Apex talks to Amy Nichols, Head of Technology Integrity Group, Chief Technology Organization at Wells Fargo Technology, Wells Fargo & Company. Currently she is driving oversight for key areas of control including Cloud, Segregation of Duties and Secure Development. Amy shares valuable insight into her own strategies and best practices for seamlessly moving into the cloud.
Q: Where are you on the journey to utilizing hybrid cloud and devops and what challenges are you facing?
A: Both moving to the Cloud and DevOps can be strategic journeys in their own right, but together are powerful, and certainly leveraging DevOps to move to Cloud can be a huge enabler. Ultimately, both aspects come down to a specific culture change within the organization to move to a faster way of developing and delivering value into the production environments. At Wells Fargo, the journey is underway with success milestones behind us. However, as with any large institution that has a fair amount of legacy technology, the evolution will take multiple years.
Key elements for consideration are:
1. Pragmatic Strategy aligned with Business Objectives
Before moving to a Cloud Strategy, the organization top down needs to define the risk appetite and approach for the business capabilities, and more specifically, business data for hosting off premise.
2. Control Framework
All the existing processes for applications, network, infrastructure, etc. should be evaluated for hosting implications. Additionally, the concept of ephemeral assets and the control environment for short lived instances of executables needs to be evaluated and understood.
3. Clear Deliverables and Outcomes
Depending on if your organization is largely created with new constructs, or if the organization has legacy monolithic structures, it could take months, or many years to reach the target state. Leveraging the strategy, create interim deliverables to ensure that the organization has time to refine processes and move forward iteratively towards the target state.
4. Education and Training
Skilled resources can drive the transition with greater success, but training all areas of the organization on new practices and concepts is critical. This also goes for listening to where resources have questions and tailoring different types of training and/or education to different areas of the organization (business or tech).
While there are many great Cloud providers in the market, they have different offerings, price-points, and alignment or partnership approaches. A matrix of what is most valuable to your organization should be created, and vendors assessed based on the value grid. Additionally, choosing multiple vendors to pilot with can give you valuable insight. Finally, choosing more than one vendor for full implementation can provide the ability for greater flexibility if the business and financial model allows.
6. Agile and DevOps
And finally, not to be forgotten, to be able to take advantage of DevOps, an Agile approach to delivery is a must. The development organization needs to be re-educated to understand backlogs, user stories, quick delivery of business value, and the objective of fail-fast. The principles of Agile are varied and can be implemented for success in any shop, but become a must for a DevOps transformation.
No two organizations are the same, neither are the transformations, but these six foundational areas are key to success for both Cloud as well as DevOps.
Q: What factor should you consider before implementing a Cloud strategy?
A: Each organization should address it’s own business strategy for technology before just embarking on either a public or a private cloud approach. Based on the organization’s scale, business objective and risk appetite (including regulatory oversight), these all create factors that lead into objectives that have to factor into the approach. Do not just move to cloud or a virtualization strategy because others are…it needs to be aligned and embedded into the business playbook.
Q: Is there cost savings with moving to a Cloud strategy?
A: Similar to answers for the considerations, it depends on what strengths you have in your organization today (i.e. do you have data centers that are strategically placed?) on whether or not the expense to move makes sense. But let’s be clear, virtualization and Cloud can be a primary cost savings, but it needs to be factored in with other factors that are particular to your own organization. Objectively defining current costs for technology delivery alongside all the costs of transforming to new environments, tools and processes need to be reviewed side by side before making a large-scale commitment to any organizational change, including Cloud.
Q: How does a Cloud strategy align to the Data Strategy?
A: The two are related and can support business decisions for one another. Despite having very secure and solid methods for providing access to data within the Cloud, there is always additional risk as confidential or sensitive information is in any location – Cloud, 3rd Party Data Center and/or Internal Data Center (private Cloud included). It just adds complexity if data has to travel to multiple locations and/or processes, including crossing through different vendors or products. All of this should be considered together – where data is accessed, manipulated and ultimately stored all factor into how Cloud is approached.
Q: What are the values of using an External Cloud Vendor?
A: Besides that you can offload (i.e. outsource) tech functions to a vendor at a potentially reduced price point, the vendor not only will provide hosting capabilities, but other services that enable faster development that go well beyond traditional hosting/storage vendors. Each vendor offers different services and different ways to approach and align to your company’s needs. These additional capabilities should also be reviewed for extension of other development or technology goals. Finally, as many other companies are taking advantage of vendors in this area, the growth in this space is tremendous, with all the lessons learned being passed along to future customers.
Amy Nichols – Head of Technology Integrity Group, Chief Technology Organization at Wells Fargo Technology, Wells Fargo & Company
Amy Nichols is head of the Head of Technology Integrity Group, a key area within Wells Fargo Technology. Wells Fargo has one of the world’s largest and most innovative information technology groups with more than 20,000 talented team members who help keep Wells Fargo at the forefront of America’s diversified financial services companies.
Amy is responsible for providing strategic thought leadership to critical major initiatives. Currently she is driving oversight for key areas of control including Cloud, Segregation of Duties and Secure Development. This also includes improvements to implement cybersecurity requirements into the full application portfolio.
She previously served as Command Center leader for the Technology Cybersecurity Program, which had oversight for areas of improvements across many disclipements including Asset Management, Network Perimeter Controls, Identity and Access Mgmtm and Cybersecurity Risk Practices.
Amy also headed the legacy Information Services (IS) Strategic Initiatives Office and served in leadership roles spanning Wells Fargo’s lines of business, specifically related to Cash Management (wires and ACH), Treasury Services (Corporate services, Reporting, Lockbox), Imagining Services, and Shared Services (Asset Management, Program Management, and Systems Development Lifecycle Tools).
Outside of work, Amy supports the local Charlotte tech community in various ways. In 2019, she formed CyberHype Charlotte with four other community leaders, which supports career advancement by using social media and other marketing collaboration for all Charlotte tech meetups and technical sessions across the Charlotte metro area.
Amy graduated from Queens University with a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. Amy also supports Queens in support of the future talent pool through Alumni activities and scholarships.