About Clarity Services
Clarity Services, Inc. is a national credit reporting agency. Unlike the traditional “Big Three,” Clarity focuses on real-time, nontraditional data reporting for under-banked, near prime and subprime consumer segments. These consumers can have minimal recorded data. Assessing their creditworthiness can be a challenge for lending institutions and businesses, which adds risk to the underwriting process. By providing up-to-the minute, sub-prime consumer information that is not available from traditional reporting agencies, Clarity assists lenders in gaining a competitive advantage, while reducing risk and fraud.
Prior to 2014, the company had a managed hosting contract for its production servers at another company, its operational servers at Peak 10, and the rest of its IT operations on-site at its corporate offices. With that managed hosting contract about to expire in spring 2014, Clarity was ready for a change.
The company wanted more control over its production environment, faster response times, greater visibility from its host, and more choice and flexibility in infrastructure provisioning. The data it collects and handles is extremely sensitive. And, being subject to the regulations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and its customers requiring additional industry standard certifications such as Payment Card Industry (PCI) and Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements no. 16 (SSAE-16), Clarity had to exercise thorough due diligence in assessing alternative managed hosting providers.
Another requirement was uptime reliability. “Because we are a real-time credit bureau – meaning reporting and changes to credit files happen instantly – downtime is a serious issue for our customers,” said Jeff Scarsbrook, director of IT at Clarity Services. “They get antsy very quickly when they can’t pull down up-todate Clarity credit reports at any given time. That’s a business interruption for them. Our systems must be available and moving traffic at the drop of a dime.”
Peak 10’s Solution
Clarity’s search for a new managed hosting provider for its production environment kept leading them back to Peak 10. Having had the operations component of its infrastructure colocated with Peak 10, it had experience with the company and its people. Peak 10’s security and compliance credentials were impeccable, and they were open and forthcoming about their policies and procedures. The geographic diversity of its data centers would effectively serve Clarity’s production and DR/BC requirements.
“We spent a great deal of time sitting down and talking with each other, discussing how we make this work and what it’s going to look like,” said Jeff. “They wanted to understand our business and what exactly we were trying to accomplish. They didn’t try to force-fit us into a box or tell us what to do. It was clear the Peak 10 really wanted to partner with us.”
The infrastructure that emerged from the collaboration placed the live production systems at one Peak 10 location and a hot-standby site for disaster recovery/business continuity at another, geographically diverse location of Peak 10. At each location, Peak 10 provides network device management, advanced monitoring and data protection. These managed services proactively help identify issues to minimize service interruption, and employ industry best practices to help Clarity optimize its IT performance. They also help protect against issues that can compromise the security and integrity of Clarity’s data and IT assets.
Clarity’s operational day-to-day systems and infrastructure remains with Peak 10 at its current location.
The lack of control over day-to-day management functions that Clarity’s previous managed service provider afforded was a business detriment. Changes had to go through them, which sometimes could take up to three days.
“We could handle a lot of that in-house, which we do with Peak 10. If we need to tap Peak 10’s expertise to get something done, they’re right there for us, like an extension of our IT team,” Jeff said. “It’s much more efficient. Furthermore, the concerns we had over availability were quickly alleviated in the move to Peak 10.”
Immediately after moving the production environment to Peak 10, Clarity experienced a 25 percent performance boost. After doing system optimization – some of it code and some of it infrastructure tuning – performance scaled by 200 percent. Collaboration and solution tailoring as a result of partnering really proved its value, Jeff recalled.
The same holds true regarding regulatory compliance. “Our customers, the larger ones in particular, want to see those certifications to verify their data is safe,” he said. “We take full advantage of the fact the both we and Peak 10 have certifications. Peak 10 has been extraordinarily helpful all the way, including responding to our customers’ questions and concerns. We didn’t get the level of support or transparency from our previous provider.”
Clarity Services has seen an increase in both efficiencies and value since making the move. “We get more bang for our buck and the people are great. I’d recommend Peak 10 to anyone.”