“A conservative estimate puts our performance improvement across the board at over 25%.”
Micro Focus solutions help realize substantial cost savings.
Investors Heritage Life Insurance Company (IHLIC) operates in a variety of insurance markets in the USA, providing life insurance and annuities. Its primary areas are pre-need and final expense insurance through funeral homes, and credit related insurance through financial institutions.
IHLIC had run an IBM mainframe with a Computer Associates database (Datacom) for 20+ years, but was finding it increasingly difficult to maintain. Costs for hardware, software, and services were spiraling up and it was hard to find applications to run in the database environment. Raymond Carr, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, explains: “We talked about moving to a PC platform which would make much more sense to our business model. However, we had 3,000 COBOL-based programs on the mainframe and could never justify rewriting all of these applications. We looked at package applications, but this wasn’t cost-effective either. There is so much intelligence built into our programs, we simply couldn’t replace them.”
As the IHLIC applications are highly calculation-driven, a Proof of Concept helped determine the viability of the Micro Focus solution. Carr: “We took our largest application to calculate statutory reserves, and ran a test scenario with two environments, our current mainframe and a Windows PC environment. When the right answer was returned in both environments, we knew we were onto a winning strategy.”
The business-critical applications are used by approximately 100 internal users, as well as up to 2,500 external agents. 2,000 programs manage online, real-time, transactions, using CICS, with another 1,000 involved in batch processing at the end of each day, using JES JCL, to reconcile records and process the billing cycle. The entire scope of the project involved over 600,000 lines of code. The new environment consists of Microsoft Windows Enterprise Server 2008 R2 with Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 providing the database engine. The application and database servers run on VMware vSphere virtual machines. Lewis Rogers, Vice President, Information Services, comments: “The actual program conversion required very little effort. The migration was mainly done in-house with our own resources, but we had assistance from Micro Focus when we needed it.”
On completion of the program and data migration, IHLIC decided to run a parallel environment for 45 days to ensure the new environment was reliable and stable. This took IHLIC through two month ends with the associated accounting controls, without any major problems.
With the new system proven, IHLIC could switch off its mainframe and move to the Windows platform. Carr is pleased with the result: “We realized a full ROI on the project within 18 months and enjoy ongoing cost savings thanks to lower hardware, software, support, and maintenance costs.”
Since having the new environment, IHLIC has gone through a year-end, complete with statutory audits and account controls. The system has been stable and reliable and performance has improved. Rogers comments: “A conservative estimate puts our performance improvement across the board at over 25%. Nearly all of our batch jobs run faster, just a couple of calculation-intensive jobs run at the same level.”
The new environment brings flexibility. According to Rogers: “We now have the option to leverage other development environments, such as .NET and Java. Our core skills are in COBOL, but we notice that new developers joining the company are far more familiar with a Windows environment. It means the learning curve is not as steep as before and we are seeing the benefits from an administrative perspective as well.”
In the mainframe environment, it could take IHLIC up to 48 hours to fully recover from a system outage. Its new hardware platform allows for easier and more cost-effective hardware replication to provide efficient fail-over capability. This has enabled IHLIC to reduce its disaster recovery time to less than an hour.
Carr concludes: “With Micro Focus, we have been able to effectively reuse our valuable programs with tens of thousands of intelligence hours built into them, improve the quality of our customer and agent applications, equip our development team with more flexible tools, and above all, reduce costs drastically by moving to a more cost-effective hardware platform. We are very pleased with the results of this project.”
Micro Focus, a member of the FTSE 250, provides innovative software that allows companies to dramatically improve the business value of their enterprise applications. Micro Focus Enterprise Application Modernization, Testing and Management software enables customers’ business applications to respond rapidly to market changes and embrace modern architectures with reduced cost and risk.