The financial services sector is ramping up investments in next-generation technologies, including both private and public cloud. It’s not just cloud, of course. Artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, blockchain, advanced data analytics – the list goes on.

Red Hat’s Alessandro Petroni and Bill Lathram each participated in panels at recent Wall Street Technology Association events. The following are their first-hand perspectives of the events.


I joined technology visionaries and futurists in New York for a WSTA panel discussion on emerging technologies, where we covered security, stability, transactional guarantees, and dug into evolving interfaces like personal assistant technologies such as Amazon’s Echo and Google Home. I was joined by Swamy Kocherlakota, CIO of S&P Global, Keith Steward, AWS artificial intelligence specialist, Rami Musallam, co-founder, president and CEO of CaféX Communications and Colin Wynd.

Moderator Johna Till Johnson, CEO and founder of Nemertes Research, framed the discussion with a look at how research in areas like materials sciences and genomics are impacting and influencing the technology that Wall Street firms might consume downstream.

There was even mention of Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs). There’s a lot of interesting research and info on GANs at OpenAI’s blog site; OpenAI is a non-profit AI research company. GANs are generative models that use deep learning and can learn, for example, to create data that is similar to data that we give them. This is pretty advanced stuff, and the goal is to use GANs AI applications to solve really complex business problems.

The panel also brought up the application of chalcogenide alloys. These have been successfully used for rewritable optical data storage for years, and now are being used for high-capacity non-volatile memory (NVM) integrated circuits (ICs) like Intel’s 3D Xpoint, a new class of storage and memory technology designed to be faster, denser, and non-volatile.

Other key topics covered during the panel include:

  • Big problems can only be addressed by wider communities with open collaboration, beyond the boundaries of a single vendor.
  • Open source is where innovation is. And participation in open source communities helps accelerate that innovation.
  • Financial services firms need to rethink their corporate mindset by experimenting more and understanding that the digital transformation they are undergoing is a journey that’s much broader than piecemeal point solutions. Be ready to put skin in the game.
  • Adopt reliable tech platforms that are open source, curated, supported, certified and up to distinct needs of a financial enterprise.

From what I could see, the audience at the WSTA event walked away with greater awareness of emerging technologies that are coming to the financial services industry, with a heavy focus on interfaces and social channels. The final takeaways shared by the panelists focused heavily on people, community, and business-oriented solutions. Our parting thought was asking attendees to consider the power of open source innovation and community. Other panelists counseled attendees to stay aware of disintermediation scenarios like blockchain and "follow the money," and focus on delivering business value. They pointed to the importance of social channel awareness, and the need to continuously examine how customers want to access and consume financial services and advised firms to keep their eye on the evolution of corporate culture.


I had the pleasure of participating on a panel -- “Operational Efficiency with the Use of the Cloud,” and was joined by Ajay Gulati, co-founder and CTO of ZeroStack, Andrew Hillier, co-founder and CTO of Densify, David Lewis, head of enterprise architecture and cloud strategy at S&P Global, Stephen Orban, head of enterprise strategy for Amazon Web Services and Rahul Ravulur, co-founder and CEO of AppOrbit. The panel was moderated by Raja Chris, head of infrastructure, Annaly Capital Management and a WSTA director.

Panelists discussed cloud and its return on investment (ROI) and critical elements of a successful transition to cloud, including executive buy-in and employee training and participation. Cloud migration also needs to focus on business processes, not just technology, the panelists said.

Attendees heard that a lot of the cloud workloads they are seeing on AWS are AI and data analytics and supporting auditing and trade analytics and that there is growing interest in the market to use cloud to reduce expenses in financial firms’ data centers. Another point panelists made: when it comes to cloud, one size does not fit all. Most will require customization.

Another consideration panelists mentioned is not to get bogged down with “analysis paralysis” when examining the total cost of ownership (TCO) of a cloud implementation. And, when determining which workloads to move first, one guiding principle is to identify those that have the least number of touch points or dependencies as these are typically the easiest to transition to the cloud.

Red Hat has created a simple app categorization matrix designed to help enterprises determine which apps would be the least costly to move to cloud. Check out our ebook, Best Practices for Migrating Traditional Applications into Containers, for more.

We plan to participate in more WSTA events in the future. Stay tuned – in our financial services blog we’ll keep you posted on upcoming events and also give you a summary of what was covered!

Daniel Callot, senior account solutions architect – financial services, Russ Popeil, senior manager, solutions architecture - financial services at Red Hat, and Anthony Golia, chief architect, solutions and strategy at Red Hat also contributed to this article.


Alessandro Petroni leads the business and technology strategy to accelerate the adoption of Red Hat open source technologies in the FinServ/FinTech industry working with customers, technology and service partners across product management, engineering, marketing and sales. In this role, he leads Red Hat in assisting banks and other financial services firms in the go-to-cloud journey, adopting DevOps, influencing Red Hat R&D to focus on solving Finserv line of business' challenges developing open source reference architectures and open collaborative environments.

Prior to Red Hat, Petroni spent sixteen years serving top financial institutions including Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch Bank of America, Societe Generale, Citicorp and Deutsche Bank. He has covered leading roles as consultant covering engineering, operations, software development, and consulting. As banking IT director, he has implemented distributed solutions for capital markets and retail banking, managing large international teams. He graduated with a Master of Computer Engineering and Business Administration from the University of Trento, Italy and lives in New York.

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