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Should Google be over the moon with BBVA

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The news that Google has signed BBVA to its enterprise cloud apps looks good on Google's CV and could be a real game-changer for business.

So here's the thing. Spanish bank, BBVA, has agreed to shift its 110,000 staff from its own servers to Google's cloud-based systems. This is certainly a step in the right direction for the banking sector but, more importantly, it’s a really big deal for cloud’s supporters.

Head in the clouds
In terms of how far BBVA is prepared to commit to cloud, early indications are that they’re taking a cautious approach. The bank has stated, publicly at least, that it will only be using Google's Enterprise cloud for internal communication. That’s basically shorthand for e-mail and word-processing systems; the kind of software most staff use on a day-to-day basis, although for the banking sector, this in itself is a major stop forward. They’re not the first corporate to do this, nor even the first financial institution, but they are the first major bank to use public cloud and it’s clearly a big tick in the box for Google's cloud-based enterprise – or business - apps.

It appears that BBVA is looking to the cloud to drive change in the organisation. For its staff, the impact will be significant and they will need to be well prepared for this change in IT culture. Collaboration is certainly a significant benefit, frequently touted by cloud vendors and being heavily emphasised by BBVA themselves. Agility, flexibility and currency are, arguably, the most significant elements that put cloud in the driving seat when it comes to the future of corporate IT and the whole efficiency and effectiveness of business operation.

For the BBVA, enterprise cloud will offer a serious change in the way staff interact with their IT and, consequently, each other. For example, the cool-sounding Google Hangouts or Google Talk, provide options for groups of staff to video conference, share links and upload or amend documents in real time wherever they are and whenever they want.

Most importantly, all of the software required to handle these activities is managed at Google’s end, accessible via a single log-in, or authentication. This is another upside that makes cloud a dynamic tool. Once logged-in, staff can access multiple applications or data sources and be confident that the data and software are the very latest versions. The company’s IT function can roll-out the very latest applications quickly, allowing the bank to say ahead of the game and keep in touch with the internet generation.

Which leaves the one issue, a rapidly diminishing ‘elephant in the room’, which is similar to the dilemma consumers faced over online credit card transactions in the Noughties.

That security thing
Security and compliance are key concerns – to the point of paranoia – with financial and consumer-based organisations. While this is entirely understandable, given the regulation surrounding access, use and transfer of personal data, the IT world has moved on. The ‘show-stopper’ issues raised at the dawning of the cloud era have already been, or are well on the way to being, resolved.

One major step forward that now gives cloud computing its security, is file sharding, which allows the likes of Google to reassure its customers their data is safe. Sharding allows data to be held in small pieces, or shards, on a number of servers. So, even if one server is hacked, the data is incomplete. Thus, when a member of staff downloads data from the cloud, it will be collected and reassembled from a number of different locations.

So, is BBVA's decision a game-changer? In a word, ‘yes’. The scale of the deal and the fact that a bank has turned to a company born out of the internet, rather than a more traditional supplier, is a sign of things to come. Just as the IT and business world sat up and took notice of the pioneers that bought Microsoft instead of IBM, so Google – the living, breathing champion of the internet - is making Microsoft appear like yesterday’s company. While they may return, for the moment it’s Google and the internet revolutionaries that are on Cloud Nine.

The writer is Net.Mentor client Peter Chadha, Chief Executive of DrPete Inc - Independent Strategic Technology Advisers and was first posted on on February 10, 2012 at 11:00

Published 20th February, 2012

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