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When your business is private equity, one of your most precious assets is email. So it goes with New York City-based Kelso & Company, a recognized leader in the field.
The firm has built a successful investment track record over the past 30 years, raising a total of eight private equity funds with commitments in excess of $9.8 billion. During that time, the Kelso funds have made over 110 investments, including more than 90 which have been exited.
Private equity is a business of critical moments. Strategic investments and large transactions can turn on a rapid sequence of interactions. Should an important message be lost or other forms of data become inaccessible, multi-million dollar deals can evaporate. When others are aggressively competing for equity stakes, any misstep can knock you out of contention.
Revisiting DR Arrangements
With this in mind, Kelso has continually revisited its data recovery arrangements. The gravity of these decisions is only heightened by events such as a recent fire and building collapse in Manhattan and the devastation of Hurricane Sandy across the East Coast several years ago.
The issue of data storage and disaster recovery is further elevated by the Dodd-Frank Act, which requires private equity firms to protect their data against all events that might put this data at risk. Limited partners also have become more sophisticated in this area and data protection, along with IT services, is a key priority for them.
“Faster recovery was the bottom line for the firm,” says Christopher Daniels, an outsourced IT consultant who works with Kelso and other firms in the financial services sector. “If we were to experience a disaster, we need to recover all data in the shortest period of time possible.”
The firm has consistently sought the best solutions available for recovering and restoring its data assets. At various points, this meant Kelso had both on-site and off-site backup options including tape libraries. Kelso then shifted to cloud-based recovery services, which included service-level guarantees of 24-hour data recovery and restoration for its Microsoft Exchange server and other systems.
“The stakes are high. IT has never been more critical to the business,” adds Daniels. “Deals are made over email. If our email system is down, we’re in trouble. If our IT services are down, it makes an impact on the business. It can be the difference between winning and losing.”
Guaranteed Recovery Time Accelerates from 24 to 4 Hours
While Kelso remained highly focused on ensuring the protection and recovery of data over the years, it sought continual improvements where possible. In 2013, the firm decided to invest in Recover2Cloud (R2C) from Sungard Availability Services. This server-based approach, which delivered capabilities unmatched by rival offerings, made higher levels of service and performance possible.
Recovery times for Microsoft Exchange shifted from 24 hours to just four hours using the R2C service. “With this move, we’ve cut disaster recovery times dramatically,” says Daniels. “In fact, our servers spindled up the data in just one hour when we tested it.”
Instilling Confidence, Extending Service
With the support of Sungard AS, Kelso not only ensures faster recovery times, it also ensures compliance with new financial regulations. Indeed, it combines data recovery and data protection in a single solution. “This provides piece of mind,” says Daniels, who notes that the firm’s chief financial officer has solidly backed these new disaster recovery investments. “The value is immeasurable. Without this support, I wouldn’t sleep well.”
But it isn’t just disasters that are covered by these new investments. The IT unit can now quickly recover deleted files and folders. Tests and reports can be run on demand to reinforce stakeholder confidence. Ultimately, Kelso benefits not only from recovery and protection,
but resilience as well – the ability to ensure uptime is maximized and operations go largely uninterrupted.
The company also can meet the needs and requests of its limited partners. When they request information on the protection of their data, IT is able to quickly and confidently reply with responses that put them at ease. But IT has greater confidence in its recovery capabilities as well due to the enhanced visibility it has gained. The R2C service includes a client portal that IT can review at any time from any location. At a glance, it shows whether recovery point objectives (RPO) are being met.
A recent RPO cited by Daniels was one minute 11 seconds. “None of the other vendors we reviewed were meeting those kinds of goals,” he adds.
From a technical standpoint, Kelso reports that implementation was extremely smooth and that support-related service has been highly responsive. While putting agents on the server raised the specter of problems, none occurred and the rollout was successful.
The power of cloud-based services is the assurance that the firm can be up and running no matter what happens. That assurance goes a long way in helping IT meet the demands and expectations of today’s stakeholders.
Daniels, who has worked with the firm for over 15 years, is intent on addressing those stakeholder needs: “It’s all about serving the firm effectively and these tools are an extension of that service.”