Go to IT-LifeLine Inc.s office in the Steam Plant Square downtown, and youll see a three-person operation in small quarters that are typical of a high-tech startup.
Look at the data-backup and data-recovery companys client list, however, and youll see a number of big players in the Spokane business community that would be more characteristic of the customer list of a longtime concern.
Steven Tabacek, IT-LifeLines president and CEO, says that since he launched the company last June, Weve really seen some very steady growth. We want to offer services to as many of the blue-chip companies in Spokane as we can.
IT-LifeLine is off to a strong start. Its first clients were Washington Trust Bank and Rockwood Clinic PS. Since then, Tabacek says, the company has added AmericanWest Bank, rugged computer maker Itronix Corp., and industrial products manufacturer Pyrotek Inc., among others.
Clients outsource to IT-LifeLine all of their data-backup needs and enlist the company to recover lost data in the event of a virus, a hardware failure, or some other glitch in which data is lost, Tabacek says. Customers transmit their data to IT-LifeLine via high-speed Internet connections so it can be preserved and, if necessary, recovered.
The company also provides emergency response and testing and auditing of contingency plans for situations in which a customers computer network might go down due to a natural or man-made disaster and the customer would need to retrieve data at a remote location.
With its current clients, IT-LifeLine has contracts that will bring it $250,000 in revenues this year. Tabacek says, however, that the company is adding an average of one major client a month and expects that the growth in its client base will be so rapid its revenues will total $500,000 in 2004.
The company has been profitable since shortly after starting, Tabacek says.
Our customers demand that we maintain profitability because theyre entrusting us with the jewels of their companies, he says.
IT-LifeLine is looking for larger quarters for both its offices and its data center, which is located a short distance from its offices, and hopes to move both its offices and its data center by mid-year, Tabacek says. Also, the company is considering adding a few additional employees.
Slice of expertise
Jim Brockett, senior vice president and chief information officer at Washington Trust Bank, says the bank enlisted IT-LifeLines services last year rather than buying a new backup system for its servers. He says Washington Trust, which has 120 network servers and stores more than two terabytes of dataor more than 2,000 gigabytesestimates that it will realize a net savings of about $500,000 over the next five years by outsourcing its backup operations rather than upgrading.
Backup systems are becoming more complex, Brockett says, and companies often need to hire backup-system experts to manage such technology. With such services outsourced, he says, the bank doesnt have to hire those specialists.
He says IT-LifeLines clients in essence share that expertise, but thats OK, because you dont need them every day.
With that observation, Brockett hints at what Tabacek asserts is the key benefit to IT-LifeLines customers: Those customers get backup technology similar to what large national corporations install for their own use, but at a substantially lower cost because several customers are sharing the technology, and its hefty cost is spread across IT-LifeLines billings to all of them.
Its like pizza by the slice, Tabacek says. Theyre getting Fortune 100 technology, but theyre paying only for the piece theyre using.
In its data center, IT-LifeLine currently is backing up 178 servers and managing 47 million files that contain 11 terabytes of data. The company has the capability to store up to 100 times more data than it currently handles, Tabacek says.
With IT-LifeLines backup system, a customer sends encrypted data via high-speed communications line to IT-LifeLines computer system on an hourly to daily basis, Tabacek says.
Two copies of the data then are produced. One is kept at IT-LifeLines data center, and the other is stored on backup tapes and taken in an armored car-like vehicle to an off-site vault.
In addition to offering backup and recovery services and disaster-recovery planning and testing, Tabacek says IT-LifeLine allows customers to put standby server equipment at its data center and will activate that equipment quickly if the customers primary system fails.
IT-LifeLine currently targets large employers in the Spokane area, but Tabacek says the company has identified demand for such services from smaller companies and plans to roll out a small-business package in the coming months.
Also, the company plans to open an office in the Seattle market during the second quarter of 2005.
Spokane is a great starter market, but we expect aggressive corporate growth into Seattle, Tabacek says.
He says some of the companys Spokane-based customers have Seattle-area offices and have asked IT-LifeLine to add a data center on the West Side, though the company primarily will use such a center to attract companies there.
IT-LifeLine plans to market to Seattle-area companies the ability to store their data in the Spokane area. The benefit of that, Tabacek says, is that the data would be far enough away that it would be secure in case of a widespread disaster in the Puget Sound region, but close enough that a company could pick up the data relatively easily and re-establish itself under extreme circumstances.
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