General Background

ovalscissorsInternet and Web Development

Jul 30, 2012 (5 years and 8 months ago)


General Background

UK Life Company result of multiple mergers late 90’s

Commercial Union

General Accident

Provident Mutual

Norwich Union

This drove a significant legacy estate

500 + systems required to support business

Business function often replic
ated across multiple systems

eg 4 Commission
management systems

Over 25% of UK Life total expense attributed to cost of operating IT and delivering
change (against industry benchmark of 15%


Winchester White)

The cost of Business Change and IT o
perations increasing due to

Overly complex architecture and point
point integration

Multiple, proprietary development languages

Support and performance issues for several key applications

Complex and ageing applications

Each solution is a hand

end development. Lack of
functional re
use means each new channel or product we develop is as or
more complex than the last.

Increasing (organic) complexity created longer lead times for analysis,
development and testing

Support / maintenance cos
ts increase to due to divergence and

The underpinning technical infrastructure also drove additional cost

Technology diversity and complexity

Funding model led to tactical solutions

Several single points of failure

Lack of transparency of c

The available spend was being consumed increasingly by mandatory / regulatory
change and maintenance leaving little budget for business transformation

Specifically with eCommerce

in 2005

eCommerce depended upon the legacy systems with their issu
es described above

Pragmatism had driven the consolidation of all eCommerce front ends to a single
platform based upon Microsoft technology

Windows 2000 / 2003 Server


Applications built in MS VBScript


Norwich Union was (still is) a number
of years behind competitors

Lack of basic self service for both Policyholder and Distributor, for example

Limited ability to value products

Basic new business tracking for advisors

No online tools to support customers in their financial planning

ant online ‘proposition gaps’

eg no Customer Portal

Poor and variable service coverage (hours of service)

Costs for delivering a ‘revamped’ eCommerce capability were prohibitive with the
existing platforms.

The Opportunity

From 2006 thru 2008 saw a s
ignificant investment in IT simplification

Rationalisation of back office systems

eg migration of all IPP to single
platform (Unisure)

Outsourcing of administration of millions of ‘legacy’ policies to Admin Re

Resulting in the rationalisation and close
down of hundreds of back office / contract
administration systems

This leaves a somewhat simplified estate

but the underlying problems remained

driving increased development and maintenance costs

The targeted simplified estate created an opportunity
to address these concerns. We
didn’t want to organically build more complexity again

having just spent millions
removing some it

Fixing the front end

In 2006 we targeted the front end development

specifically we wanted to increase
productivity and re
duce time to market through simplification and reuse

Selected WebSphere Application Server over .Net Server

close call but


existing ESSO agreement with IBM


WebSphere was gaining momentum in other parts of group

Considered building our own development
framework but IBM introduced us to
Bowstreet (Portlet Factory) which promised to give us significant productivity
benefits (c30%)

Increased reuse

both out of the box and custom built builders


Configuration rather than coding

in technical skill requirements

Services Oriented Architecture Approach

We initiated the Group wide Pioneer programme with the aim of delivering a new
innovative products using new and innovative delivery methods and technology. This
was executed in a ‘
test and learn’ approach

This was an opportunity to extend the WebSphere front end with a

Service Oriented Architecture and

Single, customer oriented view of customer holdings

To this end we chose to integrate the new WAS / Portlet Factory based front e
nd with

WebSphere Process Server

WebSphere Enterprise Service Bus

WebSphere Customer Centre

This allows us, over time, to

Address the complexity and costs of point to point integration

Drive standardisation and reuse

Increase speed to market by buildin
g applications from existing components

Reduce cost of maintenance

We have subsequently used the architecture and infrastructure delivered by Pioneer
on 7 further, significant, business applications including:

Online Income Drawdown proposition

ed end to end in record time

A significant online Corporate Pensions capability that includes an innovative
use of technology to create an engaging customer experience

A single, consolidated view of customers policies availabl
e to advisors online
and to internal customer facing staff

A policyholder website to support the reattribution of the Inherited Estate

The Corporate Benefits programme has further extended the WebSphere
architecture to include

WebSphere Portal Server

bSphere Workplace Content Manager


Reduced cost of development

30% design and build productivity in the front end realised (vs VB6 )

Reuse of enterprise services lowers development, test and maintenance

early days but


67 Services in produ
ction a further 61 in development


125 instances of enterprise service reuse

Reuse of portlets across multiple deliveries

Delegation of content management to lower cost non IT resource

Portal Server allows clear separation of look and feel from functionalit
y which
has significantly reduced the cost of impending Aviva rebrand

Other less tangible benefits include

Improved employee satisfaction and morale through use of latest technology

Lower service risk as platform has been built with redundancy

Its not
been pain free?

We have faced significant hurdles

Immaturity of some of the products


Large numbers of PMRs raised along the way

WPS especially


Extended resolution times

11 months for one PMR


Interoperability of IBM products often complex

Upgrade pa
ths for some WebSphere products complex with many product
interdependencies (eg WPS 6.01 to 6.1)


We have had to forgo some functional capabilities of later versions


Support issues with IBM

“you need to upgrade”


Culminating in the need for a large (costly
) project to deliver upgrades to
latest supported versions

We assumed that buying IBM front to back would ensure easier integration but


Little end to end support from IBM

even when pushed hard


Lack of consistency from IBM about problem resolution, produ
ct roadmaps


No experts in our configuration

we had to ‘knit together’ IBM product
expertise ourselves


One part of IBM would ‘sign off’ designs for another part of IBM to criticise the
design at a later stage when problems surfaced


Difficult to engage

with IBM and find someone who would ‘own’ our issues
this was at a technical and relationship level

We have had difficulty building stable and consistent environments due to the
complexity and almost continuous changes to apply.

We significantly underes
timated the effort required to tune all aspects of the platform
to work efficiently

We still have not managed to usefully deploy some of the supporting tools for
example Business Monitor and Business Modeller due to technical constraints

These issues were

constant and intrusive and more than once resulted in the entire
platform being questioned by Senior Executives.

However the WebSphere platform continues to be a strategic platform for
developing and deploying eCommerce applications:

We are building a
significant Advisor Portal

ground up

with support from Open

We have just started developing a Customer Portal for individual policyholders which
we expect to initially support 45k new registrations and 290k customer transactions a

Over th
e next 12
24 months we will


further extend the number of enterprise services available for reuse


Invest significantly in the infrastructure


Latest supported versions of product set


Standardised and consistent environments


Scalable in line with our eCommer
ce ambitions


new eCommerce propositions on the WebSphere product set