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Business continuity in financial services

With much uncertainty about the spread of the COVID-19, financial services customers and their regulators are naturally concerned about the continuity of their business operations. This includes the use of Microsoft Cloud Services, such as Azure, Microsoft 365, and Microsoft Dynamics 365 to support important lines of their business. Regulators such as the United Kingdom Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the European Central Bank, and regulators of the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) all have specific requirements concerning addressing business continuity planning, including for pandemics. While we may be experiencing a pandemic like none other in our lifetime, we understand the importance of assuring our customers and their regulators that we can and will support them during this volatile time and do so at scale around the globe.

At Microsoft, we have an Enterprise Business Continuity Management Program, managed and led by the Enterprise Business Continuity Program Management Office. At its core, the Microsoft business continuity management framework is designed to strengthen the continuity and resiliency of Microsoft’s business operations. This includes the recovery and continuity of critical business functions, business system software, hardware, services, and data required to maintain an acceptable level of operations during an incident, including a pandemic.

The pandemic has Microsoft leaders and personnel working around the clock to scale for the rising demand of our cloud services. This supports the world adjusting to a need to work remotely as well as keeps our workloads, including banking systems and critical infrastructure, operating at scale.

Here are common questions and answers addressing how we’re supporting customers in this unprecedented time:

Are we currently expecting a material interruption or degradation in our provided services?

  • Automation: Microsoft Cloud Services are designed to operate with substantial automation.
  • Resiliency: Microsoft utilizes cloud-based routing technologies that are designed to be highly resilient. Critical support infrastructure is hosted across geo-diverse data centers with load balancing or automatic failover capability.
  • Scaling dynamically: One of the benefits of a cloud service is the ability to scale dynamically, including utilization of a geographically diverse supply chain, reallocation of resources between services, and redistribution of load.
  • Remote administration: A general principle of cloud service operations is remote management and administration. Microsoft sees no effect on its ability to manage the systems used to support Microsoft Cloud Services and confirmed adequate capacity for staff to work remotely at scale.

As part of Microsoft’s plan, does it have strategies that include remote work capabilities?

  • Geographic diversity: Microsoft has the capability to ensure continued operations with multiple subject matter experts in each discipline on the team, with geographic diversity being a key consideration.
  • Remote access: Employees responsible for managing and monitoring Microsoft Cloud Services have access to needed resources from home or the office.
  • On-call rotation: An extensive on-call rotation allows for sustained support should issues arise and ensures other people are available should individuals fall ill.

Does Microsoft’s plan respond to and provide strategies to recover from mass absenteeism events?

  • Health and safety of our employees: The health and safety of employees are a top priority at Microsoft. Microsoft is diligently following the guidance and updates provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) and is working closely with local public health authorities to provide the necessary support for those colleagues in an effort to minimize any further impact on employees, customers, and the broader community.
  • Essential roles on-site: Certain employees that have essential roles supporting critical infrastructure and other essential functions to keep our operations running may need access to work on-site, and Microsoft is taking appropriate measures to ensure employee health and safety is met while operations continue.

To learn more about how we’re addressing the needs of our financial services customers, read our recent blog post, Agility, continuity, and risk management for financial services, written by Bill Borden, corporate vice president of worldwide financial services at Microsoft.

We will continue to adapt and evolve as we keep operations going. We are centered in supporting our customers as well as our communities. Thus, I am mindful to ensure my neighbor, a widow in her 70s, has what she needs. I am cautious and following the guidelines of social distancing because of the importance it has for our broader community to be safe. And I know that, ultimately, what we do extends to something much larger than any one of us. If we each play our part, we will get through this stronger and better than where we are today.

Get the latest information, updates, and resources from Microsoft: Responding to COVID-19 together.