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Cloud computing drives State Street's transformation

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While investment firms are embracing cloud computing in small portions - a data center here, a trading desk there - very few big name entities are willing to come forward and reveal their cloud computing projects in great detail. Until Chris Perretta, the chief information officer, of buy-side giant State Street sat down with a reporter from Forbes.com.

Here are some insights:

Joe McKendrick: Tell us about State Street's cloud computing initiatives.

Chris Perretta: Our move to cloud computing is part of an overall transformation program that we announced in November 2010. It combines both operational redesign and the concurrent changes in our technology infrastructure to support that.

We take care of trillions of dollars of other peoples' assets. We have enough scale initially to build a private cloud. We designed our cloud as our POD, for 'Processing On Demand' structure.  It fits in our data centers, and we built security framework around it. We have about 40-50 applications on it today, and we're in the process of migrating over 100 applications in process. And all our new development goes on to it.  It's both a processing cloud and a data cloud.

It has been in production for about a year now.  We started with applications that are lower in volume and lower in complexity, but now we have our newest more complex apps running on it. And we're now bringing out some pretty powerful data tools that are also sitting on it. It's our architecture for the future.

JM: What parts of the business are being transformed by cloud?

Perretta: For the general public we say 'cloud,' but we're talking about more than that. We're talking about not only the mechanics of how were going to run our software, but also our whole application development framework.

The 'big kahuna' from a volume perspective is servicing assets for our customers -- fund accounting, pension administration, and the middle-office outsourcing business that we have. We focused our initial clouds activities on the servicing end of our business, because frankly, that's where all the opportunities are.

We're looking at those applications that are part of the services that we deliver -- not HR or internal finance, but how we do mutual funds and fund accounting. Our movement is at that front.  We use cloud as a shorthand; it really is a complete view of the application delivery mechanism, the application frameworks that we use, and our ability to share real core components of our technology environment.  A large chunk of what we do we write, and are realizing a lot of savings, efficiencies and capabilities in sharing new development frameworks across our enterprise, built into our cloud infrastructure. We can really move our development activities a lot faster than we have in the past.  We're also turbo charging our efforts to provide much more data insights for our customers, opposed to just top-level processing than we have done for them in the past.

For more:
-read the entire Q&A here