Can you give us an example of how you deliver value to your customers? 

With many years of experience in the financial markets and working on DataOps initiatives, we are in a position to help our clients plan for the future and grow their overarching data strategy.  How can you use data to make better business decisions and more accurately manage risk?  Where is the data needed to achieve these business outcomes? Is it accessible, secure, and portable?  

Our clients are making important business decisions, but nearly 30 percent of their data is “dark,” meaning unusable. Banks have been storing and securing vast amounts of dark data for years (usually for compliance purposes) and failing to organize technology and processes to efficiently use this data for other purposes, such as analytics. We always find it interesting when some of our clients start talking about AI and  robotics, when often they don’t even know what data they’ve got, where it is, who it belongs to, how accessible or secure it is. An enterprise DataOps approach facilitates important initiatives like this.

We help our customers to first discover, catalog, organize, and manage all their data. With this foundation in place, the second step is to institute data governance for access and control.  From here, they are ready to start planning for the future and start talking about what they want to achieve for the business.

In what ways does our partnership benefit customers? 

We work a lot on DevOps and cloud initiatives. Trading applications are rarely cloud-ready. It can cost millions of euros to re-orchestrate a client’s trading app for the cloud but they will realize tremendous benefits by migrating test environments to the cloud. Our guidance is to first move non-production data to the cloud to gain the efficiencies and flexibility inherent in a cloud architecture. Once they demonstrate that they can move and secure data, they are able to create the framework and toolchain for a future move of production data to the cloud.

We also work with our clients to develop a multi-cloud strategy. Delphix provisions masked virtual copies of the production database to test environments to facilitate a DevOps toolchain in the cloud. Delphix fundamentally addresses three core risks that are associated with large scale cloud migration: ensuring and enabling business continuity, avoiding vendor lock-in, and establishing security through the ability to keep huge amounts of data portable and dynamically masked.

What are the services you offer with Delphix? 

FWD View provides professional services that encompass a broad range of capabilities, such as analyzing technical prerequisites, creating a procurement cross charge model, as well as configuration and installation. We build a framework that expedites the sale and installation of the Delphix platform, then continue to drive further adoption and enablement within the account. Really, we manage the end to end process from lead generation, pre-sales support, sales, project, and managed services. Our value comes in the fact that we understand the applications, domain, and core objectives our clients are looking to achieve within the industry.

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