Over the last 30 years, FIATC has developed its core business applications, including back office, ERP and CRM solutions, as well as all insurance product-related applications, using a variety of programming languages, such as COBOL, RPG, Easytrieve and VisualAge. The solutions were then deployed in an IBM mainframe environment.
Jordi de Martín, CIO of FIATC, explains the challenge that this posed: “The combination of programming languages and databases required us to maintain a highly complex and expensive infrastructure. With different databases we had no easy way to analyze data, or utilize it with Business Intelligence (BI) or advanced analytics tools. It was also difficult to find the necessary development skills. Millennials are not mainframe-trained, nor do they have the motivation required to work in this environment. As our business grew, so did the demands on our IT function. The business wants modernized applications, especially with regard to mobility and online functionality. With the environment that we had, we were not able to respond with sufficient efficiency, cost-effectiveness and speed.”
FIATC did consider rewriting the key applications or replacing them with a packaged solution. However, with over 30 million lines of code (LOC) and a highly customized environment, these were simply not viable options. The company wanted to minimize risk, significantly reduce costs and simplify the IT infrastructure.
It was clear to FIATC that the quickest and most secure way to achieve this would be to build on what it already had. FIATC was introduced to Micro Focus Enterprise solutions, which aim to do just that – bridge the gap between existing and emerging technologies. Micro Focus partnered with HPE Pointnext and, during a rapid assessment with FIATC, it proposed the implementation model for the project, as well as its duration, resources and risk factors.
Over the next 16 months, the mainframe was completely migrated to an Intel-based Windows distributed environment. De Martín comments: “One of our priorities was to simplify the infrastructure and its management. There are many things we would like to modernize, but to minimize risk in this project, we decided on a completely transparent ‘as-is’ migration for our 20,000-plus users. Micro Focus Enterprise Developer® delivered a unified modern IDE based on Eclipse, and Enterprise Server® gave us a flexible and highly scalable deployment environment.”
FIATC also took advantage of the opportunity to change its IBM Personal Communications host terminal emulator, instead adopting Micro Focus Reflection®, a Windows-based host access management solution.
In partnership with HPE Pointnext, Micro Focus delivered training on specific areas of the new infrastructure, such as security. After extensive testing and parallel running of both environments, all deadlines were met and on the final go-live date the mainframe was decommissioned. The new distributed environment is fully redundant, with all resources on a single platform.
The physical footprint has drastically reduced. No longer reliant on air conditioning or power capacity, the distributed environment can reside anywhere, even in the cloud. With the databases unified into a single SQL Server repository, FIATC can now easily access all data and integrate with BI tools in order to deliver sophisticated analysis and data-driven decision making.
De Martín summarizes the results thus: “Our main objective was to reduce our operating expenses, as we needed to invest in modernization projects and the development of our corporate system. Micro Focus Enterprise solutions delivered a 70% reduction in OPEX and an ROI timeframe of less than two years. Even more importantly, it has given us a simplified and unified development environment, with just two languages: COBOL and Java. Our previously siloed development teams now share resources in a user-friendly Eclipse environment. This has resulted in improved collaboration and development productivity. We have also noticed some spectacular performance improvements. In addition, our batch processing time has been reduced by over 30%.”
He concludes: “Micro Focus and HPE Pointnext have enabled an agile and DevOps-oriented approach for our application lifecycle management. We now use a single development environment for new and existing applications, resulting in faster and simpler delivery of new features to our corporate system; a true digital transformation. We are delighted with the results and look forward to continuing our partnership.”