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In today’s fast-paced business landscape, sophisticated software systems fuel the performance of every financial services organisation. Finally, intelligent banking is on the rise.

Given their dependence on technology, it’s established practice to store a company’s business-critical software with a third-party. This strategy helps protect against financial or reputational damage in the event of software failure.

We call this software (or source code) escrow.


Software escrow and security

Security lies at the heart of all software escrow arrangements. It offers a reliable way to protect both parties.

Customers want to protect the investment they’ve made in the software’s procurement, installation and development. Suppliers, on the other hand, must ensure the value of its intellectual property isn’t diluted through misuse.

Under a traditional standard escrow arrangement, all parties agree to place the source code in the vaults of a trusted escrow agent. Security-conscious to the end, any signed agreement typically states when the code can be released, and how it can be used.


Quote: businesses regularly use analytics to identify new revenue streams

Intelligent banking movement

We’re witnessing exciting change in the financial services industry. Traditionally, organisations have hosted and managed software in-house. Now, banking is becoming smarter, with 83% of enterprise workloads predicted to be in the cloud by 2021.

Investments in cloud-enabling technologies is increasing. Support for non-cloud or on premise IT infrastructure, meanwhile, is in decline.

The financial technology (fintech) market has welcomed this rapid uptake. Forecasts peg the compound of annual growth rate at 74.16% between 2019 and 2025, further driven by external customers, internal ambitions, and Open Banking standards.

Powering the intelligent banking movement is a heady mix of cloud computing and analytics: modernising payments is in full swing as companies shift to the cloud.

But we’re also seeing how data alters business practices. Businesses regularly use analytics to identify new revenue streams.

Machine learning is now being deployed to combat financial crime. Technological advances means it can now successfully recognise the difference between fraudulent and genuine patterns of behaviour. In this way alone, an investment in cloud computing and AI offers a significant ROI.

Many modern fintech companies, unhindered by legacy technology, are re-shaping the financial services community. In our cloud-first world, they’re developing innovative customer-centric systems.

However, during this transformation, some in the industry are raising concerns around security, and how to protect business-critical software.

And here we hit a snag.


Differences between traditional and cloud-hosted software escrow

A traditional software escrow arrangement doesn’t work for cloud-hosted services.

Let’s say a customer has been given the source code. Where would they deploy the solution? What would they do about data stored in the cloud? And how would they manage that solution with no technical experience?

There are similarities between the two arrangements, of course – including how and when deposits are to be made, what happens if the deposits are deficient and, most importantly, the trigger events allowing the agent to release the solution to the customer.

The main difference between traditional and cloud-hosted escrow services is what it covers:

  • Providing access to the cloud-hosted applications’ live production environment
  • Replication of the entire solution and customer data in a secure, independently hosted environment
  • Documenting the blueprint of the application environment
  • Transfer of the knowledge needed to deploy and maintain the solution if a release event occurred

Recognising the need for a simple cloud resilience solution, NCC Group’s Escrow-as-a-Service helps organisations create a digitally focused business strategy. This lets them confidently embrace the cloud, knowing they have security, regulatory compliance, and access to cloud-hosted software applications.

Despite these clear benefits, those in the financial sector often view cloud-based software escrow with suspicion. Perhaps that’s understandable for an industry focused on security and trust. But it’s now a necessary skill for any organisation looking to maintain a competitive edge and deliver outstanding customer experience. Cloud computing is a true innovation, not the enemy to it.


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About the author

Lee Corbett, Strategic Partner Recruit Lead at Microsoft UKLee Corbett is the Strategic Partner Recruit Lead at Microsoft UK. He focuses on the recruitment of industry-leading ISVs and SaaS providers running Microsoft cloud. He’s passionate about the potential of cloud computing and AI, and how it’s transforming and disrupting the software market. Over the last 9 years, Lee has successfully built partnerships with ISVs and Services Partners to light up these Azure cloud and AI digital experiences for Microsoft’s customers.