GFMS Case Study: Have you ever switched brands – shampoo, blue jeans, cell phones come to mind – thinking you could get the same (or a similar) product at a better cost, only to find out that the value of the original product was totally worth it in the long run?
That’s a little how it went for Guaranty Fund Management Services (GFMS) and Sungard Availability Services (Sungard AS). Nearly five years ago, GFMS and Sungard AS enjoyed a strong relationship for disaster recovery and data replication services. GFMS manages the property and insurance guaranty associations for the six New England states, Virginia and Washington D.C., while Sungard AS provides managed IT services, information availability consulting services, and disaster recovery services.
I can see that Sungard AS has kept the same values in respect to people. They are highly specialised and committed, and backed with a strong chain of command and good leadership.
But it’s common practice to hold periodic supplier reviews to ensure the best services and pricing available, and in 2013, GFMS conducted an RFP process and eventually chose a new supplier. That cost-driven decision ended a 10-year relationship with Sungard AS, and led GFMS on a multi-year journey with a new supplier involving multiple failed DR tests, unmet SLAs (Service Level Agreements) and an unplanned platform change.
Rekindling the teamwork of their prior relationship, GFMS turned to Sungard AS in early 2017 and achieved a successful DR test in just 12 weeks. Memories of their previous beneficial relationship resurfaced, and Sungard AS helped GFMS once again achieve a resilient IT environment able to support insurance consumers and preserve the industry’s reputation.
A little background: GFMS acts as sort of fire department for insurance companies when they become insolvent; you only need the fire department when there’s an actual fire, but they must stand ready to perform a critical function on very short notice.
As such, GFMS manages terabytes of data for several states’ insurance guaranty associations and must respond at a moment’s notice to fulfill the claims of insolvent carriers in an emergency. Acting as a safety net for these states, thousands of people depend on the resilience of GFMS to issue payments to claimants and policy holders. Without a tested and proven recovery solution in place, GFMS was exposed to risks that needed to be addressed as quickly as possible.
Once they returned to Sungard AS, GFMS established a project plan and set an aggressive timeline. Sungard AS established a fully tested and managed cloud-based disaster recovery as a service environment, backup as a service, and Business Continuity – Workplace Recovery site for 40 IT and business staff members. And right on schedule, just 12 weeks later, Sungard AS initiated its first test and exceeded its expected four-hour recovery time objective by proving it could recovery GFMS’s systems and data in just two hours.
“I can see that Sungard AS has kept the same values in respect to people. They are highly specialised and committed, and backed with a strong chain of command and good leadership,” says Dimitar Kotzev, Vice President of Information Technology, GFMS. “From the very first meeting with our project manager, I knew we were in the right hands. In project meetings when technical issues don’t have an obvious owner, Sungard AS people step up and volunteer, saying ‘I’ll take care of that.’”
Today, if a disaster impacts the GFMS offices, employees can continue essential business operations from the Sungard AS recovery centre in Marlborough, Mass. “We’ve got nearly every insurance company represented on our boards, and they know that there is a guaranty fund system that works and protects not just the fund’s reputation, but overall industry reputation as well,” Kotzev concludes.
Learn more about Guaranty Fund Management Services and the Sungard AS solution they selected by reading the GFMS Case Study.