Brooks Macdonald wanted a coherent technology strategy that accommodated needs stemming from tremendous growth and bolstered its security and data protection capabilities.Solutions Cloud, Private Cloud, Applications, Email & Productivity, Security, Detect & Respond Platforms Applications, Microsoft Office 365, Cloud, VMware, Security, Armor
Brooks Macdonald is an award-winning investment management firm dedicated to providing an outstanding level of service to professional advisers, private high net-worth individuals, pension funds, institutions and trusts.
Streamlining and simplifying architecture
Like many organizations of its kind, Brooks Macdonald needed to evolve its technology infrastructure. Its backend was hosted across multiple data centres and its technology partners and providers list had sprawled to more than 300 names, adding unnecessary expense and complexity to what could be a simpler and more cost effective operation.
“We knew we had the opportunity to significantly streamline our environment and IT operations,” explained Dan Clow, Head of Technology Services at Brooks Macdonald. “Everything was slightly more complicated than it needed to be, and while we never felt the need to become industry leaders in our use of tech, we knew there was a lot we could improve on.”
Brooks Macdonald had previously been a Datapipe customer, becoming a Rackspace Technology customer in 2017 following the acquisition of Datapipe.
In 2019, Clow’s team consulted with Rackspace Technology to identify the main areas for work and developed an action plan to redesign the backend architecture.
“When I joined Brooks Macdonald, it was clear we needed to prioritise structural and organisational changes,” said Caroline Abbondanza, Group CTO at Brooks Macdonald.
“We already had a working relationship with Rackspace Technology but were not fully taking advantage of their expertise,” Abbondanza said. “We knew we wanted to improve, but we didn’t know quite how to maximize the change. There were an immense number of possibilities. Fortunately, Rackspace Technology proved to be a trusted, strategic partner throughout the whole process who could identify and deliver the best options.”
“Ultimately we will be looking to build our own data capability rather than outsourcing it, along with the scalability and flexibility a multicloud landscape will afford us, and the confidence we have drawn from the private cloud and security migration project with Rackspace Technology has been essential to us considering our next step.”
Moving from multiple data centres to private cloud
The first priority was to simplify the architectural sprawl that had developed over the years. The team decided to consolidate operations from multiple data centres to a new private cloud offering from Rackspace Technology. The Rackspace Private Cloud is a managed virtualized platform. The move was part of the supplier consolidation that Brooks Macdonald undertook to simplify technology integration and management to increase efficiency.
The first steps of the project included rebuilding servers and retiring legacy services in preparation for a move to private cloud. The new private cloud platform was in place ahead of the disruption brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic a few months later.
“Before the migration itself, I was nervous. We’ve all done similar projects before and when you’re dealing with business-critical operations, there is no room for mistakes,” said Clow. “Ask business leaders what a cloud migration will be like, and they think it will overrun, overspend and be a bumpy journey. Rackspace Technology has completely changed that perception — it’s been seamless, successful and accelerated our technology strategy.”
Abbondanza agreed, “This was the biggest technology project the company had ever carried out. I don’t think anyone who works at Brooks Macdonald even knows it happened — that’s how well it went!”
When this initial migration was complete, further opportunity to streamline IT services was identified as Brooks Macdonald moved its Microsoft Office 365 licensing to Rackspace Technology. This outsourcing meant Brooks Macdonald gained access to the support services Rackspace Technology provides to Microsoft Office 365 customers.
“Microsoft is a trusted partner of ours,” explained Abbondanza. “This new arrangement is the best of both worlds, as we now have single-pane oversight of our Office 365 operations and the flexibility to scale as required. From Microsoft, we get the art of the possible. With Rackspace Technology, we are able to turn the possible into a reality.”
This flexibility was best demonstrated when Brooks Macdonald acquired two companies shortly after its migration had been completed. Despite a 10% increase in staff with varying technology requirements, the process was painless under the new partnership with Rackspace Technology. The integration was seamless due to the scalability and capabilities provided by the private cloud infrastructure.
"Having a partner like Rackspace Technology to work with gives us the assurance that we will be prepared for anything.”
Enhancing security and compliance
Security and compliance are critically important to Brooks Macdonald. The company manages a wealth of sensitive client data, and many of its clients are high-net-worth individuals and powerful financial institutions. Taking security protocols to the next level was another aspect of the transformation program.
“Our existing security model was so fragmented,” said Abbondanza. “We basically threw everything out and started again, with an aim of simplifying and improving its effectiveness.”
Brooks Macdonald engaged Rackspace Managed Security Services, incorporating the latest version of its Proactive Detection and Response service for 24x7x365 protection against advanced persistent threats (APTs). This new security offering dovetailed with the new cloud architecture, offering a single-pane view and creating a more holistic approach to monitoring activity and assessing threats.
“For us, it all comes down to protecting the crown jewels: our clients’ data,” explained Abbondanza. “It is one of our key business drivers, and why we remain a trusted operator in this space. We’ve been able to make it a point of difference from our competitors, being able to demonstrate the measures we have in place to our clients and partners. The investments made today also help us safeguard ourselves against future threats as best as we can.”
Abbondanza revealed, “We’ve already seen how quickly the threat landscape can change. Right now, for instance, we’ve seen an increase in the use of imitation sites and impersonation attacks, as well as a lot of phishing attempts. Having a partner like Rackspace Technology to work with gives us the assurance that we will be prepared for anything.”
The levels of security now in place helped support negotiations for cyber insurance. “Often there are restrictions and caveats attached to any cyber insurance agreement,” said Abbondanza. “We were able to obtain a competitive premium with no restrictions, entirely because of the comfortable levels of security we were now able to demonstrate, and the clarity and transparency of our systems.”
Prepared for multicloud
With a streamlined and secure private cloud infrastructure in place, Brooks Macdonald can now explore additional services to enhance its technology offering.
“What Rackspace Technology has given us now is a strong foundation,” said Clow. “We know we can draw on excellent working relationships with their team and that gives us the confidence to consider new approaches. From our work to date, we know we can go to Rackspace Technology and get the best possible counsel on what we are thinking of doing and what the right approach for us would be.”
Clow added, “If we think about CRM, for example, we no longer have to look elsewhere and have multiple conversations — it all falls under the Rackspace Technology umbrella. It is like going to a department store, with every possible option available to us — it’s just a case of deciding which services or combinations will add the most value to our operation.”
One likely development for the future will be the addition of a public cloud offering to enable Brooks Macdonald to operate in a multicloud environment. “Multicloud feels like a logical step for us,” said Abbondanza. “We are already considering the benefits of public cloud from Azure, in continuation of our existing partnership with Microsoft and in consultation with Rackspace Technology, a recognized leader in multicloud.”
“We are already considering the benefits of public cloud from Azure, in continuation of our existing partnership with Microsoft and in consultation with Rackspace Technology, a recognized leader in multicloud.” Caroline Abbondanza Group CTO Brooks Macdonald
About Rackspace Technology
Rackspace Technology is a leading end-to-end multi-cloud technology services company. We can design, build and operate our customers’ cloud environments across all major technology platforms, irrespective of technology stack or deployment model. We partner with our customers at every stage of their cloud journey, enabling them to modernize applications, build new products and adopt innovative technologies.
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