Allianz Australia Limited Standardizes On Red Hat Enterprise Linux on IBM’s System z Platform and JBoss Enterprise Middleware

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September 16, 2009

Customer: Allianz Australia Insurance Limited (Allianz)

Industry: Insurance
Geography: APAC
Country: United States


Business Challenge:

Rebuild Allianz’s IT infrastructure based on a flexible and scalable platform that could leverage new virtualisation technology to generate hardware and support savings, and reduce its underlying software and operations costs for several strategic business application projects

Migration Path:

Windows and Intel-based infrastructure to Red Hat Enterprise Linux on IBM System z10 mainframe and from Websphere to JBoss Enterprise Middleware on Intel processor based HP ProLiant servers.

Software:

Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Red Hat Network Satellite, JBoss Enterprise Middleware, JBoss Operations Network, Red Hat Consulting

Hardware:

IBM System z10 mainframe, HP ProLiant servers

Benefits:

Significant reduction in middleware software and support costs, reallocation of IT budget from software licensing to staff and resources, resolution of data centre power limitations with new capacity for growth, superior workload management and operational efficiency, reduced carbon footprint, increased flexibility, scalability, and freedom from vendor lock-in

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Background:

Operating across Australia and New Zealand with approximately 3,300 staff, Allianz offers a wide range of insurance and risk management products and services, including personal insurance, industrial and commercial insurance, corporate insurance, public and products liability and workersand#x2019; compensation insurance. Allianz is Australiaand#x2019;s fourth largest general insurer with over two million policyholders. It also provides some form of insurance cover for more than half of Australiaand#x2019;s top 50 BRW-listed companies (2005). The organisation has been a member of the Australian Governmentand#x2019;s Greenhouse Challenge Plus program and the wider Global Allianz Group has a target to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent by 2012.

Business Challenge:

In 2007, Allianz Australia’s IT department reached a crossroads as it faced a data centre that was at capacity and network equipment that was at end of life. As a long-standing Windows shop, Allianz saw the situation as an opportunity to build a completely new infrastructure from the network right down to the back-up devices.

“After running WebSphere applications on an Intel platform using Windows for some time, we realised we couldn’t go any further with the current set-up,” said Peter Rowe Head of Infrastructure and Operations, Allianz Australia Limited.

In addition, Allianz had also reached the limitations of its Windows based operating platform.

“We needed a platform that could give us the flexibility and scalability to enable us to grow and expand for the future,” said Rowe.

In line with Allianz’s goal to reduce emissions by 20 percent by 2012, the IT department was also interested in examining how it could take advantage of new virtualisation technology to save on power usage.

Solution:

After comprehensive analysis, Allianz concluded that the most viable option for the business going forward would be to:

- combine the performance and reliability of the IBM System z10 mainframe with the flexibility and efficiency of Red Hat Enterprise Linux; and

- deploy JBoss Enterprise Middleware on the Intel platform – implementing a common system across diverse hardware

In September 2008, Allianz received project approval to commence both infrastructure refreshes concurrently. “IBM System z10 mainframe running Red Hat Enterprise Linux was undoubtedly the best fit-for-purpose solution for us,” said Rowe.

“The mainframe offered us the best option for consolidation – Our business took the view that the mainframe was essentially another commodotised piece of hardware and for us, the value really lies in the interface between the server and the applications. Our target was to employ a Red Hat Enterprise Linux based platform that could combine agility with low support costs.

“When assessing operating systems for the IBM System z10, Allianz found that open source based Linux would deliver the best outcome and as a result, selected Red Hat Enterprise Linux, to host all Internet-facing applications, including home and motor insurance quoting, broker and agency pages, premium funding pages, and other broker tools for policy servicing.

“A major part of the decision to use Red Hat Enterprise Linux was its tight integration with the IBM platform and its impressive support structure,” said Rowe, “Red Hat’s relationship with IBM meant that if we were going to have any issues, Red Hat could essentially replicate the scenario on their own IBM z10.” For ongoing, centralised systems management, Allianz also implemented Red Hat Network Satellite to complement the management of Red Hat Enterprise Linux and minimise daily administrative demands.

As a centralised tool, Red Hat Network Satellite can help boost productivity by creating a single template for managing multiple servers more efficiently. It creates a system for grouping machines together and mapping out how to manage them. Having this template also means that one administrator can run the same updates on a greater number of systems simultaneously, and can build a new and completely configured machine within a couple of minutes.

In addition, it has the capability to manage virtualised instances of Red Hat Enterprise Linux through the same interface regardless of underlying hardware platform. Red Hat Network Satellite manages Red Hat on the mainframe in the same manner and interface as Red Hat on a distributed machine.

As an alternative to WebSphere, which Allianz had been using as part of its existing framework, the organisation implemented JBoss Enterprise Application Platform for content management, document management, business process automation, and client portals, along with JBoss Operations Network Management to reduce systems management and resource costs.

“We had three new workloads – BPM, content management, and print services – that had begun on the old system, and which had to be redeployed in order for us to achieve the projected capacity needed for these workloads over the next two to three years,” said Rowe.

“JBoss has enabled us to cost-effectively leverage the recent advancement in Intel chipsets in HP hardware, without the costs traditionally associated with multi-core software licensing models,” said Rowe.

Allianz enlisted Red Hat and JBoss Consulting services to assist in building automated provisioning of new Red Hat Enterprise Linux and JBoss Enterprise Middleware deployments through Red Hat Network Satellite and JBoss Operations Network in a matter of minutes rather than days.

Benefits:

Commencing production in late April 2009, Allianz has already observed a number of solution benefits during the testing phase.

“The combination of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Red Hat Network Satellite, JBoss Enterprise Application Platform and JBoss Operations Network was, and will continue to be, valuable for Allianz, as the solutions enabled the organisation to streamline operations and free up resources for allocation to other high-value tasks,” said Rowe.

Allianz will save more than $500,000 in middleware licensing costs, as it deploys JBoss Enterprise Middleware on the Intel platform.

Plus, by using Red Hat and JBoss Consulting and Training, the Allianz team has been able to get up-to-speed in a very short period of time, once again freeing up funds to invest in areas such as staff development, rather than expensive proprietary infrastructure software.

“We were looking for an operating system that we could simply drop down into the network, that was independent of the hardware, and provided a higher level of service with centralised management for patching,” said Rowe.

“So far with Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Red Hat Network Satellite, and JBoss Enterprise Middleware, we’ve begun to significantly reduce day-to-day security administration and now have more strings in our bow in terms of virtualisation and what we can do to minimise both the investment in hardware and ongoing production costs – particularly those associated with escalating licensing and support costs,” said Rowe.

Allianz believes this is just the beginning, with expectations that the move from a Windows-based environment to a virtualised Red Hat Enterprise Linux environment, together with the JBoss Enterprise Middleware deployment will save the organisation over one million dollars a year in hardware and support costs.

In addition to resolving data centre capacity issues, the new system is expected to accommodate significant future growth whilst enabling superior workload management and operational efficiencies, and helping to reduce the organisation’s carbon footprint.

Allianz also believes it will continue to benefit from the fact that Red Hat has more applications certified to run on Red Hat Enterprise Linux than any other open source operating system platform.

Once the production system is up and running, Allianz will shift its focus toward the continued reduction of proprietary software in favour of more widespread use of Red Hat Enterprise Linux and JBoss Enterprise Middleware.

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