Verteks Consulting helps protect the McDonald Agencies from a wide range of risks through data replication, backup, security and comprehensive managed services.
Kevin McDonald knows a thing or two about reducing risk. As an Allstate agent, McDonald has been helping consumers and businesses select the right insurance policies for more than 22 years, following in the footsteps of his father, who enjoyed a 30-year career in the insurance business. But when it came to insure his own business against computer downtime and data loss, McDonald turned to the experts at Verteks Consulting.
The Kevin McDonald Agencies have grown over the years to include four locations in the Ocala area. At the same time, McDonald’s IT systems have transitioned from Allstate-owned and managed computers to company-owned computers. Like many small businesses, the agency faced challenges related to data backup, security and customer data sharing across multiple locations.
Verteks has reduced these risks by replicating data across all locations and implementing centralized backup and security solutions. In addition, Verteks has taken over the ongoing maintenance and support of McDonald’s computer systems to minimize downtime and ensure rapid problem resolution.
“Verteks came in and did an assessment and made some recommendations, and we made the decision to move all of our IT services over to them,” said McDonald. “These guys have done a great job of ensuring that our systems are integrated, backed up and protected.”
Strength in Numbers
McDonald’s primary location in Cala Hills was joined by the Summerfield location in 2001, the Jasmine Square location in 2007 and the Villages location in 2008. These locations share a phone system that integrates with a proprietary agency management system. The missing piece was similar integration among all of the computer systems scattered across the Kevin McDonald Agencies.
“It was really important that the desktops and laptops were able to share data and integrate with the phone system so that we can make the most of our combined efforts and run all our offices as one,” McDonald said. “Our communication internally is that we have one office with four front doors. We want the customer experience and the employee experience to be the same across every location, and Verteks has helped us achieve that.”
By enabling data sharing among the locations Verteks was also able to improve data protection. Each office is backed up to a central server in the main office, and then that backup data is replicated to McDonald’s home office.
“We consider my home office a fifth location that we use for redundant backup. If there is a catastrophe it’s unlikely that both locations would be impacted at the same time. We can recover the data and access client information through our Web-based agency management system,” McDonald said.
“That is hyper-critical because if we do suffer a significant natural catastrophe we have thousands of customers who are going to need our assistance in helping them deal with it. We are on call at that point. We have to have access to our data so we’re in a position to help customers file claims and follow through.”
There When Needed
Of course, natural disasters aren’t the only threat to computer systems. An ever-growing array of viruses, worms, spyware and other malware can easily bring a network to its knees. To protect against this threat, the Verteks team installed the Trend Micro Security Solution, WatchGuard Firewalls, and the Verteks Service Automation system, providing continuously updated virus and spyware protection on all systems across the network.
“With all of the threats out there, it’s pretty much impossible for a company such as ours to manage security effectively. I would much rather trust Verteks to keep everything up to date. Those guys do a great job,” McDonald said.
Verteks also helps to minimize unplanned downtime for the McDonald Agencies. By installing the Verteks Service Automation agent on all computers at the four sites, Verteks is able to continuously monitor system performance and quickly remote in and resolve issues without the end-user having to wait for onsite support. The Verteks Service Automation System includes 24×7 monitoring, enabling highly trained technicians to fix many issues before they cause problems. What’s more, the all-inclusive, all-you-can-use, flat-rate managed services plan allows for predictable budgeting.
“We were familiar with the value of managed services because that’s the way Allstate used to manage our systems,” said McDonald. “It’s very efficient and economical for us to give them access to our systems so that they don’t have to dispatch anybody — or, if they do need to come out, they can at least make an assessment beforehand.
“Knowing that Verteks is always there to help us enables us to focus on the business. Their responsiveness has always been great.”
Business is inherently risky, so it’s important to take steps to minimize threats to operations. The Kevin McDonald Agencies help businesses and consumers reduce risk through insurance products and services, and Verteks Consulting helps ensure that McDonald’s computer systems and data are always available to support his business.