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Automate the deployment and commissioning of complete environments as part of the redesign of management software.
“We are currently undergoing a period of transformation in which we need to offer increasingly complex insurance products. To this end, we have begun a project to redesign our management tools using the Cleva ERP system, a management software solution for the insurance sector.”
“But the question of speed still needed to be resolved: to remain competitive, we had to find a way to deploy the ERP quickly, so that the business could use it as soon as possible to meet the new demands of the market,” explains Eric Swiniarski, head of IT Architecture & Security services, Filhet-Allard.
Swiniarski had to procure a solution which could quickly install and configure application components as well as automatically supply virtual machines.
The challenge facing Filhet-Allard had been to shorten IT deployment lead times to remain ahead in the insurance market, which is currently facing real challenges. Filhet-Allard is a group which simultaneously provides insurance brokerage and daily contract management for its clients through the three entities Filhet-Allard Maritime (B2B), Filhet-Allard & Cie S.A. (B2B2C) and AMV (B2C).
Swiniarski evaluated the solutions on the market but very quickly decided to go to Micro Focus, which had already allowed him to carry out a technology review of its CSA and OO solutions. Respectively, these are used to build Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) or Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) offerings. This is done from a single portal within which users can automatically manage application components in the deployment process.
“With these solutions and the expertise of the [Micro Focus] team, we have automatically integrated and configured 12 to 15 technical services. These include Oracle databases, Citrix NetScaler, and open source Puppet software to manage the deployment of middleware. Also, we’ve incorporated Universal CMDB*, vCenter for virtualization as well as supervision and backup tools,” says Swiniarski.
The system has been deployed in three phases. The first phase, which took around three months, was used to design the solution; the team had been particularly keen to recover the existing rules from Puppet to preserve and capitalize on the existing infrastructure. During the second phase, which ran for two months, a proof of concept was put in place.
“I am grateful here for the support in terms of software and services: at the end of this phase, the new cloud framework worked so well that we retained it when the system went live, with one or two minor adjustments,” acknowledges Swiniarski.
The third phase is deployment: “This is still ongoing, because we are deploying eight environments in succession, each comprising around twenty virtual servers with all the associated software components and configuration.”
Eric Swiniarski – HEAD OF IT ARCHITECTURE & SECURITY SERVICES
Whilst days if not weeks would have been previously needed to deploy a complete ERP Cleva environment, Swiniarski’s team currently manage to do so in an hour and thirty minutes. One of the remarkable benefits of the cloud project is the reusability of the building blocks.
“We currently have twenty building blocks available from CSA* and its range of components. These are associated with 200 execution flows configured in Operations Orchestration*, to easily commission the environments that Filhet-Allard’s managers will need to use. In the past, production staff carried out a large number of very technical operations from different management consoles, which was slow and generated errors. They now operate a reduced number of tasks from a single portal,” says Swiniarski.
Even better, the automation platform implemented here will also be used to deploy environments other than those linked to the ERP system.
“The Filhet-Allard and [Micro Focus] project teams have produced very high quality deliverables, allowing us to strengthen our assets and to make use of them for new implementations. Here, I’m particularly thinking about Alfresco Enterprise Content Management, Talent ETL data transformation or the SOA webMethods platform that are required for our core business activities.”
In short, Swiniarski believes that, thus far, the project is certainly the most successful since Filhet-Allard first initiated steps towards creating an internal cloud in 2011. His management, with the help of Micro Focus, has ensured that the project has been delivered on time and within budget as outlined at the start of the project.