Speaking to CIO UK's sister title Computerworld UK at the Google Cloud Next conference in the US, the former Lloyds Bank CIO - who joined HSBC from Barclays in February 2015 - said that HSBC could not rely on its own infrastructure having traditionally built or customised off-the-shelf technology.
"At the core of our business we are a bank, but we also have a significant technology company embedded within the organisation," he said. "The question that I was asking the management teams was do we really want to compete with the cloud providers and people like Google, are we really going to try and do what they do as well as they do it? Our conclusion was that was it was better if we adopt a cloud-first strategy."
West said HSBC is working with all the big cloud providers, including Amazon Web Services and the Microsoft Azure cloud, and will continue a hybrid approach to better serve its 37 million customers and provide different platforms to its data scientists.
"We spent a good amount of time working with all the different cloud providers and evaluating their products. If you look at the scarce talent we have around data analysts and data scientists, they need tools that allow them to do their work in a very productive way," he said.
"There is always a challenge to get data scientists to shift from their favourite platforms - they have really enjoyed that experience."