Improved IT Operations and Disaster Preparedness at the State of Connecticut’s Insurance Department

Milford, CT, October 23, 2014 – Digital BackOffice today announced it completed the design and implementation of a new information technology system for the State of Connecticut’s Insurance Department (CID). The new system improves communications, reliability and access and ensures that critical IT functions will be operational and secure, even in the event of a serious incident or disaster. The project included a redevelopment of the Insurance Department’s IT structure, adding virtualized servers, network improvements, software upgrades, storage, off-site backup and more.

The Challenge

Connecticut’s Insurance Department works to regulate the insurance industry and serves the insurance concerns of citizens in the state of Connecticut. In many of its key functions the department collects, records and stores critical information that must be held securely. From individual citizens’ personal information gathered through the complaint advocacy and resolution process to insurer data, secure access and storage of data is critical to the department’s operations. The CID had identified a need to upgrade its IT systems to ensure business continuity, should the department need to provide services in the event of a serious incident or disaster. With recent “states of emergency” in Connecticut, including “Superstorm Sandy” and an October Nor’easter which wiped out power to significant portions of the state, ensuring the department’s disaster preparedness was critical, especially as insurance operations play an important role during such disasters.

“The CID needs to function at its best for our citizens when conditions are sometimes their worst. When Sandy and then the October power outages hit, improving our business continuity became an even more critical priority,” said Deputy Insurance Commissioner Anne Melissa Dowling. “However our in-house IT capabilities and resources were limited and we needed a vendor that could not only provide product upgrades and installation services, but who could also act as an advisor and project manager, delivering recommendations and a complete solution. That was where Digital BackOffice came in.”

The Solution

Digital BackOffice, a leader in information technology services, had provided IT solutions for various state and governmental agencies in the past, and was selected to assist the Connecticut Insurance Department. After reviewing the CID’s goals and objectives, the company set out to identify hardware, software and network upgrades that would be needed.

“The Department of Insurance was like a lot of state agencies,” said Dale Bruckhart, Vice President of Education & Public Sector Marketing at Digital BackOffice. “A data recovery system was needed, and equipment upgrades were required to build a reliable, secure and effective system to access information in the case of a disaster. Digital BackOffice is often selected for projects such as this, due to our diverse capabilities and services. We can advise on the best ways to solve IT problems, provide organizations with the products they need and set up the entire system. We really provide a complete solution. At the CID we worked to design, develop and implement a brand new IT structure that served their day-to-day needs, and would perform during a disaster scenario.”

Digital BackOffice performed an analysis of the Connecticut Insurance Department’s information technology infrastructure, and identified the following concerns:

  • A need to update hardware and software to support data recovery capabilities.
  • A need to upgrade network communications and access to allow for integration with the disaster recovery site, and operation from the recovery site, if needed.
  • A need to expand storage.
  • A need for a business continuity plan that allowed the CID to maintain operations and IT functionality even in the case of a disaster.

A team of engineers and project managers at Digital BackOffice reviewed the challenges at the CID, identifying and outlining solutions. With the company’s previous experience with state agencies, the team strategized solutions that complied with governmental regulations and existing state IT structures, building an effective plan of action that met budget requirements. Digital BackOffice outlined products and configurations that would work within existing state firewalls, and also developed a strategy to implement the upgrades so there was little downtime for the department, and little/no learning curve on the new technology for CID staff after implementation.

As part of the solution, Digital BackOffice provided and installed hardware including:

  • Hewlett-Packard ProLiant Gen8 virtual and terminal servers with Integrated Lights Out 4 (iLO 4) management, which allowed Digital BackOffice to remotely monitor and perform maintenance from off-site locations.
  • Server virtualization using Microsoft Hyper-V for fast and cost-effective virtualization that allowed server-side applications and communications to run quickly, more reliably and easily within existing Microsoft operating systems.
  • Multiple network adapter products that improved throughput, allowing faster data access and communications.
  • Hewlett-Packard StorageWorks P4000 G2 SAN storage management that cost-effectively met virtualization, business continuity and performance goals.

 Digital BackOffice also implemented a solution for business continuity and disaster preparedness for the Insurance Department’s IT operations. An off-site data backup center, located 30 miles from the CID’s Hartford offices, was set-up. Located at a state university, the facility had existing IT and bandwidth capabilities that could be leveraged for the CID, as well as infrastructure benefits, including electricity generators that could run equipment in case of power outages. Digital BackOffice added virtualized servers at the off-site location for CID data backup and storage, and configured virtualized networks. In a disaster situation the 140-person CID staff could operate at the off-site facility, using the university’s library as an emergency operating location, while maintaining secure communications.

“We worked to provide smart, effective solutions that would meet the CID’s business continuity and operational needs – technology and systems that would serve them now and also in the future,” said Francis Palacio, President at Digital BackOffice. “We utilized some great products at the CID – like the HP ProLiant Gen8 servers with ‘Lights-Out’ remote monitoring and high availability HP 4000 SAN to provide robust, straight-forward and reliable data storage and communications. We also set-up secure virtual private networks that allowed for telecommuting and satellite operation in case of a disaster. At CID we did what we do best: work like a customer’s IT partner to deliver the best products and solutions. We’re very pleased with the positive response we’ve had from the Connecticut Insurance Department, and are always ready to provide customer support and service should they need us in the future.”

In addition to upgrades that meet the CID’s current needs, the Digital BackOffice team also provided technologies that would solve longer-term issues. For example, the company selected an advanced version of Microsoft Windows for the department’s operating system (OS). The OS is able to encrypt data statically, so that if a server or piece of hardware is stolen, the data stored on it is not accessible without the proper network access credentials. While statewide updates are needed to fully realize the value of this technology, its utilization reduces future costs, and prepares the department for what lies ahead.

Since its completion in August of 2014, the Connecticut Insurance Department has successfully implemented the new IT solutions, and believes it is well-prepared for any business continuity challenges.

“We are very happy, not only with our new IT system, but also with how the team at Digital BackOffice helped us through the process,” said CID Deputy Commissioner Dowling. “We relied on them for insight and advice on virtually everything having to do with hardware, software, networking and IT performance, and the outcome has exceeded our goals. We have much more confidence in data communications and accessibility structures, and our ability to serve insurers and citizens during an emergency.”

About the Connecticut Insurance Department

Founded in 1871, the State of Connecticut Insurance Department serves consumers and industry professionals, and is responsible for regulating the insurance industry and its compliance with all Connecticut laws and regulations with regard to the business of insurance. The CID’s functions include the license, review and evaluation of insurance companies; the examination insurance company’s market conduct; the handling of insurance complaints; and the regulation of insurance policy forms, rates and programs.

About Digital BackOffice

A leader in managed information technologies, networking and cloud-based services, Digital BackOffice has provided IT products, service and support since 1998. The company serves business, corporate, educational, state agency and government customers throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic United States with complete IT solutions, including project management, hardware and software sales, telecommunications, hosting and data storage. Digital BackOffice is a division of Advanced Corporate Networking (ACN), with offices in Milford, CT and a world-class SOC SSAE 16 certified data center in Wilton, CT.

Digital BackOffice is a State of Connecticut certified minority business, a qualified set aside contractor, and maintains sales and service certifications with: Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, Cisco, iBoss, Zix and other leading IT vendors. The Digital BackOffice staff have an average of 20+ years IT experience and are dedicated to providing the highest levels of technical support and customer service. For more information of Digital BackOffice, please visit: www.digitalbackoffice.com.

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