WA Insurance Commission decommissions mainframe

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WA Insurance Commission decommissions mainframe

Modernised apps to remain in play for up to a decade.

The Insurance Commission of Western Australia (ICWA) expects to draw up to another decade of use from its COBOL applications after moving them from a mainframe to an x86 server running Linux.

The state-owned organisation migrated its applications off a z9 mainframe onto a single blade server on July 28, after a year-long modernisation effort.

Chief information officer Glenn Myers told the Gartner Symposium this week that ICWA aimed to improve disaster recovery and business capabilities, lower costs, and reduce its reliance on vendors.

The Commission took up a Micro Focus solution to migrate its 1400 COBOL applications to a Linux server, with an Eclipse-based development environment allowing staff to make any code changes in Java.

Prior to the modernisation project, ICWA ran a mixture of technologies, with core insurance platforms housed on the z9 mainframe and connected to other systems through ageing point-to-point integration tools.

Myers said ICWA had “exposed numerous services out of the COBOL code” during the migration process as the first step of a move to leverage a services-oriented architecture in other aspects of its environment.

“We’ll definitely leverage the [migrated] systems for up to ten years,” he told iTnews, noting that the business had done thorough end-to-end testing to ensure that its technology decisions were future-proof.

“We have a lot more documentation now as a result of having gone through the project, and we continue to develop that.”

Myers said the modernisation project had met ICWA’s key success criteria and expected to achieve return on investment within 12 months.

ICWA reduced its IT operational expenditure by about 10 percent and became less reliant on vendors because the business and its 43 IT staff better understood its systems, he said.

“We had limited resources available in WA in terms of supporting and maintaining that [mainframe] environment,” Myers noted.

The project also enables ICWA to stand up disaster recovery (DR) environments in about eight hours instead of 72, as it previously relied on leasing a mainframe partition from IBM for DR.

While ICWA joins the likes of the Singapore Exchange, Tabcorp and NASA in moving off the mainframe. The likes of Westpac, Allianz and Suncorp remain committed to the technology.

Myers described ICWA as a medium-sized organisation with 360 employees, whose “scale really didn’t warrant a mainframe”.

“The mainframe still has its place for organisations that fit the profile for the scale and processing capability associated with this infrastructure,” he said.

“I’m not on a crusade to kill the mainframe – this really is about having a fit-for-purpose solution for our organisation.”

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