“Cloud400™ Contributes To A Real Watershed Moment For The Growth Of Equitable Life & Casualty With A Target System In Sync And Failover Ready.”
Equitable Life & Casualty is a Salt Lake City–based insurance company that provides a variety of life and health insurance products that are targeted toward older Americans. Equitable’s products include Medicare supplemental plans, whole life insurance, and long-term health care (illness) coverage.
John Sullivan is Director of Office Operations. He manages the office data group, records group and centralized mail group and supervises 10 employees. Equitable Life & Casualty has 150 employees.
In early 2012, Equitable had just upgraded from an IBM 9406-525 (520) to a new POWER7 i 8202- E4C to support its 150 users. John had plans for a high availability failover solution.
Cost Constraint Leads To Remote Journaling
As John explains, “We originally thought about replicating data to a target POWER7 i CBU server. The price of the CBU with 7 TB of disk storage came in over $100,000. Due to cost constraint, we instead chose to pursue a remote journaling product with hosted solution.
“If there had been unlimited funds, we probably would have bought a CBU. But as time went on, we began to investigate other options. We started talking about cloud computing in earnest as an option.”
Everyone’s Talking About Cloud – And It Turned Out To Be More Cost-Effective
Scott Allen, Equitable’s Chief Technology Officer, read about Cloud400 in the December 2011 edition of Source Data’s The Insider, and suggested to John that he check it out.
John adds, “Everyone is talking about the cloud. We coincidentally Googled for ‘AS400 cloud solutions’ and Cloud400 was on the top. We started looking at the Cloud400 web site. The site had a presentation of relative cost, how to assess our hosting needs, and the 7 steps to test Cloud400. Stuff like that. Everything we saw just seemed to make it more interesting.
“When we compared the cost of the IBM CBU and Cloud400, the cloud approach just made lots of sense.
“We were able to take advantage of the Vision price guarantee to move from RecoverNow to a Vision remote journaling product like iTera and conserve my investment. It helped that the Cloud400 team is a reseller of iTera and very familiar with that product. When we talked to the Cloud400 team they were super-knowledgeable of iTera. All the pieces of the puzzle seemed to fit together.”
Equitable COO Visits Cloud400 For Onsite Assessment
“We sent my boss, Rob Anderson, our Chief Operating Officer, to Minnesota to check out Cloud400 at the Implex data center in Minneapolis. It was kind of easy because Rob lives in Minnesota and commutes into Salt Lake City to work with us. So we gave him a little ‘to-do’ on his way home one weekend.
“Everyone there at Cloud400 made a super impression on him. He felt good about it.
“We had looked at one other option as a collocation in Minnesota. Rob looked at them also. They were not even in the same ballpark as Cloud400.
“When he came back from that Minnesota trip, he gave Cloud400 two thumbs up.
“He said the Cloud400 team knew what they were doing, had been in business a long time, really knew OS400 – it was a load off our mind. Everything just seemed to come together. We had a good feeling about it. You know – everyone knows what ‘Minnesota nice’ is and these Cloud400 people take it to a whole new level.”
Equitable Selects MIMIX For High Availability Replication
“We decided to go with MIMIX instead of iTera. The iTera product did not support tape sync – that was when we were looking at moving the IFS by tape, Also, there were some features that used to be in iTera that were stripped out to differentiate MIMIX as the more robust Vision high availability product. It turned out to be fine because the Cloud400 guys stuck with me.”
Cloud400 Testing For Equitable Starts In June 2012
“I started talking seriously with the Cloud400 group in May 2012. As things came together with our need for 7 TB of disk capacity, Cloud400 ordered a new POWER7 i for the testing we started in June 2012. Within a couple of weeks they had a partition carved out for us and we went to work.”
Cloud400 Pricing Includes IBM Software Fees, IBM Hardware And Software Support
“The IBM licensing works out great. I did not even know about this option. Cloud400 includes all the IBM software we need, all the user licensing, and the processor activation fees. We don’t pay any IBM software or hardware maintenance fees. Those unexpected savings really add up.”
Cloud400 Has Flexible Resource Allocation
“Another thing that came together for us is how the majority of the machine resources are directed at the machine pool, but we get enough horsepower to get our replication from our source to target journal applies that if we ever declare an actual emergency there is a set amount of CPU and memory that will be released from the machine pool to us. We have enough horsepower with that so that Cloud400 can be our failover production system.”
Cloud400 Goes Above And Beyond To Allocate More Resources When Needed – For No Extra Cost
“Because we have to comply with HIPAA and PCI, we decided to transmit our data from our production server in Salt Lake City to Cloud400 in Minnesota, instead of sending an encrypted tape. The approach just over-whelmed the journal applies on the Cloud400 machine because we had so many FTPs and job threads running all at the same time. But with a simple phone call, Cloud400 resolved that for me – you guys just dialed up the Cloud400 resources for me. We were in business in a couple of days so this extra temporary resource was more than adequate. You guys went above and beyond my expectations because you gave me so much machine resources that I was getting the “nasty-grams” that I had exceeded my software requirements. Then we dialed it back and everything was good. I knew this was temporary but I was more than willing to pay for it … I needed that extra resource … but the Cloud400 guys helped me over the hump and now I’m set.”
The Cloud400 Team’s Technical Capabilities Are Fantastic
“The Cloud400 guys were super-attentive to our needs. Bob Hall set up our VPN access lickety-split so we could get outside of our network. He helped install a Cisco router at the data center to get Cloud400 configured quickly while we waited for a data pipe to be delivered and installed for our actual replication data. So, now we have a main pipe and a failover in place.
“Darren Anderson helped us with Cloud400 LPAR configuration and setting up the independent ASP (iASP) required by MIMIX.
“And Bob Kennedy is just a pleasant guy to talk with … it is always nice to chat with him. Just a super nice guy.”
Cloud400 Works – And We Breathe Easier
“The Cloud400 testing went really smooth. We have done some program testing so we know everything works the way it is supposed to. That really takes a load off our minds.
“Everybody at Equitable can breathe easier – top management, developers, and the people in the know — knowing what’s in place with Cloud400 and the situation we are in now.
“This weekend we had a tape drive fail. We tried to restart our save to tape. Long story short, the tape drive is no longer serviceable. IBM is shipping us a replacement drive but no one is concerned because we know the data is replicating to Cloud400 in Minnesota as backup.
“A couple of times per year, we will schedule to do the round trip to validate our business continuity. I am really not concerned because I know if I went down right now I can see that we are protected. Everything is looking good.”
Our Business Partners Will Be Excited With Our New Failover Capabilities
“We are also excited because Business Continuity with Cloud400 tells a good story to our Business Partners about our failover capabilities. On our next audit we have a really good story to tell. I expect that to go very smooth for us as well.
“We have one major Business Partner. They have re-insurers. We are regulated. They are regulated. So every state we do business in, the regulators have an opportunity to investigate and audit us about every 3 years.
“We had looked at buying a CBU system. Of course there is the cost of the hardware – over $100,000.
“There is the minimum number of user licenses that are required. There is a processor activation fee. You have to license your development suite. You need to buy IBM hardware and software support. You also have software vendors that want a ‘piece of the pie’.
“Those costs really add up. Cloud400 is just more cost- effective.
“Also, with Cloud400 I am able to negotiate two role swaps per year without relicensing the software. Just worked out really well.
“Cloud400 has great advantages. You have new hardware in place ready to go for you. It is a good business model where the machine pool can be released at a moment’s notice to someone in need. It works well with software licensing and IBM support already in place.
“This is a real watershed moment for the growth of the company that we have a target system in sync and failover ready.