Big banks, including JPMorgan Chase, Commonwealth Bank of Australia and ING, are among the first and most entrenched users of internal clouds, those massive farms of servers harnessed together through virtualization, workload management, provisioning and other overlay software that allows processing work to be sent to the most appropriate machines, then lets those machines be quickly re-provisioned when that batch of work is done. Banks are also keen observers of public clouds and builders of hybrid approaches that send certain work, such as applications involving sensitive data, to the internal cloud and more generic applications to shared or public cloud providers for the efficiency and pay-as-you-go properties of external clouds.

But uncertainty and confusion still pervade the financial services community about whether or not cloud technologies afford the level of security, availability and capacity that banks need. Tony Kerrison, who recently became chairman of the TM Forum's Enterprise Cloud Leadership Council, is hoping to bring clarity to this world. The ECLC is a consortium of 770 large-company users of cloud products and services. "We saw this as a great opportunity to help us with what we're trying to achieve at ING but also to help define the industry a little better, because clearly, it is in need of definition," he says.

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