- Successful cloud migration strategies identify the most difficult parts of the shift, and begin their cloud journey by tackling those elements, Allison Perkel, Capital One's vice president of technology, said Wednesday at the Lesbians Who Tech & Allies Debug 2020 Summit.
- The tech leader called on executives heading cloud migrations to "do the hard things first." In Capital One's case, that meant ensuring controls were safe and solid, said Perkel, who joined the bank in October 2019.
- Taking a cue from successful software development, cloud strategies should focus on the most complex parts of the process, allowing space to "make adjustments and changes based on the solutions and answers you get from that problem space," Perkel said.
Cybersecurity concerns were at the heart of initial cloud resistance in the financial sector. As cloud became mainstream and solutions evolved, banks began to saunter down the path of adoption.
After eight years in its cloud migration strategy toward Amazon Web Services, Capital One "just closed" its final data center this year, Perkel said.
But the journey suffered a drawback in July 2019, when a data breach exposed the records of more than 106 million customers in the U.S. and Canada.
In the hack, a former employee of Amazon Web Services gained access to Capital One’s customer data by exploiting a misconfigured web application firewall. About 140,000 Social Security numbers and 80,000 linked bank account numbers to credit card customers were compromised in the breach.
The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency fined the bank $80 million over the incident, which prompted Capital One to remove its chief information security officer. Meanwhile, Amazon Web Services held firm that the onus of the cloud security burden falls on the bank. Lawmakers, though, urged financial regulators to designate the three leading cloud providers — Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud — as systemically important financial market utilities.
However, the breach didn't deter Capital One from staying the course on its cloud strategy, CFO Scott Blackley said in September 2019.
Team leaders can deliver early wins by leveraging the scale and resiliency that the cloud can bring, Perkel said Wednesday.
"As you go on this journey, you're going to find a lot of paths that don't get you to where you want to go," Perkel said. "But you're going to learn from them. Know that that's OK. You're never going to get it right the first time, and what you thought was true at one point, was. But it's not true anymore."
Early cloud adoption helped Capital One during the pandemic by easing stress on tools that enabled remote work, including access to VPNs and collaboration tools, Perkel said.
"Being in a cloud-based company gives you that resiliency," Perkel said. "You have these pieces built in so you can scale all your processes."