In 1963, Dr. Alfred A. Kuehn founded Management Science Associates, Inc. (MSA), the first spin-off of Carnegie Tech (CIT) GSIA (now Tepper), which hired 5000 employees in the past 55 years and has 800 employees today. Kuehn was a professor using leading-edge analytics, including WW II innovations such as Artificial Intelligence and advanced statistical inference for problems posed by firms or their management consultants.
In 1953, his first clients were Crucible Steel, #1 producer of tool steels, and Reed Smith, largest Pittsburgh law firm, which engaged Kuehn to pursue anti-trust research to help defend its clients cited in the 1948 Paramount Case. In 1954, Unilever also became aware of Kuehn’s “advertising” and “brand shifting” models, and provided access to its internal data, which led to R&D on Market Structure and a simulation of the Detergent Industry market. McKinsey, today’s leading management consultant, an accounting spin-off from the University of Chicago, began teaming with Lever Brothers and MSA in 1956 to supplement MSA’s marketing innovations. Arthur D. Little, founded in 1886 as the world’s first management consultancy, an MIT spin-off, also began using MSA’s Warehouse Location capability in 1958 to solve some of its international and US clients’ developmental opportunities for many years.
Lack of computers had been a major limitation, so GSIA and Lever Brothers both acquiring IBM-650s in 1956 aided Kuehn’s development efforts. The IBM-650s were a first step to begin applying analytics to what is now called “BIG DATA.” But their I/O and internal memory was limited, so MSA rented time on an IBM-704 computer being used to simulate nuclear reactions. In 1965, MSA shifted all its work to a Seymour Cray-designed CDC-3600 in MD, said to be his first Supercomputer. When Cray designed a CDC-3200 that was more cost-effective for MSA, Cray offered to have one installed at CIT, but CIT was partnering on a Bendix G20, so MSA shifted the CDC-3200 to Duquesne University in 1967. That redirected MSA’s development significantly, as MSA had to dedicate itself to building and operating that data center for a year. In 1968, MSA then also installed a second CDC-3200 at its own new data center at MSA Shadyside. That facility was then expanded until 1987 to host many new innovative systems from CDC, DEC, IBM, Xerox and other suppliers.
This was the forerunner of MSA’s IT department (now Information Technology Systems & Services – ITSS). It gave MSA, Duquesne and other local clients the best capabilities for high reliability in Pittsburgh, enabling MSA to provide timely statistically significant analyses of advertising and other marketing factors from 1968-1975 for major CPG clients. This feat enabled leading universities and research firms to verify the accuracy of what they had been unable to duplicate. Seymour Cray said, “Anyone can build a fast CPU; the trick is to build a fast system.” MSA was innovative in achieving that for itself and its clients. That guided the design and construction of MSA’s subsequent data centers to maximize benefits for firms using its centers!
MSA has gained an abundance of knowledge over time about the construction and maintenance of data centers. In its headquarters, MSA still uses the data center that was the core of its business from 1987-2002. That data center has had and continues to achieve a phenomenal performance record.
Throughout the years, MSA has always been on the leading edge of technology under Dr. Kuehn’s guidance. One example of early developments was creating and operating scoreboard animations at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh and Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia. Also in 1970, MSA developed and launched the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system’s first computer switching and commercial multi-tasking message board. From 1973-1980, MSA played a major role in developing the Universal Product Code (UPC) system and using Newspaper Advertising Bureau scanner data from 1,200 supermarkets to project weekly/monthly brand market shares, which led Nielsen after three years to replace its historic bi-monthly share reports.
MSA’s next data center, RockPointe, opened in 2002. This additional data center enabled MSA to improve its system reliability, disaster recovery, cost-effectiveness, and hosting capabilities. It solved issues in Business Continuity & Disaster Recovery (BC/DR) that MSA and its clients discovered existed in services provided by national DR suppliers. MSA invested in 18.7 miles of redundant optic fiber that connected the sites with different primary sources of electric power and adjusted its solutions after the 9/11 disaster in 2001, and after the Sarbanes Oxley Act (SOx) was passed in 2002.
One of MSA’s first data center customers was uncertain about using MSA’s service instead of that offered by “high-profile” national sources of DR capabilities, due to high penalties specified by SOx in the event of a failure. MSA responded, “If you believe a failure is guaranteed to occur, choose IBM to be able to say you chose what you thought was best. But if you have confidence in what we’ve created and maintain at state-of-the-art levels for all clients and industry groups relying on MSA facilities, get the best assurance of no failures by choosing MSA.” MSA was chosen and others followed. Duquesne University then also continued using MSA facilities, enhancing its partnering with MSA for 52 years since 1967.
During the 2010 G20 Conference in Pittsburgh, MSA provided DR space in facilities with communications to satisfy MSA clients, and also a firm that had not been a client. That required MSA’s facilities and experience to create innovative solutions to assure its system not being impacted by the unexpected actions of any of the 28 nations.
MSA acquired an additional site in 2010 and constructed a third state-of-the-art data center, Evergreen. That expanded and further improved its interconnected data center services in 2013.
MSA then and now provides analytics to many industry groups: consumer packaged goods, healthcare, media, steel, casino gaming and others using two primary state-of-the-art data centers, thousands of computers and petabytes of storage. MSA’s ITSS can provide data center services to all third parties similar to those used by MSA’s operating business units.
MSA’s two prime data centers are part of the core of its entire suite of analytic solutions. MSA owns and operates these most secure data centers in the U.S., and is the only provider in Pittsburgh with two regionally redundant Tier III-equivalent data centers. These state-of-the-art facilities enable clients to focus on their business and include:
— Full SSAE 18 SOC compliance (SOC2 Type 2)
— Highly secure tiers of multi-factor access controls
— Electric power from two separate and distinct utility companies
— Complete coverage through internal and external video monitoring
— Performance that exceeds Tier III uptime standards
— Numerous options for telecom, internet and cloud connectivity
MSA has flexibility to provide full suite, private cage or any quantity of racks to meet IT infrastructure needs: 1 to 100+, with best-in-class technology skills from specialists and technology experts. These MSA Pittsburgh data centers maintain fully staffed control centers, 24/7/365. Continuous monitoring is available around the clock onsite for support of critical IT infrastructure.
MSA understands the criticality of connectivity in today’s world. Its internal businesses and external customers must have data in a timely fashion, delivered securely and accurately, requiring services and networks available at all times. MSA designs its core networks and services with redundancy as a prime requirement. Its blended internet service combines multiple Internet Service Providers across facilities to provide a bandwidth-as-a-service model to MSA and its customers. The bandwidth-as-a-service allows for bursting bandwidth and rapid elasticity to meet customers’ needs. MSA supplies many connectivity options, including MSA-lit fiber providing added redundancy and security to their regional data centers. MSA has relationships with many connectivity partners to ensure that customers will have a connectivity option that meets their needs.
Similar to MSA’s internal business units’ clients, ITSS has customers across many industries. Firms in healthcare, manufacturing, information technology, higher education, banking and insurance trust MSA’s ITSS to be their data center service provider. Service options are secure enough for heightened requirements of healthcare data to be satisfied with flexibility to permit innovative experimentation. Security is inherent in MSA’s culture with MSA storing data from all competitors in some industries. Managing the receipt, storage, processing and distribution of deliverables requires MSA to prioritize security. From the physical security, processes and procedures of the entry to the facility to the many security requirements of MSA audits, security is a core competency of ITSS.
MSA/ITSS continuously evaluates and implements applications/workloads for migration to cloud, creating cloud experts. These experts can help determine risks, costs and pitfalls of moving to clouds. A cloud team can evaluate situations, determine the optimal plans (e.g. which cloud or no cloud at all) and then build them. Such cloud services can apply to complete IT infrastructures, a single project or an application. MSA’s experience can help users mitigate risk, streamline migration and choose the best solution.
MSA’s operating businesses account for about forty percent of its data center activities – MSA subscribes to the same services as ITSS customers, as such services are critical. This provides a significant advantage to ITSS’s customer base, as they get the same level of service as MSA’s other business units.
MSA’s Past, Ongoing and Future Plans – MSA enabled the cable TV industry in the 1980s to integrate a thousand cable communities into cable TV networks, and has serviced over 107 such networks. MSA also overcame environmental challenges within steel mills, using innovative communication technology to improve safety using cranes. MSA’s long history in successful introduction of innovations, before industry standards were available, has at times resulted in MSA’s solutions being accepted as industry standards “because they work!” These successful leading-edge industry services for cable TV, steel, e-cig vaping and casino gaming now serve as models for MSA to help the new Hemp/CBD industry and Sports Betting to grow and prosper.
The recent legalization of Sports Betting in Pennsylvania has enabled MSA to develop systems and procedures to help PA casino operators manage operational risk. Another recent MSA innovation, Savvy Citizen, is now in use by 30 Pittsburgh-area communities and is being adopted by other communities across PA and neighboring states. MSA analytics and capabilities to integrate data from across the US in secure, accessible, and reliable local facilities continues to create jobs in the Pittsburgh region.
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