Reimagining IT-as-service at Allianz

Jonathan Buckley, Infrastructure Manager, Allianz Australia

At Allianz, as a provider of insurance and risk management products and services we have extremely stringent data security and disaster recovery needs, which means it’s essential we efficiently manage our data centre costs and allocate our resources accordingly.

To achieve this, we looked at virtualising our systems, but alone this was not sufficient. For instance, the platform deployed did not offer auto-provisioning and cloud capabilities, and a third of our OS images were still running on physical servers. This meant the IT department faced challenges in delivering business leads – with a lead time of up to seven weeks to provision infrastructure requirements.

Coupled with our concerns around disaster recovery, particularly the reliability of data storage, it was clear we needed a change to better service the needs of our two-million-plus policy holders in Australia.

As such, we embarked on a journey to update our virtualisation platform. We wanted to create an environment that was stable and scalable, that could effectively act as IT-as-a-service model across our fleet of Windows and Linux based clients, and which would enable the team to easily modernise legacy workloads.

Huge Savings in the Cloud

After a successful pilot program we launched a Microsoft private cloud in our datacenter, running on FlexPod with Microsoft Private Cloud, Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V and System Center 2012 R2. With Microsoft’s private cloud platform, our IT resources at Allianz are moving toward a more service-oriented model, to ensure agility in providing for the needs of the business.

The platform offers fully-automated orchestration and service provisioning, and the IT department has started using the highly scalable solution for primary workload and backups – we hope to be completely migrated to the to the new Microsoft platform by the end of 2014, when we predict we’ll start seeing some significant cost-savings: by the end of 2015 we expect to have reduced the costs of running our data centre by 38 per cent from what they are now, and for this to increase to 42 per cent a year later.

We want to be seen as one of the most innovative financial services companies in Australia and if we are to do that we need to be able to deploy new services quickly and efficiently and with this project we’ve certainly taken the right steps. The key for us now is to establish the reference architecture and to ensure stability, reliability and ease of integration to realise benefits including the cost-savings already mentioned.

Before we undertook this project with Microsoft, provisioning new services would typically involve multiple teams, working over multiple weeks. Now? With Hyper-V and System Center, provisioning tends to take a couple of minutes. Similarly, we’re not building things from the ground, and firmware updates are easier to manage, which gives us a real sense of comfort in manageability and conveys a sense of ownership to our infrastructure team.

Innovation at the Core

Just like Microsoft, Innovation is at the core of everything we do and we aren’t stopping with this private cloud roll out. With the opening of Microsoft Azure Geo in New South Wales and Victoria we are already exploring ways in which we could implement a hybrid cloud as an extension of this private cloud environment. We’re in the process of migrating legacy applications including SQL, Citrix and x86 Linux-based environments into our private cloud.

Our IT resources at Allianz are moving toward a more service-oriented model, to ensure agility in providing for the needs of the business.

Related Posts