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Empyrean Benefit Solutions Stays Ahead of the Competition with Data-Centric Encryption from Thales eSecurity

Houston, Texas-based Empyrean is an advanced human resources technology and service company focused on administration of employee benefits for corporations of all sizes. It currently oversees the benefits packages of more than 90 organizations, managing over one million individuals.

Rick Miller, vice president of information technology for Empyrean Benefit Solutions, Inc., explained, “We provide services and software to administer benefits programs, including self-service websites for administrators and staff. We deliver a fully custom .NET structure, via our Web portal, that streamlines the required infrastructure and improves efficiencies through use of a common database.”

Business Challenge

“To accomplish economies of scale for our clients, each database is logically partitioned but they all reside on the same pool of hardware,” commented Miller. “A recent prospective customer shared that they had experienced a data breach prior to talking to us and this resulted in them mandating that all of their sensitive information be encrypted, irrespective of location.

“Originally we would only encrypt back-up copies of our databases before they were shipped to our offsite storage facility; we didn’t have the data encrypted within our data center, which we knew would be a problem for this new client.”

Technical Challenge

Empyrean handles massive amounts of sensitive employee data every day and while its customers need robust levels of security, there are some complicated considerations. “Our clients understandably want to know about our security procedures, such as how their data is destroyed if they should retire from using our services. But because the storage process didn’t differentiate between individual clients, it wasn’t feasible for us to go to the back-up media and erase a specific part of it,” noted Miller.


The company wanted to have a security solution that would set it apart from the competition and that would be sufficiently flexible to scale with client growth and accommodate individual customer needs.

Miller recalled his search for the right solution, “Our original desktop encryption product turned out not to be recommended for SQL servers and it lacked the necessary key management capabilities. We also looked at a native SQL server encryption product, but this compromised our flexibility and actually required platform changes that we just didn’t have time for.

“We knew we needed an enterprise-class solution, so started researching alternative options; the Thales eSecurity solutions really stood out. The ability to execute data at rest encryption, very straightforward key management and negligible impact on performance really differentiated it from the competition. We undertook a month long proof of concept and, very importantly, demonstrated that Vormetric Transparent Data Encryption gave us the ability to place private keys on specific information and be able to pin-point that data within the back-ups, which was critical for meeting our clients’ data destruction requirements.”

The deployment of Vormetric Transparent Data Encryption proved to be seamless and had minimal impact on Empyrean’s clients. “We installed it across our whole environment, giving us the ability to fully leverage the sophisticated key management capabilities and to perform targeted data destruction, if needed,” recounted Miller. “The Thales eSecurity consultants’ performance was excellent and they were always able to give us answers whenever we had any questions.”


Integrating the capabilities of Vormetric Transparent Data Encryption into its offerings is giving Empyrean tangible competitive advantage. Miller stated, “Across the board we’re seeing demand for far more rigorous search and procurement processes; having Vormetric Transparent Data Encryption enables Empyrean to demonstrate its commitment to protecting the integrity of all of our clients’ data and that we really understand their requirements.”

Miller likes the partnership that Empyrean has formed with Thales eSecurity. He noted, “The experience I’ve had has exceeded expectations; I work with a lot of technology companies and implementing the Thales eSecurity solution has been remarkably smooth. It has quickly proved to be a very stable solution in our environment. I’m extremely happy.”

There are many powerful aspects of the Thales eSecurity architecture: “The scalability of the solution means that there are no restrictions on how far or how fast Empyrean can grow. The data-centric strategy gives us the control and granularity our clients are demanding. And Thales eSecurity’s capabilities to handle data located in physical, virtual or cloud environments provide us with great flexibility. We’re confident that we can accommodate the data security requirements of even our most creative customers!” asserted Miller.