The power is in the plan
"We recognized the need to act quickly, but we wanted to make sure we were causing no disruption to business operations in the process," Thomas explains. "For that reason, we couldn't settle for a simple 'lift and shift' solution – upgrading in place and figuring out how to make changes in the new environment later. Instead, we looked carefully at our challenges and pursued a migration solution that was not just the most viable, but also aligned strongly with our future roadmap and objectives."
To better understand the issues that were occurring, Global Atlantic's project plan started with drilling down into the processes the IBM Z10 mainframe supports. From there, Thomas worked to quantify why the problems were an issue and how they created an impact, from time to market and productivity to finances and the company's brand image.
"Understanding the problem statements up front not only helped us create requirements; it helped us determine how to measure what our success would look like," he says.
Given the complexity and time involved in migrating applications, relocating equipment, bringing it live and supporting it over the long term, Thomas chose to outsource. After sending an RFP to a dozen vendors, he short-listed the group down to three. Sungard AS already provided a disaster recovery (DR) site and services program to other parts of Global Atlantic and emerged as the top choice.
"Sungard AS provided the most viable solution that solved for all of our problem areas and aligned best with our overall strategy," he says. "They successfully captured our problem statement and developed a solution that showcased our environment and what the roadmap looked like to transform it into the solution we needed."
He says the solution covers nearly all of the targeted virtual machines and physical servers, "but we do still have the earlier DR solution protecting a small number of legacy systems that were not compatible with the cloud-based DR. That's no fault of Sungard AS. Eventually we'll migrate those clusters of servers over to virtual machines and include them in the cloud recovery."
The company also looks to Sungard AS for Workplace Recovery Services. The longstanding contract covers dedicated office space, connectivity, and equipment for 25 employees should the company headquarters offices be unavailable due to an incident. "It's a small number of seats at a nearby Sungard AS recovery center," he says. "It will support key personnel that are critical to our business continuity."
Sungard AS teamed with its hybrid IT services partner Ensono on the project to build out a new production environment in an Ensono data center. Key milestones included consolidating and migrating the Ingenium insurance application onto Global Atlantic's mainframe, along with a major operating system upgrade and many application upgrades. All this work took place over just seven months.
"It was a colossal effort, involving a lot of moving parts that required support from a wide range of different resources," Thomas says. "Although we worked within a very complex environment, where timing and sequence would determine the success or failure of our migration, we completed these tremendously difficult activities on time or ahead of schedule, and we did it without causing any disruptions or downtime for the business."