by Cindy Waxer

Data Storage: Delphi Capital Management Opts for Cloud Solutions

Mar 17, 2010
IT Strategy

How Phil Mentesana, chief technology officer at Delphi Capital Management, replaced the company’s clunky, tape-based data backup process with online storage solutions.

Phil Mentesana, chief technology officer at Delphi Capital Management, knew that backing up critical data to tapes and schlepping them offsite for safe storage wasn’t exactly a smart plan.

For one, Mentesana says, an administrator was spending 20 hours a week organizing and labeling tapes. Then there was reliability: occasional tape failures added to the New York-based insurance carrier’s IT headaches and operational costs. Simply put, recalls Mentesana, “It was a wreck and we had to fix it.”

Delphi Capital could have opted for a traditional on-premise approach to data backup. Instead, the company chose an increasingly trendy strategy: storing its data in the cloud. Mentesana selected i365’s EVault, a software-as-a-service online backup system he had already successfully implemented for a previous employer.

The EVault solution automatically compresses, encrypts and delivers Delphi Capital’s data over the Internet to an i365 data center. Delphi Capital determines what data should be backed up and how often, but EVault takes care of transmitting and storing the data offsite and maintains all the back-end hardware.

Before switching to EVault, the company backed up 750GB of uncompressed data using two tape appliances, each connected to its own server. By eliminating the need to package, label and ship tapes to an offsite facility every week, Mentesana avoided adding an IT administrator—a full-time position with an annual salary of about $60,000. What’s more, Delphi Capital’s IT team no longer sifts through logs looking for backup errors. EVault automatically notifies administrators when faults occur, giving them more time to focus on infrastructure, says Mentesana.

Better yet, i365 handles all maintenance and upgrade activities, eliminating ancillary costs that could run as high as $10,000. Mentesana says there was no telling when a drive or tape jukeboxes would need replacing. EVault allows Delphi Capital to “budget for backup” at a time when coffers everywhere are tight.

Still, Mentesana warns that cloud services aren’t always the cheaper option. Before making the switch, Delphi Capital conducted an in-depth cost-benefit analysis comparing the price of on-premise backup with an SaaS model. The findings: the two were “just about the same cost, plus or minus 5 percent.”

Another common misunderstanding is that SaaS solutions are easy to implement. Mentesana says the company needed to add a backup circuit and configure it with two points of presence so that traffic is automatically rerouted if one circuit fails. The price tag for adding a second circuit: $1,250 a month.

Nevertheless, Mentesana feels foolproof data backup is worth the expense. “Tape media is just not reliable,” he says, reason enough for him to back up online.

How it Adds Up

Delphi Capital Management

New York

Delphi Capital Management is an insurance carrier. The company was incorporated in 1989 and is a subsidiary of Delphi Financial Group, a billion-dollar public insurance holding company.

How Delphi Capital Saved: By replacing a tape-based backup system with an SaaS service, Delphi Capital eliminated 20 hours a week of mundane administrative tasks and avoided hiring an IT administrator at a salary of about $60,000 a year.

Tool Used:i365’s EVault Managed Backup Service

Time Frame: One week performing a cost-benefit analysis comparing the price of an on-premise approach with an SaaS model, as well as various providers of online backup services. The deployment of i365’s EVault was completed within hours.

Checks and Balances

Phil Mentesana, Delphi’s CTO, adopted a security checklist that involved verifying i365’s customer references, paying a premium to store its data in an iron-clad SunGard facility, retaining ownership of its data, and limiting i365’s access to data encryption keys.

Dedicated Resources

Because of the proprietary nature—and vast amount—of Delphi Capital’s data, Mentesana insisted on a dedicated vault to prevent its data commingling with that of other firms. A dedicated vault manager also ensures “English-speaking, timely” tech support.