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KPMG rolls out new data analytics platform in its forensic advisory business selecting ControlCircle for datacentre services

May 6, 2009 by  

Web Hosting ToolsUnited Kingdom – ControlCircle today announces that it is providing comprehensive datacentre services for KPMG’s UK Forensic advisory business as the professional services firm deploys an industry leading, high performance data analytics platform to support clients requiring fast analysis of computer-based data. This will help them better understand their businesses, reduce commercial risks and maximise profits – crucial in the ever challenging economic climate.

Employing around 150 staff, KPMG’s UK Forensic division is one of the fastest growing of the company’s practice areas with revenues in 2008 totalling more than £60 million. While a range of traditional fraud prevention and detection services are provided, other related services, such as data analytics, are rapidly expanding too as clients seek to improve organisational effectiveness.

Stephen Gallagher, partner, data analytics, KPMG Forensic, explains, “Clearly data analytics involves crunching through vast amounts of data to find hidden trends and patterns. Historically, this would have involved just the capture, extraction and presentation of digital evidence used in fraud investigations but we’re moving the game on to help clients use analytics in a more proactive way to potentially gain a competitive advantage.”

A major data analytics success recently was where KPMG Forensic helped a FTSE 100 company save millions after the installation of a new enterprise-wise SAP billing system. Gallagher says, “A large number of incorrect invoices had been issued and then provisioned for. To decrease the provision level, we extracted 500 million rows of transactional data from a range of sources and 15 million customer records, analysed the incorrect billing, and as a result £50m of revenue was released to the top line, as a more accurate deferred revenue provision was agreed with auditors.”

With increased demand for its forensic services, KPMG needed to deploy a heavy weight data analytics solution with sufficient hardware and processing power to cope with the large data volumes so that it had the right infrastructure in place to support the business moving forward. It turned to ControlCircle for help in developing, managing and hosting a custom built platform.

Darren Pauling, director, KPMG Forensic, says, “We went out to tender 3 years ago, short listed two datacentre services companies and, after doing the necessary due diligence, selected ControlCircle. Data security was absolutely our key concern, as well as speed of response and accessibility in any chosen supplier. This is the first time we’ve worked with an outside partner in Forensic as we simply didn’t have the resources in-house to expand the operation as fast as we wanted.”

ControlCircle is providing datacentre space in London where KPMG has currently taken 16 racks, along with power, cabling, and physical security which includes separate cages within its datacentre suite, CCTV and biometric access. BGP Internet connectivity is provided as part of the fully managed service, as well as consultancy services to design, specify and install the systems in the datacentre, and 24x7x365 monitoring and support.

Gallagher adds, “We needed a partner who is easy to work with and flexible as our business is very reactive – speed is normally of the essence as projects are typically one off and short term where a client will engage with us for a specific job. ControlCircle’s approach supports this.”

SAS analytics and reporting suite has been installed with KPMG as the data analytics platform to underpin its forensic business. The partnership will enable KPMG’s customers to benefit from SAS’ market leading business analytics software.

KPMG’s whole data analytics environment comprises a range of best-of-breed tools from various vendors. From a data management and cleansing perspective, KPMG utilises tools like Datanomic and data mining tools from SAS to look for trends and patterns in the clean data. In addition, KPMG’s own bespoke written KTrace and KLean software allows staff to specifically look for irregularities in financial transactions. Pauling says, “We’ll use whatever best-of-breed software clients require to solve their specific issues – the platform is very much multi vendor and flexible in this sense.”

The project nature of its forensic business has therefore dictated KPMG’s whole choice of technology and driven the need for a flexible computing model where a pay-to-use approach has been adopted with some systems. ControlCircle has been instrumental in advising KPMG about what technology to deploy to support this utility computing approach, advising and supplying various systems such as the SAN storage among others.

NetApp’s multi protocol FAS3170 storage platform has been installed, with KPMG able to pay per client project based on the amount of data stored. With the system in the datacentre configured to provide up to 34TB worth of storage today, but with the head unit able to scale to 840TB of raw data, KPMG has a class leading platform available to cope with a myriad of future forensic projects.

Damian Milkins, ControlCircle’s chief executive officer, says, “The pay as you use storage approach based on a per gig stored basis means that KPMG avoids large upfront costs normally associated with storage where you have to over provision based on what you might need. Equally there are no delays when extra capacity is required as the system is already configured and ready to go. This means KPMG can respond to client needs and deliver projects far faster, turning the storage on and off as they like, and paying accordingly, which is perfect for a business which is so project based.”

The NetApp FAS system is connected to UNIX-based high availability Sun SPARC Enterprise M5000 servers through Brocade 5000 fibre channel switches running at 4 gigabit per second connectivity. The Sun servers feature dynamic domain and zoning – in effect offering a virtual server capability – to enable multiple UNIX-based applications to run on one physical box so that the data analytics team can maximise their capacity.

ControlCircle has also managed the installation of Brocade’s chassis-based NetIron MLX-16 switching routing platform to provide KPMG complete flexibility in terms of how it manages its network based on the number of client projects being worked on. A core network switch, it offers scalability from gigabit to 10 gigabit Ethernet, MPLS connectivity, wire speed performance, easy deployment of additional switch blades and competitive cost per port pricing.

Inherent in the datacentre services provided by ControlCircle is the ability for KPMG to quickly change the amount of equipment deployed and managed without extra rack space necessarily being required. Once appropriate due diligence technical assessments have been carried out, engineers can quickly provision extra power capacity in a rack on a per project basis with KPMG just paying for the extra power consumed. In other words, ControlCircle is enabling KPMG to make maximum use of its rack space through flexible contractual arrangements.

To enable the various practices which form the recently created KPMG Europe LLP entity[2] to have access to the new data analytics platform, in addition to its Indian operation, Citrix NetScaler, a web application delivery appliance, is providing secure SSL VPN capabilities and its Smart Access functionality for policy filtering.

This means granular control of who can access the system based on IP address – crucial given the sensitivity of projects managed by the forensic team. This is in addition to firewall technology implemented by ControlCircle from Check Point and Juniper.

Gallagher concludes, “In the old days, when a big investigation job came in, we would have had to add to our systems as we went which we recognised wasn’t a sustainable way of working. The beauty of the new platform is we’ve now got an infrastructure which is totally flexible which means clients can be better served, operational efficiency is enhanced, CAPEX reduced, with our technology partners recognising that a usage-based model is an equally valid way of charging over and above the traditional licensing route.”

About ControlCircle
ControlCircle, a City-based data centre services company, is focused on designing, implementing and providing ongoing monitoring & management of mission critical networks and systems for companies and e-commerce sites who need complete confidence in system uptime and security.

Vendor neutral, with a consultative approach to meet clients’ needs, ControlCircle offers an end-to-end solution covering data storage, network security, networking and connectivity, hosting and managed services. And it is the breadth of its managed services, SAN and 24/7/365 monitoring and support which sets ControlCircle apart. For further information about ControlCircle, visit www.controlcircle.com

About KPMG
KPMG LLP, a UK limited liability partnership, is a subsidiary of KPMG Europe LLP and operates from 22 offices across the UK with 11,500 partners and staff. The UK firm recorded a turnover of €2.2 billion in the year ended September 2008. KPMG is a global network of professional firms providing Audit, Tax, and Advisory services. We operate in 148 countries and have more than 113,000 professionals working in member firms around the world. The independent member firms of the KPMG network are affiliated with KPMG International, a Swiss cooperative. KPMG International provides no client services. For further information, please visit www.kpmg.co.uk
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