There is little room for monoliths in a world of rapid change.
That’s one clear takeaway from the technology revamp Merrill Corporation has undertaken, which was the subject of a recent edition of Microsoft’s “Customer Stories.”
And it’s also why Merrill has chosen to earnestly embrace a cloud-based technology posture that enables it to compete more nimbly, efficiently and securely in a fast-moving, ever-shifting environment.
“A lot of companies are dabbling in the cloud,” said Chief Information Officer Brad Smuland, but Merrill has gone further by using cloud computing to support its most visible, industry-leading platforms, where clients securely manage their sensitive documents and regulatory disclosures.
Under the new architecture, the process of updating Merrill’s key software platforms and systems has in some cases gone from years -- under the old “monolithic” applications -- to just weeks. For example, projects compiling and replicating databases once could took many months. That can now be done in a fraction of the time, Smuland said.
The agility provided by the Microsoft Azure cloud platform is complemented by its ironclad security, a must-have for Merrill’s clients who depend on the company’s platforms to protect the confidentiality of their content, communications and disclosure needs.
“My comfort level with Microsoft’s security comes from how much they invest,” Smuland said, noting the software giant spends more than $1 billion a year on cybersecurity and data protection. “I feel like Microsoft is spending that to protect my stuff.” That being said, “it doesn’t mean we blindly trust without our own level of validation and follow-through,” he added. “We trust and we verify.”
Merrill’s devotion to cloud-based software solutions has it committed to phasing out all data centers within 18 months, Smuland said, after operating as many as 12 around the world.
The company eliminated a "very significant" data center this year in Asia, taking out a layer of complexity and $1 million in expenses, he explained, replaced by improved speed, scale and security. “Better service for less cost. It’s a good combination.”
While the tech transformation allows Merrill to react faster and more efficiently at a lower cost, it’s all aimed at continuing to provide clients with best-in-class products and service.
“Merrill is not abandoning its service roots, it’s doubling down on the technology behind it,” Smuland said. “It’s an exciting time.”
View the recent article in CIO magazine..