Public cloud tools and free file sharing services are wholly owned and managed by third-party providers. Because infrastructure costs are spread across all users who are employing the service, each individual client is able to operate at a low cost. Public cloud tools are typically larger in scale than private enterprise clouds, which provide users with seamless, on-demand scalability.
These factors may seem to support the belief that public clouds and free file sharing services would suffice for a business’s basic infrastructure and file sharing needs. However, upon closer examination, it is clear that there are a number of areas in which these tools fall drastically short of meeting the crucial business needs of investment management firms.
Understanding the lingo of disaster recovery and business continuity planning is essential to ensuring a firm is fully knowledgeable during the planning process and prepared should an incident occur. Here at Eze Castle Integration we are regularly defining key DR terms for our hedge fund clients. Since we fancy ourselves experts on all things hedge fund DR related, we have have developed this handy list of common DR definitions.
A component of Disaster Recovery that deals with the restoration of business system software and data, after the operating system environment has been restored or replaced.
A system of planning for, recovering and maintaining both the IT and business environments within an organization regardless of the type of interruption. In addition to the IT infrastructure, it covers people, facilities, workplaces, equipment, business processes, and more.
An often overlooked, but critical component of disaster recovery (DR) solutions is testing. In an interview with HFMWeek, Bob Guilbert touched upon the topic of DR testing. In the discussion, Bob noted that “the best approach that funds can take to ensure an effective disaster recovery system is to test them periodically.” Lisa Smith, a Certified Business Continuity Planner here at Eze Castle, also echoes this advice in her conversations regarding inclement weather business continuity planning.
If regular testing is a critical component of an effective DR solution, why do many firms fail to do so? In working on the Eze Disaster Recovery team for several years, I have heard a variety of reasons from clients as to why this is the case. The most common reasons include:
a lack of time to commit to DR testing;
a lack of understanding as to how to go about testing their solutions;
and a belief that testing could hinder normal business operations, and is therefore too risky for the firm.
In the fast-paced, volatile world of financial services, constantly maintaining normal business operations is crucial – even in the event of an unexpected disaster. Even just a few moments of downtime could be extremely costly, so it is essential that firms implement sound business continuity procedures.
Since we frequently work with our hedge fund and alternative investment clients on developing comprehensive business continuity plans (BCPs), we feel it is important to review and test our own BCP procedures on a regular basis to ensure they will meet our most current business needs in the event of a disaster. To this end, Lisa Smith - one of our certified business continuity professionals - and her team recently conducted a BCP table top exercise with our management team here at Eze Castle. After this successful meeting, we thought it would be valuable to share some insights on the BCP table top exercise process with our readers to spotlight the importance of this activity.
An effective disaster recovery strategy cannot be acheived by checking a box. As you evaluate DR service providers, it is critical to ensure they have taken a variety of possible disaster scenarios into account and are utilizing best-of-breed infrastructure to power DR operations. Below is a quick DR infrastructure checklist to help you along in your planning (or click here to read our complete Essential Tech Guide for Hedge Funds).
Ensure your DR provider has redundant network equipment
Consider using multiple network providers; Some colocation facilities have over 30 network providers for maximum redundancy
There should be multiple sources, ideally sourced from different power grids
Are there backup power generators?
Is there onsite fuel to run those generators? You’ll want onsite fuel that can last a few weeks.
Many building tenants have a daily interaction with their building’s management. The interaction may be a friendly “good morning” or “goodnight”. Perhaps you’re on a first name basis with some of the front desk employees. Typically, that is where the relationship ends, and if so, that can potentially lead to some issues in the future.
Being able to quickly communicate and respond in the case of an emergency or interruption can make a big difference to building management and tenants alike. Additionally, having each other’s contact information can be extremely helpful during regular business hours, as well as, off-hours or holidays and weekends.
During regular business hours, building management has several options to notify tenants. Depending on the type and severity of an emergency, facility management may choose to utilize passive notification, such as email, or they may use more aggressive notification like public announcement (PA) systems or alarms. While alarms and PAs might help grab the attention of tenants, they aren’t the most effective tools to communicate long or detailed messages. Even planned drills, such as fire drills during regular business hours, are not fool-proof. During this commotion, it may be difficult to locate members of building management and even harder to efficiently communicate.
We’re in Hurricane Season so let’s look at some best practices to ensure you and your employees are prepared for the unexpected. Remember, these four Eze Tech Tips are great for the next Snowmageddon too.
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Business continuity planning. Disaster recovery. BCP. DR. You know the terms. You know investors are looking for them. But do you know what the real differences are between them?
Business Continuity Planning and Disaster Recovery have the same goal: to implement procedures that will enable a business to recover in the event of a disaster or disruption. But each has its own focus. Business Continuity Planning revolves around people. A hedge fund business continuity plan should identify the steps necessary to get operations up and running as it relates to business functions and personnel. BCP plans usually identify mission-critical services, communication strategies, employee recovery procedures and training methods.
Disaster Recovery Planning is directly related to the technology and infrastructure that supports business operations. In developing a disaster recovery strategy, hedge funds typically examine what applications and services they have in production and which ones are mission-critical. File shares, email, accounting and trading applications and voice capabilities are often the first that come to mind, but firms should evaluate which are most essential to them. The two most important factors associated with disaster recovery planning are the recovery point objective (RPO) and the recovery time objective (RTO).
Among the many technology decisions your firm will face during the launch phase is selecting the appropriate telecommunications needs to power daily operations. High-speed Internet and voice connectivity are necessary to access market data feeds, communicate with investors and facilitate trade orders and other investment decisions. To help you make an informed decision about your voice and Internet needs, we’ve provided a few suggestions below.
The Internet, of course, is an essential vehicle for collecting and distributing market data, as well as communicating with your clients, investors and partners via email. You’ll likely find four Internet access choices, depending on availability in your area. There are benefits and drawbacks to each, as described below.
Back on July 8th of this year, the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) experienced a temporary outage and proactively suspended trading. In many ways, the NYSE acted swiftly and responsibly when they noticed that there was a technical issue with its trading platform. The NYSE realized quickly that traders would not be able to reliably trade and ultimately decided to suspend trading across the market until full functionality could be restored. In total, NYSE trading was suspended for nearly four hours.
Although the overall impact of the downtime was minimal in the grand scheme, had this event impacted the public market data feed which traders and investors use to access critical information on public markets, the impact would have been more severe. Even still, there are some takeaways from this event. A positive: the success of the SEC Regulation NMS implementation. A negative: critique of the initial communications from the NYSE. Let’s examine these a little closer.
A Win for SEC Regulation NMS
The technical issues that caused the NYSE to suspend operations on July 8th occurred as the result of a new software rollout. All open orders at the time were canceled. Most investors were able to continue trading utilizing one or several of the 11 other Exchanges or 40+ dark pools to execute trades. A recent Wall Street Journal article1 indicated that as of 2005, 80% of the trades conducted across the U.S. stock market were via the NYSE. That figure currently stands at about 20%, in part because of a 2007 regulation commissioned by the SEC called Regulation NMS (national market system). This rule, enacted in 2007, allows for orders to be directed to the exchange that quotes the best price. It also reduces transaction fees for investors as a result of increased competition. Therefore, there is fortunately redundancy and flexibility for traders if a single or multiple markets are experiencing downtime. Had July’s technical glitch taken place a decade earlier when the majority of US stock trades were executed on the NYSE, the impact would have been more severe.