CASE STUDY

The London School of Economics and Political Science – A lesson in resilience

Founded in 1881, Martin Currie is a specialist investment management business with headquarters in Edinburgh and offices in London, New York, Melbourne, Singapore, Zurich and Hong Kong. It manages £5.5 billion (as at 31 December 2011) in active equity portfolios for a global client base of financial institutions, charities, foundations, endowments, pension funds, family offices, government agencies and investment funds. It is a private company, owned and managed by its full-time employees.

The firm describes itself as ‘The Big Boutique’ as it combines the solidity, professionalism and robustness of process of a large company with the distinctiveness, client focus and personal ownership of a small company. A Sungard Availability Services customer since 1994, Martin Currie’s plans have evolved from primarily IT disaster recovery to true business continuity. Alan Davidson, Business Continuity Manager for the firm, explains, “Our reputation for responding quickly to our clients’ needs depends on being able to operate effectively under any circumstances. If our IT systems were to go down or we were not able to communicate with our clients, it could have a major negative impact on our business.”

Martin Currie has invested in 110 Workplace Recovery positions at one of Sungard AS’s workplace recovery centres in Scotland. This means that should its Edinburgh HQ be hit by a fire, flood or any other disaster it can quickly relocate core staff and continue business as usual. When allocating the seats, team members from all the firm’s key business functions are represented, from investment managers through to HR and Legal, with the remaining staff able to work remotely. “Having an alternate facility we can relocate to in the event of an emergency is key to keeping our business up and running and maintaining our excellent levels of customer service,” says Alan Davidson, Business Continuity Manager for the firm. “We cannot afford for our business to be offline for any extended period of time as we’d not only lose money in the short term but would damage our reputation with clients in the long term.”

The quality of Sungard AS’s workplace recovery centre coupled with the breadth of its infrastructure throughout the UK were highlighted by Martin Currie as two key factors in choosing Sungard AS as its BC partner. Alan Davidson explains, “We chose Sungard because we wanted a trusted name we could rely on. While other companies offered bits and pieces of what we needed, Sungard was the only dedicated business continuity provider we found that offered the complete Information Availability package. Sungard’s rollback capabilities give us the peace of mind that, no matter what, they have the resources to look after us.”

“If our IT systems were to go down or we were not able to communicate with our clients, it could have a major negative impact on our business.” Alan Davidson, Business Continuity Manager, Martin Currie

In the event of widescale or multiple disaster declarations when a customer’s first choice recovery location may be unavailable, Sungard AS’s network infrastructure, combined with its standardised Workplace Recovery offerings at each location, enables customers to ‘rollback’ to alternative Sungard AS sites. It also gives customers the flexibility to choose dual primary recovery locations according to business needs.

In line with BCM good practice and as part of the service it receives from Sungard AS, Martin Currie tests its BC plans annually. These tests replicate what would happen during an invocation if its own offices were compromised, with staff relocating to the Sungard AS facility to become familiar with the recovery location and highlight any potential issues that may not have been obvious when developing the BC plan.

Alan Davidson concludes, “Having an effective business continuity plan in place is just good business sense. Increasingly, we are seeing our clients ask about our business continuity capabilities and we ask the same of our suppliers. We treat our investment in business continuity as just a cost of doing business.”

“We chose Sungard because we wanted a trusted name we could rely on. Sungard’s rollback capabilities give us the peace of mind that, no matter what, they have the resources to look after us.” Alan Davidson, Business Continuity Manager, Martin Currie

Business problem

With an existing data centre nearing the end of its usable life, The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) needed to find an alternative data centre strategy which would be cost-effective and help ensure that the university could continue operations in the wake of any unplanned disruptions, whether man-made or natural.

Solution
  • Managed Services – Managed Hosting, Vaulting Solutions, Email Availability Services
  • Consulting – Data Profiling.
Business benefits

Working with Sungard AS has not only provided LSE with data centre resilience and 24/7 Information Availability; Sungard AS’s Data Profiling has also helped LSE to better understand its data, allowing it to identify mission critical information and revise its recovery strategies to reflect this. In addition, the use of Sungard AS’s ‘intelligent hands’ has allowed LSE’s IT team to hand over responsibility for data centre resilience and storage and concentrate its activities on more strategic priorities such as new innovations to improve processes, learning and teaching within the university.

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