While building a private cloud is not for the faint of heart, the investment is paying off for Eze Castle Integration and its hedge fund client base.
By Bob Guilbert
July 19, 2013
Eze Castle Integration has been providing IT solutions and technology consulting to hedge funds and alternative investment firms since 1995. About six years ago we started building our own private cloud infrastructure, which today serves our clients in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Asia. At the time, private clouds were not designed to meet the needs of the hedge fund industry—especially when it came to uptime, resiliency, security, and financial application integration. So we saw the need to make the investment.
Our hedge fund clients are typically the size of an SMB, but with the requirements of a large enterprise, such as high availability and resiliency. Our average-size client is 20 to 25 employees, with typically more than $100 million in assets under management.
When trading, you can’t afford to have your network go down. You can’t lose transactions or fail to receive communications. You need a solution provider that has specific application knowledge, because these applications are the bread and butter of how hedge funds operate. If your firm is registered with the SEC, there are some fairly strict requirements to comply with, particularly around archiving, data retention, data backup, and disaster recovery.
A private cloud platform offers our clients features they can’t get with a public cloud. We have industry knowledge pertinent to their operational needs and a global help desk that understands their applications and the environment. We offer a much higher level of touch to clients than they can get from a public cloud provider. Our infrastructure is more secure. We use a defense-in-depth strategy—including vulnerability testing, proactive monitoring, and more—to counteract cyber threats. And product and service agreements can be customized to meet the unique needs of each client.
GRAVITATING TO THE CLOUD
Three years ago, there was hesitation among our industry about cloud adoption. Today, the majority of our clients are gravitating to the cloud. More than 90 percent of the new opportunities coming to us are firms seeking cloud-based environments. Start-ups don’t want to invest capital in expensive IT equipment, so the cloud is an attractive option for them. Larger established firms can also benefit, and we saw at least 40 percent of our existing client business convert to cloud in the past year.
What is now our Eze Private Cloud solution started out as a disaster recovery (DR) platform that allowed clients to have their production environment replicated to a virtual environment. Once we became comfortable with the migration of DR to the cloud, we asked ourselves, “Why not deliver production services in the cloud as well?”
By 2011, the industry’s views on cloud computing had started to change. By that time fund managers were more comfortable with the security, and investors started asking better questions about cloud technology providers and what they were offering. There are still some funds that prefer to build their own cloud or use on-premises equipment, but we’ve seen a major shift to utilization of fully managed private clouds.
Today, the Eze Private Cloud supports 2,000-plus global users, more than 60 applications, and more than 1 petabyte of data. One of the reasons we’ve been so successful in this arena is the level of consistency and quality of service we are able to offer our clients regardless of their geographic location. Many hedge funds operate in more than one city, so our ability to provide services to them in the same way and with the same level of quality and support is essential.
Our plan going forward is to keep penetrating the financial services vertical while continuing to grow and evolve along with the industry. For example, when we started our London office we had nine clients with offices in the U.K. Now we have more than 75 clients in that region. As our U.S. and U.K. clients began expanding to Asia, we opened new offices in Singapore and Hong Kong in order to continue providing high-quality global service. And we’re always looking to add new services and technology to help clients become more efficient as they scale. We have several new products and service in the pipeline that we’re looking to roll out this year.
Building a private cloud is not for the faint of heart, especially given the investment required, but the appeal of a recurring revenue model certainly makes the investment worthwhile. If you’re thinking about creating a private cloud IT solution, start with an understanding of your clients’ needs and build a foundation of offerings around them. When it comes to the cloud, many firms are driven by price, so demonstrating the value of what the cloud has to offer and how it can be beneficial is essential. Spend time to build an infrastructure that’s robust and scales along with your client base.
Managing Director, Marketing and Products
Eze Castle Integration
Number of employees: 350+
Company focus: We deliver private cloud services, IT solutions, and technology consulting for hedge funds and alternative investment firms.
Favorite part of my job: During my tenure here I’ve been able to touch many different facets of business, which is what I enjoy, and have been able to see how the company operates and how all the gears work together.
Least favorite part: The travel, but it’s necessary to provide the visibility to our clients and to get to the heartbeat of issues
What people would be surprised to know about me: I’m a USTA-rated tennis player and still play competitively.