Founded in 1993, Admiral Group specializes in offering direct motor insurance and price comparison through its UK brands: Admiral, Bell, Diamond, elephant.co.uk, and confused.com. It also has operations in USA, Canada, Spain, Italy, France, and India and employs over 6,000 people worldwide. It is a highly profitable and fast-growing financial services intermediary that insures more than 3.4 million vehicles in the UK with annual revenues exceeding £2.9 billion.
Investing in Infrastructure
Admiral is a fast-growth business and has made significant investments in IT infrastructure to meet increasing demands for capacity, performance, and scalability. As the web-based side of the business expanded, it was apparent that the organization’s existing core IBM System i 595 servers would not be sufficient to meet their growing needs. As a result, IBM POWER7 processor-based systems were deployed in Cardiff and Swansea to provide a modernized webserver architecture capable of handling the significant volumes of insurance transactions and an increasing workload.
However, the increasingly complex IT infrastructure would place additional pressure on the operations team that was already having to work in shifts to deliver 24/7 support. Admiral wanted to install a robust systems management solution that would ease the burden on the operations team while providing effective monitoring across a multi-platform server environment, as well as the necessary management control to meet system availability targets and minimize disruption to the business.
Installing the Solution
Admiral’s IT team undertook a comprehensive market review and evaluation process to determine the most appropriate solution to meet their requirements. Admiral selected Systems Operations Suite from Halcyon as the solution that would best meet the needs of the organization. This gave Admiral the ability to proactively monitor critical business applications and monitor all server messages, job queues, output queues, and devices for problems or threshold breaches. Admiral also selected Halcyon’s Advanced Job Scheduler to automate manual daily checks, repetitive tasks, and mission-critical business processes.
Halcyon worked in close partnership with Admiral through the installation process to ensure that the system met all monitoring requirements. After an extended period of testing, Systems Operations Suite was deployed on a software-as-a-service (SaaS) basis.
According to Paul Connah, Service Improvement and Operations Manager at Admiral: “We were impressed by Halcyon’s collaborative approach to working in partnership with our IT operations team throughout the installation process. With an in-depth understanding of what we were trying to achieve, they really helped us understand the cost benefits to be derived by automating the most mundane tasks through to the most critical business processes.”
Maintaining Service Levels
Halcyon's Systems Operations Suite has enabled Admiral to make significant changes to the way that IT support is provided against a backdrop of growing business volumes and an expanding IT infrastructure. Prior to deploying the Halcyon solution, Admiral’s IT operation teams in Swansea and Cardiff worked in shifts to provide 24/7 on-site support. Both Admiral and Halcyon teams carried out extensive, technical due diligence to ensure the new solution was ready to facilitate change from manned to on-call support.
The configuration of the Systems Operations Suite rules were also tested to make sure that proposed on-call rotations and escalation protocols had the flexibility to meet the demands of the business as the IT infrastructure continued to grow. The Halcyon solution enabled the changeover to take place and a manned service is now only provided between 08:00 – 18:00 with a call-out rota to deal with any issues that occur at other times.
Admiral has also been able to reduce its batch processing runs by moving from a sequential process with buffers for delays to an intelligent solution that could run several jobs simultaneously with interlinked dependencies. Halcyon’s Advanced Job Scheduler has allowed critical overnight processes to be completed faster, improved the success ratios of such jobs and, in the event of a business critical job not completing on time, generated automatic alerts for the IT operation team through Systems Operations Suite.
“Automating time-consuming manual tasks has helped to increase the productivity of the whole IT operations team,” continued Paul Connah. “This has delivered an increase in system availability and enabled us to maintain service levels for our growing IT infrastructure without requiring additional staff.”