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ITSS Case Studies

In ITSS, we’ve helped companies large and small find the right-sized solution for the right cost.

And we know why our clients choose us. When it comes to our competition, we’re more flexible, cost-effective, innovative, and available. Here are some recent solutions that make us really proud.

Work Area Recovery

A managed care organization servicing more than 263,000 members, was located in one of the city’s tallest structures. Centralized operation came with both benefits and risks - and the company knew it needed to establish a recovery data center that was easily accessible to its workforce in case of emergencies.

The Challenge

When you’re a managed care organization (MCO), you understand better than most that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This company, which provided health care access to more than 263,000 members, was located in one of the city’s tallest structures. Although operating in such a consolidated fashion presented efficiencies, it also presented significant business risks.

The company knew it needed to establish a recovery data center – one that was easily accessible to its workforce in case of emergencies.

They got the healthy dose of help they needed from the Information Technology Systems and Services (ITSS) division at MSA.

The Solution

We partnered with this MCO on two solutions – a robust hosting relationship for an active mirror data center and a workforce recovery solution for call center agents who are unable to work from home or other alternative locations.

The Data Center

  • Data storage
  • Over 75 virtualized systems
  • Telecommunication services including voicemail call accounting and call recording
  • Internet
  • Private network connectivity

The client also conducts at least four emergency exercises each year. These tests are performed remotely with no impact to its operations. In fact, its personnel can remotely manage its systems at the RockPointe facility to the power outlet.

Workforce recovery solution

The client maintains a workforce recovery solution based at our Penn Avenue facility. The arrangement services up to 150 call center agents. These seats are used during a business disruption as an alternative for staff who are unable to work remotely. The client maintains connectivity for over half of the company.

  • Generic desktop setup within 24 hours
  • Generic VOIP phone service that is leveraged by the client to access its voice platforms. Calls are redirected to this service, eliminating the need to change access numbers and methods.

The Results

When our client experienced a failure that took its primary telecommunications vendor almost two weeks to resolve, the MCO never missed a beat. It was able to seamlessly failover telecommunication service through our RockPointe facility and mitigate what would have been a disaster. Being able to leverage this failover also afforded the vendor more time to diagnose and remediate the failure.

Also, during the 2009 G20 Summit in Pittsburgh, when our client’s operations were limited within its building, it successfully leveraged several of our Business Continuity plans. Over half of the company worked remotely at MSA, and the client was able to both meet and, in some areas, exceed its service level agreements. Instead of being a disaster, the week of G20 turned into an unqualified success.

Data Center Support Services

A wholesale insurance broker was experiencing exponential growth to over $100mm a year in bookings and needed to focus on core competencies to continue to fuel this growth. How do they reduce the risk of IT systems critical for operations without losing the focus on what has made them successful?

The Challenge

If you’re a wholesale insurance broker, not having excellent IT can be risky business. Today, technology fortifies a company’s position in the insurance industry. Integrated software solutions and the need to work in a virtual environment are keys to success.

Since 2001, our client had grown to become a wholesale insurance broker booking over $100 million per year with over 260 brokerage facilities throughout the U.S. They had experienced exponential growth since their start, and their IT system wasn’t keeping up.

Efficiency waned. Bottlenecks occurred. It was clear that the company was in dire need of an IT overhaul.

Just about the same time, the company was moving offices. A new facility was being constructed and the company faced a major question: Keep their internal IT department or move to outsourcing?

They considered the outlay for facilities, equipment, and staff. They thought about the ongoing support costs associated with each — keeping the hardware current, allowing for hardware attrition, planning for growth, the dependence of a large IT staff, and managing their own network and systems.

The choice was obvious. The company was an insurance broker, not a data center. They elected to contract their IT services with MSA and retain a minimal internal IT staff.

The Solution

Our ITSS division implemented a converged voice and data network, built in fail-over systems, and created the ability for a virtualized environment that facilitates growth and mobility.

In just two years’ time, we liberated the company’s network and systems infrastructure, enabling them to offer all of their integrated software solutions to their 12 offices throughout the United States.

This virtual office capability means that our client is not tethered to a single location. An office can pick up and move and run its business from anywhere – making the company far more flexible and independent.

In addition, the company now relies on MSA’s regimented and certified staff, keeping only a minimal, affordable IT staff of their own.

The Results

Today, our client experiences unparalleled efficiency. Gone are the inadequate network and hampered systems infrastructure. Operations are far more efficient and far less redundant.

Integrated software systems solutions are now readily available to all of their offices, enabling growth.

Our client now experiences greater control, complete and seamless implementation, and greater security. They also no longer have the high costs and headaches of maintaining a full IT staff.

This wholesale insurance broker enjoys greater functionality with systems that can grow and meet their needs.  They are far more effective and cost efficient, and they would tell you themselves it couldn’t have been accomplished without MSA’s expertise and guidance.


What does a rapidly growing Pittsburgh-based company that is making headlines with its ground-breaking hybrid cloud storage solutions do when it needs data center space to house its expanding test and development environment? They choose MSA as their colocation services provider.

The Challenge

Their requirements were straightforward. They required contiguous floor space for multiple racks of equipment, with the ability to re-size hosted space to accommodate future growth. Adequate and reliable cooling was also a concern, due to the high heat density of Avere’s rack environment.  The availability of remote “Smart Hands” service, specialized UNIX systems administration support services and other add-in services were additional requirements in the selection process.  We had that covered, and more.

The Solution

Our approach, as it is with every client engagement, was first to listen to Avere Systems’ concerns and understand the company’s unique requirements, and then to develop a customized solution that aligned with their current needs and future goals. As a result of these discussions, we designed a flexible colocation solution, which includes raised data center floor space for multiple racks of equipment at our Evergreen Heights Technology Center in Ross Township near Pittsburgh, PA.

The 65,000 square-foot facility (with 15,000 square feet of raised floor space) features redundant spare capacity for power and cooling systems, including a reliable utility power feed with generator backup, a dedicated fiber network, and state-of-the-art fire suppression and access control systems.

In addition, the solution we developed for Avere Systems features:

  • A flexible configuration, supplying abundant power to individual racks to support a per-rack power draw of 5 to 7 kW per rack.
  • Two ISPs that provide redundant internet connectivity.
  • Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) technology for internet failover, should service from one provider be interrupted

Although Avere Systems manages its own application/server environment, a variety of specialized systems administration and IT support services are available to augment in-house staff, if and when needed. And in anticipation of the client’s future growth, additional, contiguous floor space has been earmarked for their use. We’ll be ready when they are.

The Results

The move to our Evergreen Heights Technology Center provides Avere Systems with a stable operating environment for its test and development systems, which is critical infrastructure needed for launching new products and keeping the company at the forefront of a dynamically evolving storage industry.

Our colocation services offer value beyond commoditized raised floor space:

  • MSA’s investment in redundant electrical systems and network connectivity provides Avere Systems’ development team with 24/7 availability.
  • A flexible configuration and reliable power supply enables us to keep pace with Avere Systems’ power requirements.
  • Proactive capacity planning means we’re prepared to grow with their business as they grow.

The bottom line: As Avere Systems continues to push the boundaries of storage performance and economics with their hybrid cloud storage solutions, we’re prepared to help them grow and expand their business.