Case Study: Clinical Financial Services, LLC

Clinical Financial Services Uses EVault to Reduce Its DR Risk and Reassure Clients

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Located in the heart of the “Pharma-Belt” in suburban Philadelphia, Clinical Financial Services, LLC (CFS) is the pharmaceutical industry’s only company focused exclusively on the financial management of clinical trials. The Company’s core competencies include an in-depth knowledge and understanding of clinical trial budgets and agreements, contract negotiation and administration, and finance and accounting specific to clinical trials.

In addition to extensive process management, Glen Slater, Vice-President of IT for CFS, would tell you that technology also plays a large part in the successful management, tracking, invoicing and billing for clinical trials. The company has a Web-based ecosystem of software and services to automate the typically cumbersome tasks of payment and billing for both clinical trial sponsors and their associated trial sites. In fact, CFS has successfully managed complicated trials throughout the U.S. and is now rolling the service out on a global basis.

Goals

Confident in CFS’s ability to manage clinical trials’ associated contracts and payments, Slater admitted to being less so about his ability to keep core technologies up and running in the aftermath of a potential catastrophic or regional disruption. A reputable managed service provider (MSP) in the nearby New Jersey area had developed and was hosting servers containing CFS’s proprietary SQL Server-based transaction and payment engine. The MSP was also responsible for managing CFS’s local Exchange server from afar.

The MSP provided a first-layer backup of the data and applications at its facility, and to exceed pharmaceutical industry best practices, CFS was interested in implementing a second layer of protection in the event of a disaster. The company was looking for an integrated offsite disaster recovery solution that would not only protect their data but also facilitate recovery of its key business systems in case its headquarters was unavailable as a result of a disaster. After learning about EVault™ SaaS data protection and the related EVault Remote Disaster Recovery services from EVault™, A Seagate Company, Slater was hopeful the combination could:

  • Provide disaster preparedness allowing key business systems to be up and running in 24 hours and ensure that its clients’ data was securely backed up and quickly recoverable
  • Bolster its risk management strategy to better reflect more thorough, pharmaceutical industry practices surrounding backup and disaster recovery
  • Establish a more turn-key DR testing process able to be audited by pharmaceutical sponsors
  • Implement faster, more automated disaster recovery and back up and restore data “over the cloud,” a key element in CFS’s technology ecosystem

Challenges

Slater knew a better DR plan would not only bolster his firm’s risk management efforts but also reassure the clients looking to broaden the firm’s role. He wanted CFS to be ready when they began asking to review and audit the firm’s processes and service levels for adequate data security, backup, and remote disaster recovery. Slater had already investigated and implemented EVault SaaS data protection several months earlier to provide CFS with an added backup “hedge” in case something happened to his MSP’s New Jersey site. “We found out about EVault from a report and developed a good relationship with them. We knew we needed an enhanced backup strategy so we did some research and made the decision to go forward with EVault SaaS,” he said. “It’s double-insurance for us: a backup of the backups the MSP already performed.”

Solutions

Slater used EVault SaaS initially to back up just his firm’s transaction data. He was pleased by the automation and daily email verifications, and with the support he received from EVault. So when he thought about how best to prepare his IT and DR processes for an upcoming review and audit by one of CFS’s pharmaceutical clients, EVault’s EVault Remote Disaster Recovery service seemed a natural fit.

“We needed to do more with EVault than back up our transactional data. We also needed to back up our proprietary system software and develop a formal DR plan,” he said. “With our current processes, a more widespread disaster could put us out of business if we didn’t improve our risk strategy. Added to that, our services were starting to take off. Companies wanted to audit us and know more about our remote DR plans. Formulating our plans drove us to move forward with EVault Remote Disaster Recovery that allowed us to have a comprehensive DR solution for our key business data and systems, including a DR testing process that could be audited.”

Slater couldn’t be happier with the all-in-one EVault backup and recovery/remote DR service. He gets assured online backups and the confidence his company can restore its billing and payment services in 24 hours or less should a catastrophe occur in Pennsylvania or New Jersey. DR testing went smoothly and actually improved protection by revealing that a server at the MSP was inadvertently omitted from backups. The testing process also proved useful for an IT audit underway by one of CFS’s clients. “I mentioned to our client we were using EVault for disaster data backup testing. The EVault data center is SAS-70 compliant and this fact was also well received.”

Slater’s interactions with EVault have all been positive. “I would just say that the work with the EVault setup team, the DR testing, and the overall follow through was extremely well done. That’s not always the case with other vendors. I’ve just been very pleased with the interactions we’ve had to date,” he said. Slater looks forward EVault’s EVault Data Protection services helping his company scale with data growth and its own ongoing marketing efforts.

“In a business like ours, if you want to work with the major global pharmaceutical companies, you need to have enterprise-level technology partners. We offer a very sophisticated service and companies like SAP, Microsoft and SalesForce.com are part of our ecosystem. We see a company like EVault, associated with Seagate, at the same level,” he noted. “For that reason, our service and software partners also have to be major players in their space. I manage an ecosystem and EVault has become an important CFS ecosystem partner.”