BGL Group is one of the UK’s largest personal lines insurance groups. It has over 2,400 employees located at its headquarters in Peterborough and at contact centers in Coventry and Sunderland. The organization serves more than 4.6 million customers through a number of market-leading brands, including Bennetts, Budget Insurance, and comparethemarket.com, the leading consumer price comparison site for insurance products.
Having experienced a period of consistent growth, BGL was making significant investments in extending its IT infrastructure to meet the increase in business levels and accommodate future expansion.
To support the substantial growth in online business, BGL installed two new IBM Power Systems running AIX as well as twenty-two AIX blade servers to run alongside the existing IBM i (iSeries) servers. The IT team at BGL already used Halcyon’s Operations Center to closely monitor and manage critical business processes running on the IBM i platform.
BGL wanted to deploy an enterprise-wide, cross-platform system monitoring solution that would give a single, integrated view of the entire IT infrastructure, including the new AIX servers and the established IBM i operating environment, to maintain critical IT processes and business applications.
Network Server Suite
BGL researched the market to establish which systems management tools offered the highest levels of automation across a multi-platform environment and provided early notification of any issues so that they could be promptly dealt with before affecting the business.
Halcyon Network Server Suite was selected as it contained a native monitoring component, which resides on each individual AIX server, enabling in-depth monitoring and significant levels of automation. The solution has been designed to improve operational efficiency and ensure maximum availability of critical business applications.
According to Andrew Richardson, Senior Manager IT Service Delivery at BGL, “Having already had extensive experience with Halcyon Operations Center for our IBM i servers, we were familiar and satisfied with Halcyon’s methodology for systems management, their expertise, and the quality of their technical support. This gave us the confidence that the company would have the ability to provide an enterprise-wide solution as we expanded our IT infrastructure to meet the growing needs of the business.”
Implementation on AIX
Halcyon’s Network Server Suite was deployed across the first batch of AIX servers to prove the benefits of the solution working across the new infrastructure before being rolled out across the whole AIX environment. The solution was quick and easy to install, did not require extensive consultancy services and provided BGL with a fully integrated solution.
Halcyon’s Operations Center, in combination with Network Server Suite, provided the monitoring requirements for BGL’s critical applications, IT systems, and services running on both the IBM i and the AIX platforms.
BGL used Network Server Suite for the AIX platform on a software-as-a-service (SaaS) basis for the first twelve months, during which time the system delivered a clear return on investment. This was achieved by enabling BGL staff to manage both services residing on the IBM and AIX platforms from a single console. After initially renting the software, the contract was subsequently converted to an enterprise license model giving the flexibility to add new IT systems as and when required without incurring additional cost.
Availability and Productivity
Halcyon has enabled BGL to integrate cross-platform monitoring using the Enterprise Console, a dashboard that provides a unified view of all systems activity. Rules were configured within the software to cater for the IT team’s escalation and alerting protocols, including the ability to view messages and events from other legacy tools. This delivered further efficiencies by reducing the number and variety of consoles that were previously used to just a single display.
The Halcyon solution has also automated the scheduling of BGL’s critical processes around the clock. Manual actions previously undertaken by IT operational staff, such as restarting a server or a service in response to an issue occurring or running end-of-day and start-of-day processes, have now been automated and are handled by Halcyon. This has improved the availability of key business applications, enhanced system performance, and increased the productivity of the IT support team.
Should a critical system event occur that needs immediate attention, alerts are sent by email or SMS direct to designated operational staff using smartphones, laptops, or tablets regardless of location.
“The Halcyon solution is simple to use and has high levels of functionality allowing it to be adapted to meet the needs of our ever-changing business within minutes. Its flexible architecture allows us to extend either the native footprints or leverage legacy investment in other products with a single Enterprise Console view,” explains Andrew. “We now have high levels of confidence that our whole infrastructure is being monitored efficiently and that critical alerts will be received without delay so appropriate actions can be taken to minimize business disruption.”
Halcyon has developed a close working partnership with BGL and delivers a rapid response to all requests for assistance. It proactively develops enhancements and fixes to maintain the effectiveness of installed systems as well as encouraging customers to actively participate in determining the ongoing product development roadmap to ensure that future systems continue to meet their needs.