Published on 08-Dec-2009
Validated on 01 May 2012
"IBM z/VM enables us to set up new test and development partitions in a matter of minutes… This flexibility gives the Enterprise Linux Server a major advantage over a traditional distributed infrastructure, where you would need to purchase a new physical server for each new environment." - Tim Bennett, Project Manager, Marsh
IT/infrastructure, Enterprise Modernization, Linux, Optimizing IT, Virtualization
Marsh is the world's largest insurance broker and risk advisor, with 24,000 employees worldwide and annual revenues of almost $5 billion. Its European, Middle Eastern and African (EMEA) business units have their headquarters in London, and employ approximately 11,000 people.
Marsh wanted to make it easier for employees to use its green-screen Eurosys back-office processing application by creating an intuitive Web-based user interface. The IT team decided to deploy IBM Rational HATS, and looked for the most cost-effective platform to run the new solution.
Following a detailed cost-benefit analysis, the team decided to run the solution on the IBM Enterprise Linux Server platform, creating Red Hat Enterprise Linux partitions under IBM z/VM and activating an IBM Integrated Facility for Linux (IFL) engine in Marsh’s existing IBM System z9 Business Class mainframe.
Web-enablement with Rational HATS reduces training costs and enables more business users to access the Eurosys application. Rational HATS gives Marsh the ability to easily enhance this application and integrate it with new solutions. Even though the Linux environment is relatively small, an IBM ELS solution is more cost-effective than comparable ten-core x86-based architectures. IBM z/VM virtualisation can create new Linux test and development partitions in minutes.
Marsh is the world’s largest insurance broker and risk advisor, with 24,000 employees worldwide and annual revenues of almost $5 billion. Its European, Middle Eastern and African (EMEA) business units have their headquarters in London, and employ approximately 11,000 people.
For many years, the EMEA region’s main operations have relied on a core contract management and fiduciary accounting system known as Eurosys, which runs in a z/OS environment on the company’s IBM System z9 Business Class mainframe. The system is accessed on a daily basis by around 5,000 business users via a green-screen terminal interface.
“We saw that there would be a great deal of benefit for the business if we could enable more users from different areas of the business to access the Eurosys application – but the green-screen interface was complicated and difficult for many employees to understand,” comments Tim Bennett, Project Manager at Marsh. “It took time for new users to gain confidence in using it, and the training costs were high.”
Moving towards Web-enablement
The IT team at Marsh realised that by introducing a new, simplified Web-based interface for the application, it would be much easier to persuade people to start using it. The team considered various ways of implementing a new front-end for the system, and ultimately chose IBM Rational Host Access Transformation Services (HATS).
“When we evaluated the different solutions on the market, we discovered that Rational HATS would not only enable us to create a more user-friendly interface for Eurosys – it would also be able to integrate our policy management application and provide a seamless user experience between the two systems,” says Tim Bennett. “This versatility was a key factor in our decision to implement the Rational HATS solution.”
Linux at low cost
Having chosen the software, the Marsh IT team considered how best to implement it.
“We like to use Linux operating systems wherever possible, because the performance is excellent and the licensing costs are low,” comments Tim Bennett. “Our first thought for this solution was to create a new Linux environment on standard x86-based servers – but when IBM proposed using an Enterprise Linux Server solution instead, using an Integrated Facility for Linux processor in our System z9 Business Class server, we decided to run the numbers on both options.
“Our cost-benefit analysis, which included hardware, software and operational costs, showed that a distributed architecture based on x86 cores would be significantly more expensive than an IFL engine – which shows that it’s definitely worth investigating the Enterprise Linux Server option even for relatively small environments.”
Since Marsh was already using a System z9 Business Class mainframe to run the Eurosys application, the implementation of the new Enterprise Linux Server solution was a simple matter: after an IBM technician had activated an IFL engine and installed some additional memory, Marsh was ready to set up its new Linux environment.
“Compared to procuring several new Intel servers, waiting for them to be delivered, finding space for them in the data centre, connecting all the cables and so on, it was a really quick and easy process,” says Tim Bennett. “We didn’t need to buy any new hardware, and we completed the whole implementation during a standard weekend maintenance slot, so there was no disruption for our users.”
Marsh installed the Rational HATS software in a Red Hat Enterprise Linux environment, and is currently testing the solution ahead of a full rollout to users.
“During the development of the solution, the fact that we’re running it on the Enterprise Linux Server has been a real bonus,” comments Tim Bennett. “IBM z/VM enables us to set up new test and development partitions in a matter of minutes, so if we want to try something out, we can do it very quickly. This flexibility gives the Enterprise Linux Server a major advantage over a traditional distributed infrastructure, where you would need to purchase a new physical server for each new environment.”
Broader access to key applications
When the solution goes into production, Marsh has high hopes that the new, simple interface will help reduce training costs and encourage users to make more effective use of Eurosys application in their day-to-day work.
“Ultimately, we expect the Rational HATS solution to cut training costs and broaden the user-base of one of our most important applications – boosting productivity and enhancing customer service,” concludes Tim Bennett. “Running an Enterprise Linux Server solution provides a reliable, secure and flexible platform at significantly lower cost than a comparable x86-based infrastructure.”
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