Credit Union Goes Online to Ease Backup Chores

Interior Federal Credit Union is one of many small businesses turning to online services to backup their data

November 15, 2008

3 Min Read
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Like many small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), employees at Interior Federal Credit Union wear many hats. Tyrone Santos is the firm's accounting manager, and he is responsible for some IT functions. As a result, he found himself sitting at his desk in Washington for close to an hour each night waiting for a backup tape to load before offloading that responsibility to an online backup supplier.

The financial services provider manages $100 million in assets and has 10,000 customers, who rely on it for ATM services, checking, credit cards, mortgages, and other services. The bulk of its IT services have been outsourced to Symitar, a division of Jack Henry & Associates Inc. that provides integrated computer systems to credit unions. However, the financial services firm needed someone to backup its data, and that responsibility fell to Santos.

The financial services company put a couple of backup procedures in place. The corporation would duplicate information onto a server stationed at a nearby branch in Reston, Va. In addition, Santos would take a tape each night to an off-site backup location, which he wouldn't discuss in any detail.

The first option was not ideal because the information could be lost if the two sites were knocked offline by weather or a natural disaster. The second approach was also problematic because the information was not encrypted as it moved from the company office to the off-site location. If the tape had been lost or stolen, the company could have ended up as front-page news because the information was unencrypted.

Such potential problems are pretty common as companies try to backup their data. "Many small and medium-sized businesses do not backup any of their data at all, and others who do sometimes do not do a very good job," said Adam W. Couture, principal research analyst at Gartner Inc.Santos looked at a couple of options to enhance the credit union's backup procedures. Symitar offered to put in a backup system, but it would have required buying and setting up a backup server at a price tag of about $50,000. The credit union also considered encrypting the tapes, but that approach came with a hefty cost of about $25,000.

With no staff and no budget to examine other possibilities, the credit union muddled along, knowing it courted disaster. Near the end of 2007, Santos received a telemarketing phone call from Seagate Technology Inc. (NYSE: STX)'s eVault -- which was renamed i365 in September.

The call prompted a quick look at online backup alternatives, with i365 and AmeriVault Corp. emerging as the top two possibilities. The former was attractive because its service was inexpensive and simple to set up. Interior Federal Credit has only about 4 Gigabytes of information that need to be backed up, and the cost would have been about $75 a month.

With its relatively small data backup needs, the financial services company fits the typical backup customer profile. Larger companies find it more difficult to justify the cost of these services, and backing up oodles of data over a WAN is often not feasible.

At first, Santos and later his boss were skeptical that the system would work as advertised. i365 support representatives came in and did a demonstration, backing up data for a few days. The tests were completed in the spring of 2008, and the company has been a customer ever since.Santos is now home earlier every night; the i365 backs up information during the day, so his end-of-day chores take less than five minutes. He also no longer has to worry about IT backup issues, instead focusing on his area of expertise: accounting.

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