Global indexing giant MSCI will migrate to the Microsoft cloud under a deal inked last week.
According to a release, the “strategic alliance” would see MSCI shift its “existing products, data and services” to the Microsoft Azure platform in stages beginning with the index and analytics solutions.
MSCI would later transition its full suite of environmental, social and governance (ESG) products and ratings, real estate data and the risk analytics platform, Beon, to Azure.
“By bringing together the power of Microsoft’s cloud and AI [artificial intelligence] technologies with MSCI’s global reach through its portfolio of investment decision support tools, the companies will unlock new innovations for the industry and enhance MSCI’s client experience among the world’s most sophisticated investors, including asset managers, asset owners, hedge funds and banks,” the statement says.
After moving the core MSCI offerings to the Microsoft cloud, the two companies plan to work together on building ESG and climate risk solutions for the global investment industry.
“This future collaboration, in line with both organizations’ commitment to sustainability, is intended to help investors better understand and interpret the business risks and opportunities that climate change brings,” the release says.
Henry Fernandez, MSCI chief, says the Azure deal highlights the need for investors to adapt quickly in the big data era and to take advantage of “operational efficiencies [that] are growing at a critical speed around the world”.
In the release, Merrie Williamson, Microsoft vice president of Azure apps and infrastructure, says the new arrangement with MSCI “opens exciting frontiers for the global investment community”.
“The combination of MSCI’s relentless pursuit of innovation with Microsoft’s deep data expertise, expansive partner ecosystem, and go-to-market capabilities forms an alliance with the potential to accelerate the investment industry,” Williamson says.
This April the BlackRock-owned risk analytics platform Aladdin also signed on to Azure, suggesting the investment back-office race to the cloud was intensifying.
Similar to the MSCI deal, Aladdin and Microsoft signaled an intention to develop “sustainability data and analytics” for investors.
“The lack of standardized, high-quality data remains a significant hurdle in understanding the impact of sustainability-related risk on investment portfolios and company performance,” a joint Azure/Aladdin release said at the time. “Big data, machine learning and AI can all play a critical role in improving access to and the impact and quality of sustainability data.”