National Financial Partners

August 10, 2015

CHALLENGES
With over 2900 full-time employees and a rapidly growing base of subsidiary firms, NFP placed a high priority on effectively meeting regulatory compliance requirements and proactively preparing for e-discovery requests. When their in-house email archive became prohibitively expensive to manage and unable to scale to meet their growth, they decided to look for an alternative.

SOLUTION
As a fully scalable, on-demand solution built on a grid infrastructure, Proofpoint Email Archiving offered the flexibility that NFP needed to continue to grow their business and onboard new subsidiaries as needed, while meeting their search and discovery requirements. The stubbing functionality also addressed their storage issues.

RESULTS

  • Projected to lowered overall email related costs by 18-20 percent
  • Eliminated over $25,000 in annual backup tape costs
  • Reduced staff hours from 60 hours a week to fewer than ten
  • Reduced e-discovery search times from hours to minutes improved customer experience

CHALLENGE:
To deal with its rapidly-growing base of subsidiary firms, NFP’s IT team must ensure that the firm’s technology systems can scale to accommodate large numbers of new users with little or no notice. When one of these systems—the in-house email archive—began experiencing performance issues, it became apparent that the solution was not equipped to meet their needs. The firm then decided to look for a new archive that would accommodate their growth while allowing them to effectively meet regulatory compliance requirements and take a proactive approach to e-discovery.

"As the organization expanded, our email usage was growing rapidly—large attachments were common, and people were increasingly using email to replace other forms of communication," said Stuart Tainsky, SVP of Technology at NFP. "As we added new users, our space requirements were growing exponentially. Our email traffic growth rate was averaging 3GB/ day, which was choking the archive to death, and causing us some serious performance issues."

With over four terabytes of data in the archive, searches were prohibitively time consuming, taking an average of six to eight hours for one simple search of six months' worth of archived data. Making the situation worse, the indexes were often corrupted, resulting in random error messages and searches needing to be started again.

"Re-indexing had to be done on a regular basis, which required us to take the stores offline," said Dan Salomon, V.P. of Technology. "As the maintenance window grew, we got to the point where theoretically, to manage the re-indexing process effectively, we would have to keep the stores offline longer than they would be on-line. And that doesn’t take into account the fact that any time we had to add storage, we also had to take down the system and reconfigure things."

In addition to the archiving management issues they faced, NFP found it was becoming cost-prohibitive to continue increasing storage and keep up with backup expenses. With over $35,000 a year spent on backup tapes for email data alone, their backup costs were also increasing exponentially.

“It ultimately became a continuous battle to manage the in-house archiving operation while still keeping expenses at reasonable levels," said Tainsky.

SOLUTION:
After spending months trying to fix the issues with their original archive, the team at NFP decided to look for a different solution that would ensure that all email was being captured for legal and regulatory reasons, while helping to manage the size of their Exchange stores.

"After looking at a couple of options, it was clear to us that a hosted or SaaS solution was the only way to go if we wanted to effectively manage our internal staffing costs.” said Tainsky. "From there, it was just a matter of finding the right partner with the right toolset to meet our needs,"

As a fully scalable, on-demand solution, Proofpoint offered the flexibility that NFP needed to continue to grow their business and onboard new subsidiaries on an as-needed basis. The stubbing functionality also addressed their storage issues.

"Proofpoint had everything we were looking for—it almost seemed too good to be true,” said Tainsky.

BENEFITS:

Unlimited Scalability
The Proofpoint solution was built on a grid infrastructure to scale on-demand without impacting performance. As a result, NFP can be confident that when they add new users to the system, there will not be any negative affect on the archive or the email system as a whole. Additionally, there is no client-side software installation, and since Proofpoint integrates with Active Directory server, any changes made to AD are automatically recognized by the archive.

Everyday, there is the potential for new acquisitions, and we need to be prepared to bring on hundreds of new users with little to no notice. With Proofpoint, we can eliminate the physical limitations to growth, giving us the ultimate flexibility to expand as needed," said Tainsky.

Improved Email Storage Management
Faced with constant growth, the team at NFP struggled to get a clear picture of where their biggest problems were with their Exchange server. After implementing Proofpoint, the archive reporting tool clearly showed that as much as 80 percent of their email space was taken up by attachments.

"By stubbing those attachments away from the Exchange environment and over to Proofpoint, we can clean up about 80 percent of our mailbox size, which will be a tremendous help to us in maintaining the performance of our email server,” said Salomon. “It also allows us to offer a cap of three years on our users’ inboxes—we couldn’t afford to be that generous without Proofpoint in place."

The firm is also giving end-users access to search their archived mail in real-time from Outlook. "We want our business users to have as much freedom with email as possible, because we recognize that it’s the main communication mechanism for many of our firms," said Tainsky.

"We need to do everything we can to keep things in a delicate balance where we’re keeping email storage sizes at a reasonable level while giving our users the ability to effectively operate their business without technology being a hindrance."

Faster, More Reliable e-Discovery Search With their previous solution, NFP’s IT team was spending an average of three to five days on an e-discovery request. By reducing the time a single search takes from six to eight hours down to less than 10 seconds, Proofpoint makes it possible to conduct certain e-discovery requests in just hours.

In addition, with real-time search from a browser interface, NFP’s legal team can easily conduct early case assessment and perform a large e-discovery search directly, with limited assistance of IT.