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Business Value Analysis: Screen Actors Guild—Producers Pension and Health Plans

IT in Starring Role at Screen Actors Guild—Producers Pension and Health Plans
February 20, 2007


$2.3 million in business value over six years with a comprehensive Symantec security management, backup/recovery, and client management solution

Protecting Infrastructure, Information, and Interactions for the "Stars"

Screen Actors Guild–Producers Pension and Health Plans (SAGPH) processes more than 700,000 pension and health plans for more than 45,000 members each year. As a not-for-profit organization, SAGPH seeks to return as much as possible to its members by operating at peak efficiency. And SAGPH’s IT organization is at the heart of its operations, protecting interactions, infrastructure, and information. And this is a business-critical enterprise for SAGPH, which protects confidential records and transactions for high profile actors and producers.
With the arrival of Executive Vice President and CIO Nader Karimi in 2002, SAPPH embarked a modernization initiative focused on improving customer service, automating healthcare and pension claim processing, providing real-time benefit information, lowering IT operating costs, and reducing IT administration overhead.
"The information that we have for each of our participants is extremely confidential. Under no circumstance can we have any information disclosed—name, social security, birthday, or any protected health information." — Nader Karimi, Executive Vice President and CIO, SAGPH

Challenges and Barriers Come in 3s

As Karimi and his team moved forward in addressing these issues, they faced three major challenges. First, they were under strict budget constraints and needed to reduce operating costs while improving front office operating efficiencies. Second, Web-based services needed to be redesigned to support the expansion of healthcare and pension management services. This included automating claim processing services and providing 24x7 online support to members. Third, the privacy and security of member information needed to be maintained at all times, not only to meet HIPPA compliance but to protect the integrity and credibility of SAGPH.
SAGPH faced three major technology barriers in modernizing its main data center. First, the existing backup and recovery environment was server centric and lacked the ability to support backups across a heterogeneous server environment. Second, the server and storage infrastructure needed to scale to support information growth resulting from online claim processing applications. Third, the IT infrastructure—spanning from the data center to desktops and laptops—required a multi-layered security solution that would provide comprehensive threat management.
"All it takes is one breach, and we’ve lost the reputation of the organization, the IT department, and the CIO." — Nader Karimi, Executive Vice President and CIO, SAGPH

It's Not Just Acting but Real-life Comprehensive Threat Management and Data Protection

Starting in 2002, SAGPH has leveraged Symantec technologies and services as a key component of its modernization initiative. SAGPH began by centralizing its data protection infrastructure, migrating from CA ARCserve to Veritas NetBackup. This was done in parallel with a server and storage standardization initiative on HP ProLiant servers and HP StorageWorks arrays. Also in 2002, in order to address a growing number of servers and gateways, SAGPH engaged Symantec Managed Security Services and deployed Symantec Manhunt network security and Symantec AntiVirus Enterprise Edition software.

In September 2003, in order to reduce the implementation time of security patches and updates, SAGPH deployed Symantec LiveState Client Management Suite across its various operating environments. And to help ensure a secure instant messaging environment, SAGPH deployed Symantec IM Manager in August 2004.

Karimi and his team returned their focus to data protection in December 2005, when they began using Symantec Backup Exec System Recovery for rebuilding data center servers, desktops, and laptops. At the same time, SAGPH also added Symantec DeepSight Alert Services for proactive identification of threats. And in Septmeber 2006, SAGPH integrated two Symantec Network Security 7160 appliances for integrated IDS/IPS reporting and detection.
"Symantec enables us to put a virtual wall around our office, making sure that malicious code or viruses don’t invade our network. I look to Symantec to help us continue making that wall thicker and better, helping to ensure that all the cracks are patched up. In sum, our relationship with Symantec creates a dome around the company that helps me sleep better at night by knowing that my environment is safe." — Nader Karimi, Executive Vice President and CIO, SAGPH

Business Value Plays Key Role for SAGPH

As a result of the series of Symantec-based technology and services solutions, SAGPH is achieving tangible business value. The Alchemy Solutions Group, a global management consulting company, recently conducted an in-depth analysis of the Symantec solutions, concluding that SAGPH achieved $1 million in cost savings, cost avoidance, and improved productivity from 2003 to 2005. And the business value is projected to continue on a growth path according to The Alchemy Solutions Group, which pinpoints another $1.3 million in cost savings, cost avoidance, and productivity improvements through 2006.

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