IT Professional Services, Strategy and virtualisation delivered for an important inssurance company.

Kooperativa a.s. (Kooperativa) and Česká podnikatelská pojišťovna a.s. (ČPP) (Czech Business Insurance) companies have been acting on the Czech market for more than 20 years. Their portfolio includes all standard sorts of insurance for citizens, small  companies and large corporations. Both companies belong to the Austrian Vienna Insurance Group (VIG),  which has fifty companies in 25 countries worldwide. Besides Austria and the Czech Republic, VIG operates primarily in the countries of the Central and Eastern Europe Region.

To ensure smooth operations and reliable customer services, both Kooperativa and ČPP place special emphasis on a safe and functional shared IT environment which supports effective business in insurance. Great demands are placed on IT environments to protect the customer data that the insurance companies use, as well as their critical applications and systems.  The customer must continuously monitor current trends and optimize their own technological and computing environment.

The ALTRON Company provides professional services and consultations for the Kooperativa and ČPP insurance companies .  Part of the solution was to create a new and safe virtualized infrastructure, with customer systems being consolidated into this infrastructure. Developing this strategy and consultation also formed the fundamental basis for defining the development strategy of virtualization and disaster recovery plans.

About the Customer

In their more than 20 years on the Czech market, Kooperativa and ČPP have built a reputation as reliable and trustworthy companies with a wide range of services. Both insurance companies are repeatedly listed among the best companies in the Czech Republic, with Kooperativa ranking 3rd on the list of 100 best Czech companies in 2015. All standard sorts of insurance are provided by both companies throughout the whole customer spectrum – from citizens up to large corporations. By providing those services, both companies can rely on the experience and know-how of the whole Vienna Insurance Group. The company currently serves over 3 million customers with more than 5 million insurance contracts and together have over 5,000 employees.

Initial State

The initial state of customer's IT infrastructure showed weaknesses especially in the operation of heterogeneous platforms with virtualization servers involved in clusters, but also when functioning independently. Due to the absence of either central management of the virtualized environment or a standard conception, this condition had already started to create problems with both usability and performance capabilities and accessibility of services, increasing maintenance and the inability to accurately diagnose the reasons for failure. The customer IT Operations Department initiated a change. For ALTRON it was a new business relationship that was ultimately built on the basis of years of knowledge in the field of system integration, complex solution design of new virtualization platforms and technical consultations to ensure long-term maintenance and future development of the entire solution.

ALTRON Solution and Services

ALTRON ensured the creation of a new, stable and efficient infrastructure on a unified virtualization VMware platform, where selected internal customer systems were gradually consolidated on this newly created infrastructure. The actual implementation was preceded by a series of preparatory work related to the professional consultations, analyses and location surveys, which were the key basis for the defining the strategy and developing a target concept of virtualization and disaster recovery. Based on the concept prepared by ALTRON, it was necessary to ensure the construction of two independent environments in two different locations. Each environment is additionally physically divided into internal and "customer facing" part due to security reasons.

Existing storage sites were partly modified and later consolidated under a central storage controller spread over both locations. The EMC VPLEX Metro Cluster technology provides synchronous data replication between geographically divided locations. The establishment of the VMware Storage Metro Cluster was enabled by this step, which is spread over both locations. The EMC AVAMAR technology has been used for backing up this platform, which supports not only the virtual servers contents but whole virtual servers, but also ensures rapid recovery in the event of an accident or just the need to go back in time with the whole system..

Benefits and Advantages

Virtualization brings streamlined administration and comprehensive monitoring, while reducing operational costs and increasing the availability of services. Another benefit is the simplified creation of test environments for developing and testing new application versions, which, thanks to the deployment of virtualization to support small orchestration, enables rapid creation of copies of production servers by merely running a script. Thanks to the Metro Cluster conception, customers have a fully redundant environment with high accessibility at their disposal for their applications. This environment also enables an uninterruptible transfer of all virtual servers from one location to another, both for technology maintenance or in case of an expected danger such as looming floods. Another undisputable advantage rests in very fast start of all virtual servers at a backup location with zero data loss. The single virtualization platform also greatly benefits the related coherence of the wide VMware product portfolio which could be used for future development projects to ensure the next degree of flexibility of the whole solution (automation, orchestration). Finally, the necessary know-how has been attained by customer responsible specialists. The ALTRON Company at the moment focuses primarily on supporting technical consultations.. In the future we plan a service agreement as well to ensure full support.

“Reliable and safe operation of our technologies and IT systems is one of the key elements of our business. Cooperation with ALTRON gives us access to the necessary knowledge and experience of the IT environment to operate effectively. Professional IT services provided on the basis of long-term collaboration meets our expectations and needs,“  said Miloš Dyntar,  Operations and ICT Manager at Kooperativa.

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