Since joining KPMG 15 years ago, chief information officer (CIO) Bryan Clark has overseen a major change in the firm’s IT strategy. Back then the professional services company operated as six separate regions in the UK, with Clark hired as IT director for the South East division. Since then, the firm has grown and evolved into KPMG Europe - the largest accounting firm in the region, with offices in 30 countries.
“My role as CIO at KPMG has been about working in an organisation that is constantly growing and expanding and at the same time consolidating,” says Clark.
“As a firm, we want to get a consistency of service across the business, and naturally that leads you to want to standardise infrastructure and systems as much as you can.”
KPMG’s expansion was a direct result of it operating as a European Limited Liability Partnership (ELLP). Prior to a change in legislation, partners of a professional services business had to be based in their country of operation. However, when this restriction was lifted, KPMG, and Clark, saw the potential for massive growth.
“We did something quite ambitious four years ago when the legislation passed: we created the first ELLP,” says Clark.
“Today we have a partnership that provides professional services across multiple countries, and this has broadened the range of IT options for us – with their focus now on scale, consistency and quality, all on a more standard basis.”
The larger countries of operation in the ELLP are the UK, Germany, Holland, Spain, Luxembourg and Belgium. Clark believes KPMG is now the largest single professional services business in the world.
Private vs public cloud
“I think cloud computing is a really important thing to do – but in a private cloud,” he says.
“If we could use a public cloud we could get massive economies of scale, but it’s not a practical proposition. It’s just not secure enough,” he adds.
“But we can take the same model and apply it to what we do internally. We have been working extremely closely with T-Systems, EMC and VMware to build our very own, very modern, private cloud.”
Since KPMG established itself as a single European entity, it has been working towards consolidating its various national IT infrastructures. This has included migrating each country’s ERP system to a standardised SAP package.
Further to this, Clark has overseen the building of a twinned datacentre in Frankfurt, Germany that will host this package. The migration of data from legacy datacentres into the Frankfurt “private cloud” began this month.
“The datacentre in Germany is completely virtualised and as I speak we have just announced that it is ready to go. We aim to make this the single centre for the whole of KPMG Europe,” he said.
“We have a European network in place, and this operates on a BT MPLS network, and so it will be relatively straightforward to migrate data across. We will start with the large datacentres that service most of our users, but we aim to consolidate the rest over time,” he adds.