Published on 25-Apr-2008
Validated on 07 Oct 2013
"We knew that Optim would provide the capabilities we needed to automate the process of retrieving archived records. So far, we have shortened the retrieval process from several days to a few hours. " - --Xavier Mascaró, Senior DBA at Allianz Seguros
Business Resiliency, Cloud & Service Management, Information On Demand, Leveraging Information
The Allianz Group provides its more than 60 million clients worldwide with a comprehensive range of services in the areas of property and casualty insurance, life and health insurance, asset management and banking. Its subsidiary, Allianz Seguros, ranks second in the market, with over 2,400 million Euros in premiums.
Improve application deployment processes. Reduce capacity requirements for multiple development and testing environments. Protect client privacy to comply with the Spanish Law of Protection of Personal Data (LOPD). Improve in-house processes for retrieving archived insurance records.
IBM® Optim™ Test Data Management Solution IBM® Optim™ Data Growth Solution IBM® Optim™ Data Privacy Solution
Reduced resources needed for application development and testing by creating smaller, more robust testing environments. Applied proven data masking techniques to protect privacy and support compliance with LOPD regulations. Reduced time to retrieve archived insurance records from days to hours.
IBM® Optim™ provides proven test data management, data masking, and database archiving capabilities that enable organizations to improve application reliability, mitigate risk and control costs.
Insurance leader focuses on business growth
The Allianz Group provides its more than 60 million clients worldwide with a comprehensive range of services in the areas of property and casualty insurance, life and health insurance, asset management and banking. Its subsidiary, Allianz Seguros, ranks second in the market, with over 2,400 million Euros in premiums. The company offers a comprehensive range of insurance products and services, including individual and group life, health, home, casualty, auto, boating and more to meet the needs of nearly three million clients.
Allianz Seguros has contributed to the “3 + One” business model, a successful strategic program initiated by the Allianz Group to achieve sustainable and profitable growth. Primary objectives of the “3 + One” program are to fortify the capital base, improve operations, reduce complexity and increase sustainable competitiveness and value. An increase in the number of insurance premiums, a reduction in the claims ratio and continuous management improvement has contributed to continued business growth.
Allianz Seguros relies on several mission-critical mainframe insurance applications, developed in-house, to manage operations in all areas of its business activities. Insurance agents, claims representatives and accounting staff in all branch offices rely on these applications to manage information for policy management, claims processing and premium billing, among other activities.
Delivering application enhancements presents challenges
Allianz Seguros has its own internal application development and quality assurance teams that develop and enhance application functionality. The ability to deliver new insurance products and services is important to promote continued business growth, which presented several challenges.
“Our primary challenge was to improve the efficiency of the development and quality assurance processes by reducing the size of the development and testing environments,” said Ramon Lasurt, Director of Development at Allianz Seguros. “Next, we wanted a way to ensure accuracy by preserving the integrity of the test data, and finally, we needed to mask client information in the development and testing environments to protect privacy.”
There were often at least three development and testing mainframe environments in use at the same time. The quality of these environments degraded quickly because they were used for multiple tests. Every few months, the development team would use its in-house “subsetting” program to copy test data from its large application production environment, comprising about 700 GB with tables that contained over 200 million rows. “We would refresh these development and testing environments as needed,” said Xavier Mascaró, Senior DBA at Allianz Seguros. “However, the refresh process, using data cloned from large production databases, was very complex and time consuming, and the results often affected the integrity of the data. We estimated that reducing the testing environments to only 10 percent of the production environment would provide significant time and cost savings.”
Because Allianz needed to protect confidential client information to comply with the Spanish Law of Protection of Personal Data (LOPD), privacy protection remained a high priority. In fact, recent revisions to the LOPD held individual staff members responsible for protecting client records. To address this need, the DBA team had to write special programs to mask client names, tax ID numbers (Número de Identificatión Fiscal or NIF) and national identifiers (Documento Nacional de Identidad or DNI) and then move data into the application development and testing environments.
Preserving the integrity of the test data presented another challenge because the data structures that supported the insurance applications included dozens of complex relationships. Although the in-house subsetting program offered some of the needed functionality, to ensure valid test results, the development team needed a test data management solution that would accurately preserve the referential integrity of the data for even the most complex data relationships.
Optim improves test data management
After researching to find a solution, senior management at Allianz Seguros decided to evaluate IBM® Optim™. Members of the evaluation team included the Senior DBA, as well as the Chief of Technology and Production, the Director of Development and the Director of Systems, who both report to the Director General. “After attending a demonstration, the members of our evaluation team agreed that Optim provided the capabilities we needed to improve application development and testing processes and protect privacy,” said Xavier Mascaró.
Immediately after purchasing Optim, the development team focused on defining the relationships and criteria for subsetting, based on their complex relational database environments. In addition to using relationships defined to the database, Optim offered flexibility for defining and managing the complex relationships defined within the application logic. Next, the DBA team implemented Optim in its integration testing environment.
Obtaining precise subsets of referentially intact data to create realistic test databases is no longer an issue, and the right-sized testing environments require much less capacity. Refreshing the integration testing environment takes only a few hours during a weekend. Optim also provides a variety of techniques for masking client names and DNI to protect privacy. It is no longer necessary to write special programs. Optim saves time and ensures consistency for creating and masking test environments in a single operation.
In-house archiving presents challenges
A few years after the positive experience of implementing Optim for test data management, Allianz Seguros turned its attention to Optim’s database archiving capabilities. Applications, such as Vida (life insurance) and Contabilidad de Agentes (agent accounts), continued to collect historical records, and this information was never deleted. In Spain, there is no law that states that insurance records must be retained for a specific number of years. However, in the insurance business, a policy can be in effect for a lifetime. It was important to retain access to these historical records.
Although the IT department had been using an in-house archiving program for years to manage data growth, their methods for accessing and retrieving archived information were time consuming. For example, if an agent requested specific archived insurance claims records, it was necessary to recover one or several files from a backup tape and send a printed copy to the requestor. This process could take between one and four days, which had a negative impact on policy management, claims processing and other insurance service activities.
Optim ensures access to historical records
Optim’s proven database archiving capabilities offered Allianz Seguros several advantages over its in-house archiving program. First, Optim archives application transaction records in complete business context, in effect creating historical reference snapshots of the business. Archives can be saved to a variety of storage media for easy retrieval. In addition, using Optim delivers more capabilities and eliminates the need to maintain the in-house archiving program.
Optim is being implemented using a phased approach, starting with relatively defined archive processes and then extending to more complex application archiving projects. The DBA team was able to easily define the business policies and rules for archiving insurance records to satisfy the specific needs of the insurance agents, claims representatives and accounting staff.
Optim is currently implemented for three applications, Vida (life insurance), Contabilidad de Agentes (agent accounts) and Claims. Archive processing for the first two applications is done annually, and archive processing for claims is done once a month. Unlike the in-house archiving program, Optim provides capabilities to research archives and selectively retrieve historical records from an archive, as needed. This selective retrieval option is an advantage because before implementing Optim, it was necessary to reload entire large files from tape.
“We knew that Optim would provide the capabilities we needed to automate the process of retrieving archived records,” said Xavier Mascaró. “So far, we have shortened the retrieval process from several days to a few hours.”
Delivering business value across the enterprise
Since implementing Optim for test data management, Allianz Seguros has achieved its business objectives to deliver new application enhancements by improving development and testing processing environments and protecting privacy.
“Optim’s test data management capabilities have been fully implemented since 2003, and we are very satisfied with the results,” said Xavier Mascaró. “We can create realistic test environments that use much less disk space than we would by cloning the production database. It takes less time to create and refresh the test environments, which is more cost effective. We are also impressed with Optim’s capabilities to preserve the integrity of the data, even when combined with data masking techniques. We can use realistic data that has been de-identified to protect privacy and still provides valid test results to help us ensure application reliability.”
Allianz Seguros was proactive in implementing an in-house archiving program to manage data growth. However, implementing Optim has provided better, more comprehensive archiving capabilities for managing data growth and faster, more efficient methods for archiving, accessing and retrieving archived records. “Implementing Optim for database archiving has reduced the time to retrieve archived records,” said Mascaró. “We will continue to implement Optim for other applications because we are satisfied that the archives are accessible to support our current and future business requirements.”
“Optim has provided the enterprise data management capabilities we needed to improve efficiencies in development and testing environments, as well as our production environments,” said Mascaró. “As a result, we have improved the way we manage our application information to support our business objectives for continued growth.”
About IBM Optim
IBM® Optim™ enterprise data management solutions focus on critical business issues, such as data growth management, data privacy compliance, test data management, e-discovery, application upgrades, migrations and retirements. Optim aligns application data management with business objectives to help optimize performance, mitigate risk and control costs, while delivering capabilities that scale across enterprise applications, databases and platforms. Today, Optim helps companies across industries worldwide capitalize on the business value of their enterprise applications and databases, with the power to manage enterprise application data through every stage of its lifecycle.
For more information
To learn more about IBM Optim enterprise data management solutions, contact your IBM sales representative or visit: www.optimsolution.com.
Products and services used
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