Flexibility in their marketing and product development is a top priority for insurance companies. All the more so for those that do business exclusively via brokers, who require clear offerings and high quality services. To meet these demands, insurers need access to robust and reliable information systems. With Bull’s help, Rotterdam-based Erasmus Leven – a division of Delta Lloyd – has set up a private Cloud that enables the company to respond effectively to both brokers’ and customers’ needs.
The history of Erasmus Leven dates back to 1736. The company offers flexible and reliable life insurance products for all stages in people’s lives. As Gerard De Rooij, CIO at Erasmus Leven, explains: “Several years ago we became a division of Delta Lloyd, and we operate exclusively via a network of independent brokers who provide tailored advice to our customers. For several decades now we have been using a Bull system to administer our insurance policies. We also use Unix and Windows servers to support some of our activities.”
Replacing the infrastructure
In 2010, Erasmus Leven embarked on a cost-reduction program, which also involved its suppliers. Gerard De Rooij sets out some of the details: “The program was launched at a time when we wanted to reevaluate our IT infrastructure. We really had to replace our hardware, because the maintenance contract was coming to an end. We also wanted to improve service continuity, for reasons of regulatory compliance, because as an insurer we have to follow certain rules. With this in mind, we organized a number of workshops. From this, it emerged that Bull was perfectly equipped to take responsibility for our new computing environment.”
Twin data center
Having researched possible options in some detail, Erasmus Leven opted for two new redundant data centers, hosted by Equinix, in Amsterdam and Zwolle. The Zwolle environment acts as a business continuity solution, and will eventually be transferred to Amsterdam where the production environment is based. Bull and Erasmus Leven successfully migrated the production environment over a single weekend. “We had already extended the network in preparation for this, and configured some of the hardware,” Gerard De Rooij recalls. “On the Friday evening, we shut down all the applications and restored the back-ups at the new data centers. This had already been tested twice. On the Saturday morning, the back-up restoration was finished and we made the final adjustments to the network. We also tested all the network connections in detail. At two o’clock on Sunday morning, we were able to restart production and we tested everything that had been waiting to be processed since Friday. At four thirty in the afternoon, we gave everything the green light and the migration was absolutely complete. The next day, all our staff was able to start work again with total peace of mind. If we hadn’t sent them a message on Monday morning to tell them about it, no-one would have known what had happened!”
The biggest benefits of the new environment, identified by Gerard De Rooij, include lower running costs, simpler system management and a very major improvement in service continuity. Operating costs have fallen by almost 20%. And the time needed to roll over to a back-up solution has been reduced from 96 hours to just eight. Finally, application performance has not changed, indeed in some cases it has improved, despite the much greater reliance on external connections, whereas the old data center was hosted in Erasmus Leven’s own building. The insurer manages the new environment itself, with Bull on hand to deal with more complex issues.
According to Gerard De Rooij, Bull along with Erasmus Leven and the other partners involved have delivered excellent performance. “Following some delays in achieving some aspects of the new data center, we had to be inventive in order to complete the project in the allotted timescales. But we did it perfectly. Bull put together temporary solutions for some situations, which allowed us to carry on working. Bull’s input was always focused on looking for solutions: what was still achievable given the actual situation? Bull proved itself to be an extremely reliable partner. We have been working together for some decades now and we know each other extremely well: we’re true partners.”
Gerard De Rooij believes that the most important advantage of the new data center project is the extremely high levels of availability of the environment; to the benefit of Erasmus Leven’s brokers. “They can request quotations and consult customer information at any time. What’s more, thanks to the new data center, they can also offer their customers a first class service.”
The firm of Erasmus Verzekeringen was established in 1736. Until 2007, the company was part of Wüstenrot & Württembergische (W&W) in Germany, then at the end of March 2007, Delta Lloyd bought Erasmus Verzekeringen. Since then, the Rotterdam based insurance company has specialized in life insurance. Erasmus Leven works with a professional network of insurance brokers throughout the Netherlands to distribute its products.
More inforamtion : Le cloud by Bull