Ping An of China Meets Expansion Needs with Stable, Scalable Red Hat Solutions

September 11, 2013

Ping An Insurance (Group) Company of China, Ltd is a leading financial conglomerate that offers a growing portfolio of products to approximately 80 million customers.

Customer: Ping An

Geography: APAC
Country: China


Business Challenge:

To support its rapid expansion, Ping An moved part of the minicomputer-based infrastructure to a PC-based server network running on Red Hat® Enterprise Linux®.

Software:

Red Hat Enterprise Linux
Red Hat Satellite Server
 

Hardware:

HP ProLiant , Dell PowerEdge, IBM System x3850 servers, IBM System x3650 servers

Benefits:

The new solution has helped the firm meet stability, scalability, agility, and cost efficiency objectives.

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Background:

Ping An is China’s first joint stock insurance company. Today, it has developed into an integrated, compact, multi-functional financial services group that includes insurance, banking, and investing services.

Business Challenge:

As of December 31, 2012, the group has more than 510,000 life insurance sales agents and 190,000 full-time employees serving approximately 80 million customers. The group's consolidated total assets and equity attributable to shareholders of the parent company amounted to RMB¥2,844.266 billion and RMB¥159.617 billion, respectively.

Both Ping An Life and Ping An Property & Casualty are ranked as the second-largest insurance companies in China in their respective areas in terms of premium income.

Expansion places greater demand on IT infrastructure

Ping An's business requirements rapidly evolved from offering only insurance in its earlier days to today’s extended portfolio covering insurance, banking, investments, and other financial services.

This expansion led to higher demand on the supporting IT platform and increased need for stability, scalability, agility, and cost efficiency.

Stable, open platform fills requirements for flexibility

Based on these requirements for the business support platform, Ping An began looking for a way to replace its existing minicomputer architecture.

The goal was to migrate to a more stable and open platform that could better adapt to the various types of applications that run on banking, insurance, and securities systems. After carefully considering its requirements and the solutions available in the market, the insurance company chose a solution of PC servers running on Red Hat® Enterprise Linux®.

Solution:

Openness means more choice

The Red Hat solution met the criteria of stability, scalability, flexibility, and cost efficiency. “Stability is vital for insurance and financial systems. Any business interruption may cause us huge losses. Red Hat Enterprise Linux is recognized for its stability, with a support life cycle of up to 10 years,” said Yi Li, deputy chief engineer, Ping An Technology.

Compatibility libraries provide backwards compatibility, which helps third-party applications work better across different versions of the operating system. Both the licenses and the support life cycle provide security for the long-term stability of Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux also supports many applications, including insurance sales, account management systems for online banking, mobile trading systems, and investment management systems. It can scale easily both horizontally and vertically to meet growing business needs. And because Linux is open and standards-based, it helps the core business minimize risk and reduce losses.

Ping An is taking advantage of open source flexibility, which prevents vendor lock-in and allows Ping An greater autonomy when choosing the most appropriate IT infrastructure. Moreover, Red Hat subscriptions are not version-specific and also interoperable, with the ability to move from physical to virtual machines and into modern cloud environments.

Benefits:

Excellent stability, scalability, and compatibility

During the deployment phase, the flexibility and scalability of Red Hat Enterprise Linux make mass systems deployment convenient and fast. Modifying the kickstart file before installation helped Ping An meet new requirements and greatly reduced the time of overall deployment.

Ping An deployed Red Hat Enterprise Linux in 2009. Over the past four years, the integrated conglomerate company has been able to expand and offer new products. Because of the new Red Hat solution, Ping An Technology is able to manage and adapt to the growth with the failure rate greatly reduced.

The solution is proven to be very stable; In past several years, Red Hat solution met and exceeded the most demanding internal IT quality and safety standards of Ping An, and the high availability of the solution has resulted in minimal downtime during the past years.

"By virtue of its excellent stability, scalability, and compatibility, Red Hat Enterprise Linux is able to easily meet our various complex business requirements," said Yi Li.

Red Hat offers complete solutions

Red Hat Satellite Server (previously known as Red Hat Network Satellite Server) plays an important role in the rapid and automatic deployment, system software version management, package updates, and batch processing of Ping An’s technology solution, as it enhances the efficiency of system operation and maintenance.

Red Hat Global Support Services provides strong back-end support, ensuring the stable operation of the system with professional technical support capability and fast response. By participating in Red Hat Training programs, Ping An’s IT administrators quickly understand products, improve work efficiency, and reduce the costs of operation, maintenance, and management. “We can also use Red Hat’s support relationship manager service, if needed, to identify common ssues in the environment and receive recommendations for improvement via proactive and regular communications. This would help us to avoid risks in a timely manner,” said Wenxiang Tang, team leader, Linux OS management, IT Infrastructure Department.

Do more with less money

Linux runs on commodity hardware, so Ping An’s overall hardware investment cost is lowered. There is no additional product upgrade or maintenance fees, which also greatly reduces the overall system cost. "By using Red Hat Enterprise Linux on PC-based servers, the total cost per central processing unit (CPU) has been reduced by more than 60% when compared to minicomputer-based infrastructure," said Yi Li.

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