Keeping Pace with FinServ Regulatory Compliance Demands with Smarsh and AWS
By Chintan Sanghavi, Sr. Partner Solutions Architect – AWS
By Jim Kidwell, Sr. Product Marketing Manager – Smarsh
The way we work has changed. Companies are using more communication channels—including email, chat, video, and voice—and generating more data volume and velocity than ever before. At the same time, governance and regulatory demands are accelerating, putting pressure on IT, HR, legal, and compliance departments.
Enterprise organizations require the ability to be proactive on modern governance challenges. The difficulty is knowing what data you have, where it’s located, its business value or risk to the organization, and how it can be protected.
This financial services designation from Amazon Web Services (AWS) ensures Smarsh serves customer needs with the best technology available to meet data retention, compliance, discovery, supervision, and surveillance needs.
Smarsh Enterprise Platform
The Smarsh Enterprise Platform enables companies to capture, retain, analyze, and act on the “signals” in communications that are most critical to the business. These include compliance and brand risks and may expand to include security threats, cultural indicators, untapped revenue opportunities, and more.
The products within the Smarsh platform include:
- Capture: Available in the cloud or on premises, this technology capture 100+ communications channels and sends them to any archive, data lake, or location.
- Enterprise Archive and Enterprise Warehouse: The central repository where all content is stored ready for access, analysis, and downstream usage.
- Discovery: For applying legal holds and the review of content for legal issues.
- Conduct: For the proactive review of employee communications to meet legal requirements and prevention of costly employee missteps.
Previously, the process for selecting technology at an enterprise level has led many organizations to build a patchwork of solutions across vendors both on the cloud and on premises. While each of the products selected were chosen to solve discrete problems, the connections between technologies can be less than ideal and often require significant attention and intervention to remain functional.
The Smarsh strategy for enterprise technology brings all of the best technology into a single location—the Smarsh Enterprise Platform. With a focus on serving customer needs with integrated technology, the platform provides communications capture through retention, supervision, legal discovery, and eventual disposal. With Smarsh cloud-native applications on AWS, you gain piece of mind that your data is always available and ready for use.
Figure 1 – Smarsh provides communications compliance from capture through archive and disposal.
Whether your organization is required to capture and store communications, or if you’re looking to solve a discrete need such as protecting your organization in legal entanglements, solutions within the platform can be deployed discretely to meet your needs head-on.
No matter what communications channels your team relies upon, Smarsh supports your needs with the capture of over 100 channels while retaining the channel’s native format and context.
Capture email, social, mobile, instant message and collaboration, and voice channels and send to the Smarsh Enterprise Warehouse, or any archive or data lake of your choice. All content is captured in native format in context of the original communication, making it easier to ascertain the message’s true meaning.
Warehousing and Archival
At the core of the Smarsh Enterprise Platform is the Enterprise Warehouse and Enterprise Archive. With petabyte scale and elastic compute, the warehouse provides a centralized, cloud-native location to retain, analyze, and enrich your communications data.
AWS enables the scaling of Smarsh solutions by providing an architecture that allows the archive store ever-increasing amounts of data in the secure environment required to meet customer needs.
When deployed as Enterprise Archive, the warehouse meets the most stringent data retention regulations, including FINRA, IIROC, FCA, MiFID II, and GDPR, providing immutability and more.
Supervision and Surveillance
Utilizing battle-tested supervision and surveillance technology, Enterprise Conduct features configurable scenarios to analyze communications using the best technology for the need—natural language processing (NLP), machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI), and lexicons.
Custom-built technology trained with millions of communications from the financial services industry enables the quick identification and escalation of compliance violations and other risks.
Smarsh understands that content reviewers in supervision and surveillance workflows are often bogged down by unimportant and irrelevant content showing up in their workflows. By pairing machine learning with lexicons refined with years of real-world industry refinement, governance teams can work more efficiently by reduction of noise in review queues.
Whether your team is looking for financial market misconduct, HR violations, or any other risk, Enterprise Conduct helps your team use their time most wisely.
Legal Holds, Early Case Assessment, and e-Discovery
Built for demanding legal workflows, Enterprise Discovery is built to collect, preserve, review, and export your electronic communications data at speed. Whether your legal teams will be doing in-house review or exporting content for downstream examination, Discovery helps refine the key datasets quickly and efficiently.
By refining the applicable dataset, your team saves both time and money in your e-discovery and investigations. All communications are stored and reviewed in native format that helps reduce the need to over-collect prior to export for outside counsel and third-party review tools.
Customer-initiated data exports are always free of charge, which helps you efficiently enable your downstream legal teams all while keeping costs in check.
Leveraging AWS Components
The approach Smarsh has taken toward building the Enterprise Platform is to lean into building solutions as cloud native. By doing so, the platform takes advantage of the near infinite flexibility and scalability of AWS cloud technologies to provide a reliable and high-performance product that meets the needs of the most demanding, large organizations in the world.
The Smarsh Enterprise Platform is architected using core AWS capabilities, including but not limited to:
- Triple-active deployment and replication in AWS Availability Zones (AZs).
- Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) for all data storage.
- Multi-region deployment options.
- Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) for fast scalability, compute and data retrieval.
- Amazon Elastic Block Store (Amazon EBS) provides storage for EC2.
Figure 2 – Data flow from customer networks into Smarsh Enterprise Archive.
Central to how the Enterprise Platform is deployed on AWS is the conscious effort to maximize the availability and security of customer data. This is achieved by deploying multiple instances of the customer data into a single Availability Zone, and then replicating that data across multiple AZs.
By deploying across multiple AZs, AWS effectively becomes a super data center with high availability and active workload balancing. This relies upon the AWS architecture to provide inexpensive, low-latency networks between data centers, and a homogeneous infrastructure availability, performance, and service capability across data centers.
The effect for Smarsh customers is to gain the highest data availability and service reliability possible.
Disaster Recovery Benefits
When you look at traditional on-premises data centers and compare them with the Smarsh Enterprise Platform’s software-as-a-service (SaaS) model on AWS, the disaster recovery (DR) metrics stand out as prime differentiators. Recovery time objective (RTO) and recovery point objective (RPO) metrics measure how well a solution implementation can come back after a disaster.
Figure 3 – Triple-active deployment ensures maximum data availability.
- Recovery time objective (RTO) measures the amount of time it’s expected to take to return to normal operations during an outage. With the triple-active method of deployment and replication across AZs, it’s possible to get this time down to near zero. In the extremely unlikely event where an AZ instance goes down, with the triple-active architecture there are always other AZs ready to pick up any data capture, storage, analysis, and retrieval needs.
- Recovery point objective (RPO) measures the amount of data lost during an outage. Again, in an unlikely event of any outage, the triple-active architecture prevents data loss through continual data replication and retention.
Traditional on-premises solutions rely upon hot and cold server failover methodologies. With the triple-active deployment model of Smarsh Enterprise Platform, the real-time synchronous replication ensures downtimes become a thing of the past. If any AZ goes down for whatever reason, the other two are available to serve data storage and request needs.
The triple-active deployment topology provides resilience against failures in the public cloud and is validated 24/7 by Smarsh’s global fleet.
Multi-Region Replication Options
To add additional resiliency to your data store, Smarsh offers multi-region replication that acts as a form of cold or warm DR option. In the cold DR form, you can be assured that Smarsh will:
- Enable cross-region replication for Amazon S3 buckets that contain all object storage/content.
- Store regular snapshots of indexes and metadata in secondary region.
- Back up all relevant environment and user configuration to secondary region.
In the event of a disaster where it would be necessary to leverage cold DR, all necessary data would be available to hydrate a new environment in this secondary region.
With the warm DR option, in addition to all the cold DR steps, a minimal set of services are deployed that allow you to view and search that secondary region’s data. In the event of a disaster, you would continue to have access to your data while the remaining services in the secondary region are hydrated.
For AWS and Smarsh customers, data security is of the utmost importance. With the Enterprise Platform, data is protected at its core by the Smarsh Policy and Operations Management team together with multiple layers of built-in security.
Smarsh encrypts customer data in transit and at rest. The continuous integration pipeline that deploys services includes automated testing to verify encryption configuration. Encryption in transit is built on robust industry-standard TLS 1.2 or higher, and encryption at-rest includes infrastructure-layer (disk) encryption for storage volumes, relational databases, and blob storage.
As an additional layer of protection, customer data is encrypted at-rest at the application layer using AES-256 before being stored on object storage where it’s encrypted again by the native object storage layer at rest. Encryption keys are protected within an isolated key management system (AWS KMS) backed by hardware security modules.
Smarsh hosts Enterprise Platform components in secure, isolated containers, where system immutability is enforced by making and deploying updates through a well-controlled pipeline, including regular security scans of the container images.
The Smarsh Enterprise Platform is designed to meet the demands of teams worldwide, with AWS as the preferred cloud hosting provider. Whether you’re looking to meet information governance requirements, e-discovery needs, or implementing a robust supervision and surveillance program, Smarsh is configurable to meet your needs.
For more information about the Enterprise Platform, visit AWS Marketplace or reach out to AWS or Smarsh directly for a discussion about your specific needs.
Smarsh – AWS Partner Spotlight
Smarsh is an AWS Financial Services Competency Partner that captures and archives electronic communications data to meet compliance, discovery, and risk management requirement.