COSVI puts a premium on meeting customer needs

With a complete virtualized solution from server to IBM XIV Storage System

Published on 19-Jul-2010

Validated on 01 Oct 2012

"We see technology as the key to taking COSVI on that journey to the next level. ... If you are looking into transforming your technology environment, I would say you have to look at XIV." - Raymond Ortiz, President, COSVI Asset Management Corp (CAMC).

Customer:
COSVI (Cooperativa de Seguros de Vida)

Industry:
Insurance

Deployment country:
Puerto Rico

Solution:
IT/infrastructure, Business Continuity, Business Resiliency, Dynamic Infrastructure, Enabling Business Flexibility, Energy Efficiency, Enterprise Resource Planning, Infrastructure Simplification, Optimizing IT, Optimizing IT

IBM Business Partner:
SAP

Overview

COSVI (Cooperativa de Seguros de Vida) is one of the leading insurance companies in Puerto Rico. Its workforce of more than 330 employees sells and administers a broad range of insurance products across Life and Disability, Accident and Health and Retirement. As a cooperative, COSVI aims to make services available to the widest possible group of customers, and is proud to insure one million lives in Puerto Rico.

Business need:
To support its business transformation and server virtualization plans, COSVI wanted to enable faster provisioning of new storage. The company also wanted to improve storage performance and cut costs.

Solution:
The IBM XIV Storage System, supporting dozens of VMware virtual machines running Microsoft Exchange Server, Microsoft SQL Server and Microsoft SharePoint, plus SAP ERP and core insurance applications developed in house.

Benefits:
Improved database performance by 30 to 40 percent. Cut footprint and energy costs. Enabled instant snapshots, and cut administration time and effort by 85 percent.

Case Study

COSVI (Cooperativa de Seguros de Vida) is one of the leading insurance companies in Puerto Rico. Its workforce of more than 330 employees sells and administers a broad range of insurance products across Life and Disability, Accident and Health and Retirement. As a cooperative, COSVI aims to make services available to the widest possible group of customers, and is proud to insure one million lives in Puerto Rico.

Now in its 50th year of successful operations, COSVI is undergoing a major transformation. The key aims are to get closer to the community and to refocus on the core business of life insurance—both of which have prompted a review of business processes and supporting technologies. To advance its growth plans, enable faster response to new business requirements, improve storage performance and free up IT staff from routine administration, COSVI has invested in the IBM XIV Storage System.

“We see technology as the key to taking COSVI on that journey to the next level,” says Raymond Ortiz, President, COSVI Asset Management Corp (CAMC). “XIV has been fantastic, saving us a lot of time and freeing up our people to focus on other tasks, and our strong relationship with IBM is also very important. If you are looking into transforming your technology environment, I would say you have to look at XIV.”

Business pressures
The insurance industry faces challenges similar to those of the broader financial services sector: Maintaining compliance with local, regional and global regulations; delivering fast and reliable performance across millions of customer accounts; providing strong security for personal data and protection against disasters; and enabling the rapid launch of new products and services.

“Given the size of our business and the type of data we hold, we face significant pressures around business performance and compliance,” says Erick Valentín, Vice President, IT, CAMC. “Reliability and performance are therefore mission-critical factors for us when it comes to data storage.”

The existing storage environment at COSVI was no longer serving the business adequately, and could not scale to meet its future ambitions. Storage administration was complex and resource-intensive, and it was not possible to provision new storage as rapidly as business users wanted it. Disaster recovery and security were problem areas for the existing environment, and the planned introduction of server virtualization necessitated a significant increase in storage capacity.

Virtualized solution
To solve these issues, COSVI selected the IBM XIV Storage System, deploying a partial rack with 27 TB of usable capacity. The XIV system is connected to a cluster of IBM System x® servers running virtualized Microsoft Windows Server environments on VMware. The servers are running Microsoft SQL Server databases, Microsoft SharePoint, Microsoft Exchange Server and other business productivity applications, plus various security infrastructure components. Also running on VMware and supported by the XIV are line-of-business applications, including SAP ERP, core insurance software, a portal, and an ImageRight document and content management solution.

“For our server virtualization project, we needed about 20 TB of capacity, which would have required four full racks in our old environment,” says Armando Rosa, Systems Administrator, CAMC. “IBM XIV gives us 27 TB in less than half a rack, and at a lower price than before—it’s a really amazingly small footprint. And a smaller footprint will translate into lower energy and cooling costs, which are critically important to us.”

Server virtualization tends to add complexity in storage configuration and tuning. By selecting the XIV system, COSVI avoided this potential additional complexity, gaining a tremendously flexible solution with extremely low configuration requirements.

“IBM XIV is effectively a self-tuning box: You don't have to tune configuration settings and you don’t have to worry about creating RAID groups, as we did with our previous storage products,” says Rosa. “The administrative overhead that virtualization adds is gone with the XIV solution. Our XIV deployment only lasted one day and just one hour of training the next day. So you can start seeing the benefits on ‘day one’ when you install the solution.”

Out-of-the-box benefits
IBM XIV has built-in software for thin provisioning, snapshots and replication, eliminating the cost and effort of licensing these capabilities separately. Noted Rosa: “With XIV, you get replication out of the box—it's not a license, it's not an optional extra, and it's very simple to deploy. In terms of disaster recovery, XIV is just ‘plug and play’: Set it and forget it. And that's true of almost all management tasks. The GUI is just amazing—so intuitive and so easy to use.”

“IBM XIV provides us with a clear competitive advantage,” says Erick Torres, Networks Administrator, CAMC. “The fact that the licensing is all inclusive is a huge plus because it means any new features can be made readily available to us, and the XIV support team is very proactive at alerting us as to what those new features are and how COSVI can take advantage of them.”

With its former storage solution, taking point-in-time copies of data had a major impact on performance, so could only be done overnight. With the XIV storage system, COSVI can take snapshots in just seconds, and with zero impact on live systems. The IBM XIV system’s built-in role-based security enables COSVI to delegate storage administration tasks according to experience, creating a more efficient and productive working environment that saves money and boosts employee satisfaction.

Fast and simple
“The IBM XIV system is perfect for COSVI,” says Torres. “It provides an ease of management that, in my opinion, is unmatched in the industry. The performance of XIV is comparable to that of a highly tuned storage solution minus all the complexities involved in such a solution. With our previous solution, provisioning space for the business could take up to a full business day and it could only be done by a senior administrator. With the IBM XIV solution, that task was reduced to less than 10 minutes, and most of that time is spent deciding what space to provision.”

The introduction of IBM XIV Storage System has also delivered significant benefits to COSVI’s business users: Database server performance has increased by 30 to 40 percent, and users have reported a noticeable improvement in application response times.

“I think that the IBM XIV solution is a critical component in our infrastructure, and obviously it is part of COSVI’s success,” says Valentín. “The performance is outstanding, and XIV is also a great solution in terms of its robustness and its disaster recovery capabilities—a crucial benefit in our industry.”

Products and services used

IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

Hardware:
Storage: XIV, System x

Service:
IBM-SAP Alliance

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2010 IBM Systems and Technology Group Route 100 Somers, New York 10589 U.S.A. Produced in the United States of America July 2010 All Rights Reserved IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, System x and XIV are trademarks or registered trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation in the United States, other countries, or both. If these and other IBM trademarked terms are marked on their first occurrence in this information with a trademark symbol (® or ™), these symbols indicate U.S. registered or common law trademarks owned by IBM at the time this information was published. Such trademarks may also be registered or common law trademarks in other countries. A current list of IBM trademarks is available on the web at “Copyright and trademark information” at ibm.com/legal/copytrade.shtml Microsoft and Windows are trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States, other countries, or both. Other company, product and service names may be trademarks or service marks of others. References in this publication to IBM products, programs or services do not imply that IBM intends to make these available in all countries in which IBM operates Offerings are subject to change, extension or withdrawal without notice. All client examples cited represent how some clients have used IBM products and the results they may have achieved. The information in this document is provided “as is” without any warranty, either expressed or implied.