Case Study: Niemann Capital Management Invests in a Winning Recovery Strategy with InMage
Niemann Capital Management (NCM) is an innovative investment management firm distinguished by its tactical asset allocation and rotation methodology. With preservation of capital as the cornerstone of its philosophy, NCM offers a range of conservative, moderate and aggressive managed account strategies that utilize mutual funds and exchange traded funds. Since 1991, the firm has utilized a proprietary methodology and disciplined process to analyze daily current world market conditions seeking the greatest potential return with the least possible risk for investors.
The Challenge: Enable Quick Recovery of Business Operations During Downtime Events
Niemann Capital Management is headquartered in Scotts Valley, California and utilizes a Silicon Valley area Equinix facility as its primary data center. A secondary site is located in Carson City, Nevada for recovery. The company’s IT infrastructure is largely Windows-based and virtualized, with at least 150 virtual servers. NCM was doing backups directly from production machines to disk, and also supplemented with tape backups that were stored offsite to meet the retention requirements of current compliance legislation. Numerous feeds come in daily from financial institutions to NCM’s mission-critical SQL servers, providing the information necessary for advisors to make investment management decisions. It was important for the company to be able to recover quickly from a downtime event, as well as have a backup process in place that did not impact the production environment.
“When you’re managing other people’s money, you’re highly accountable for everything that goes on, and the liability can be pretty extreme,” said John Etheridge, IT Director, Niemann Capital Management. “In our business, if the servers went offline or we had downtime at the wrong time in the day, that hinders our ability to trade, distribute funds, liquidate and so forth, so it’s critical for us to be able to recover our data and maintain operations. In the past, if I were to lose a site, the best I could hope for was to get back online in two days. It would then take another 12 days to get everything running at full capacity, and that just wasn’t acceptable. My goal was to find a solution with the recovery capabilities we needed, within the parameters we had to work with.”
The Solution: Application-Consistent Recovery with InMage
As he began the search for the right recovery solution, Etheridge analyzed such factors as the number of IT personnel, financial commitment and time commitment that each product would ultimately require. He initially considered the strategy of fault tolerant sites, but in the end decided the return-on-investment was not compelling enough.
“I call it the 100-mile limit,” said Etheridge. “Even if we have a fault tolerant scenario with two sites running real-time data, any time you get past that 100-mile limit, you have a significant problem to deal with because of the distance the data has to travel. Fault tolerant sites are very expensive and require a lot of maintenance, work and personnel. The ROI just wasn’t there so we decided to look for other solutions that focused on bringing our primary site back online.”
“There wasn’t a single solution out there that we didn’t evaluate,” continued Etheridge. “We looked at the very mature products, yet they still had limitations and the cost factor was enormous. Other products were fully automated, but still required a tremendous amount of maintenance to make sure they worked properly, and that wasn’t a task we wanted to take on. Customer support was often lacking as well. When Hitachi Data Systems introduced us to InMage, we found what we were looking for.”