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Trusted Partners

Outsourcing breathes new life into Southland Insurance’s IT environment


Bentley Pearson says he looked to SafeData for a one-stop, turnkey storage and disaster-recovery solution.

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CUSTOMER: Southland National Insurance Corporation
HEADQUARTERS: Tuscaloosa, Ala.
BUSINESS: Insurance provider for advanced funeral planning
HARDWARE: An IBM System i 520
SOFTWARE: Falcon Systems Inc.’s life administration system
CHALLENGE: Reducing IT staff while maintaining operational efficiencies, including business continuance
SOLUTION: Outsourcing its PC-server environment and contracting with SafeData for disaster recovery

I’m a big believer in outsourcing whenever possible,” says Bentley Pearson, VP of information services with the Tuscaloosa, Ala.-based Southland National Insurance Corporation. “The more I can put into the hands of another trusted company instead of our IT department, the better off the company is.”

Pearson should know: He’s Southland’s sole IT employee. Without outsourcing, he’d be wading through the neckdeep waters of everyday IT troubleshooting, unable to help the company innovate and increase market share in what’s becoming an increasingly competitive industry.

Pearson’s still actively involved in Southland’s dayto-day IT activities. He ensures systems are properly tuned, maintains tight integration between his POWER5* technology-based IBM System i* 520 and managed Windows* servers and applications, and provides worryfree business continuity.

Regarding the latter, Pearson has taken steps to ensure that, at worst, the company will lose no more than a day’s worth of processing should something catastrophic happen to its IT assets. And he’s done so not with an expensive, mirrored box and replication software, but by partnering with SafeData on an offsite, third-party support system. He explains, “SafeData has an appliance here that sweeps my IT environment—including both the System i server and my Windows network—identifies changed data, compresses it and, once a day, transmits it to SafeData, which places those changed data objects in a vault.”

This type of partnering has become increasingly vital in today’s computing environment, especially with shrinking IT budgets. Pearson says the key is to find the right partners and trust them to do what they’ve been charged to do.

For Southland and its relationship with its Windows-technology hosting company and SafeData, this has turned out to be an essential insurance policy.

“If something goes wrong, we can be up and running again within 10 hours or so, with—in a worst-case scenario—only a day’s worth of processing to recover.” —Bentley Pearson, VP of information services, Southland National Insurance Corporation

Jim Utsler, IBM Systems Magazine senior writer, has been covering the technology field for more than a decade. Jim can be reached at jjutsler@provide.net.



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