Illinois Mutual Reduces Cost Per Terabyte by Nearly 70%

Cohesity Data Management Provides Simplicity and Efficiency

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At a Glance

Illinois Mutual is a trustworthy, experienced and caring provider of life insurance, disability insurance, and voluntary worksite insurance products. With a main data center in Peoria, and a co-location in Bloomington, Illinois, the IT team relies heavily on the cloud for disaster recovery (DR) and data protection.

Challenges

The complexity of managing tape and legacy infrastructure, along with increased time required for incremental data backups, led the IT team to seek out new solutions. Illinois Mutual needed a flexible solution to enable data reduction with deduplication, and allow encryption at the same time.

Solution

Having considered solutions from IBM, Rubrik, Veeam, and others, Cohesity’s ability to maximize the Hyper-V investment was key, in addition to seamless backup and recovery for Hyper-V 2016. A modern, web-scale platform from Cohesity would also cost less than a support renewal for the Company’s existing infrastructure.

Results

Cohesity reduced the amount of time IT staff dedicated to administration for data management by nearly 50%. The IT team now can move data from on-premises to AWS or Microsoft Azure, completing cloud restore seamlessly and quickly.

Overview

Founded in 1910 by the same family that leads the company today, Illinois Mutual is a trustworthy, experienced, and caring provider of life insurance, disability insurance, and voluntary worksite insurance products. Committed to serving the middle market, Illinois Mutual helps people achieve and safeguard their financial security.

An A.M. Best Financial Strength Rating of A- (Excellent) demonstrates Illinois Mutual’s strong commitment to their employees, agents and policyowners.

Illinois Mutual distributes its products nationwide through more than 18,000 independent agents. The Company’s Home Office is based in Peoria, Illinois, and serves policyowners in 47 states.

Challenges

With a main data center in Peoria, and a co-location in Bloomington, Illinois, the IT team relies heavily on the cloud for disaster recovery (DR) and data protection. Several years ago, the Company began to evaluate its IT infrastructure. Backup and recovery required excessive administrative time from IT staff, and the IT team wanted to identify a better solution for replication between its data centers. The complexity of managing tape and legacy infrastructure, along with increased time required for incremental data backups, led the IT team to seek out new solutions.

Security was an additional concern for the IT team. The existing solution did not have the capability for encryption simultaneously with deduplication and compression. In addition, support renewals were due to expire for Commvault and NetApp, and Illinois Mutual looked to consolidate the number of platform solutions utilized, for greater efficiency and increased performance.

Illinois Mutual targeted the following capabilities in a data management solution:

  • Single platform for software-defined data management
  • Seamless integration with leading cloud platforms
  • Reduced complexity and simplified management
  • Support for Microsoft Hyper-V

Solution

Desiring to greatly simplify data protection management in its environment, Illinois Mutual set out to identify new solutions. “After doing analysis and research for quite a while, we had all but given up on finding a solution to meet our needs,” explains Gifford. While at a Gartner Infrastructure and Operations Conference, Illinois Mutual was introduced to Cohesity’s software-defined platform, fulfilling many of the company needs for next-gen backup and recovery that other solutions could not provide.

Having considered solutions from IBM, Rubrik, Veeam, and others, Cohesity’s ability to maximize the Hyper-V investment was key, in addition to seamless backup and recovery for Hyper-V 2016. After realizing a modern, web-scale platform from Cohesity would cost less than a support renewal for the Company’s existing infrastructure, it was a relatively clear decision to move forward with Cohesity. Illinois Mutual deployed Cohesity DataPlatform and DataProtect for web-scale backup and recovery, as well as Scale-Out NAS, Long-Term Retention, and Security and Compliance.

Not only did we save nearly $350K in TCO and reduced our storage cost per terabyte by nearly 70%, we also gained tremendous efficiency and simplicity by implementing Cohesity for data management. Our IT teams reduced time spent on administration by half. Cohesity’s depth of features for data insight and security, as well as using Cohesity for additional NAS capabilities, will be instrumental moving forward for our environment.”

– Shawn Gifford, Senior Infrastructure Administrator and Infrastructure Team Lead

Results

Illinois Mutual deployed Cohesity across the entire environment. “After discovering the automation strengths of the Cohesity platform, we were off and running. We decreased complexity, consolidated our hardware and software layers into a single solution, and solved the security challenges around data management at Illinois Mutual,” states Gifford.

More than anything, Illinois Mutual needed a flexible solution to enable data reduction with deduplication, and allow encryption at the same time. The IT team now can move data from on-premises to AWS or Microsoft Azure, completing cloud restore seamlessly and quickly. Illinois Mutual can also integrate views with Microsoft EFS and Cohesity snapshots, and the Company will work to move NAS and file share views onto Cohesity in the next few months.

Illinois Mutual has also leveraged Cohesity for DR during a recent disruption. Although the company has Nimble arrays at each data center and handled the majority of the primary failovers, Cohesity was able to recover additional machines quickly to deliver on tight RPO and RTO for minimal disruption.

With an Insurance Systems Modernization (ISM) program actively progressing, Illinois Mutual anticipates data volumes to double in the next 18 months. As an insurance provider, the Company retains a majority of data for 25 years, and Cohesity’s ability to move data to the cloud is instrumental. By streamlining backup and recovery across the board, the IT team can further solidify its DR plan. Cohesity reduced the amount of time IT staff dedicated to administration for data management by nearly 50%.

The Company is pleased to use Cohesity Helios, allowing machine-level learning and the ability to have greater insight into its data. The reporting features with Helios have proved valuable and were a missing link with the previous solution. Cohesity’s DataLock capability provides an additional layer of protection against ransomware attacks.

Illinois Mutual has also taken advantage of additional Cohesity features and applications through the Cohesity MarketPlace, including SentinelOne to run antivirus directly through Cohesity DataPlatform. The Runbook application allows the IT team to easily move workloads between on-premises and the cloud, which will continue to expand as data volumes grow.

Illinois Mutual realized many benefits with Cohesity including:

  • Consolidating from 10 to 2 hardware and software layers for replication in a single solution, with simultaneous deduplication and encryption
  • Reducing data restore times by 40% and backup times by nearly 95%
  • Saving nearly $350K in TCO and total cost savings of 2x
  • Reducing time spent on administration by nearly 50%

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