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Posted: 7/26/2011
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Protective Life Corporation Life Insurer Spurs Innovation and Saves $600,000 in IT Costs with BI Solution

A Protective Life Corporation subsidiary used a Teradata database system that was expensive to maintain and could not easily integrate with the parent company’s existing business intelligence (BI) solution. By replacing its old solution with Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2, Protective Life achieved stronger support for product innovation, improved its business processes, sped processing by 15 percent, and saved U.S.$600,000 in maintenance costs over the first two years.

Business Needs

Protective Life Corporation is a holding company whose subsidiaries offer investment products and life and specialty insurance. The company relies on Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 data management software for mission-critical systems such as policy underwriting, claims processing, and commission payments to its agents. Protective Life also uses a business-critical data warehousing and business intelligence solution based on SQL Server 2008 R2 and Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010. The solution extracts data from about 30 disparate systems at the company’s subsidiaries.

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* Because we moved onto the Microsoft platform, users can perform their own analyses to evaluate how potential new products will perform. That capability is a real innovation for us.  *

Mark Underwood
Second Vice President
Protective Life Corporation

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In 2006, Protective Life acquired the Chase Insurance Group from JPMorgan Chase & Co. The Chase Insurance Group was using a Teradata solution to warehouse its administration and finance data. In 2008, Protective Life began considering the Chase Insurance Group Teradata solution for possible elimination.

“We were not using Teradata to its full capacity, but it was costing us about $300,000 per year in support, maintenance, and licensing expenses,” says Mark Underwood, a Second Vice President at Protective Life. Also, the Teradata solution was not integrated with the company’s existing Microsoft BI solution, hampering analysis. “To access information from Teradata, users had to request an IT project and then wait for that project to go through quality assurance and acceptance processes.”

Protective Life wanted to eliminate the Teradata solution and provide business users with access to the Chase Insurance Group data through the company’s existing Microsoft BI solution.

Solution

The project to eliminate the Teradata system was part of an ongoing plan at Protective Life to consolidate as much of its IT environment as possible onto the Microsoft platform. “In addition to providing the basis for a very robust enterprise architecture right now, Microsoft technology also supports the most compelling vision for where Protective Life wants to go over the next five to seven years,” says Underwood.

The project, which began in mid-2009, included a six-month phase of migrating the Teradata processes and data-source connections to Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Enterprise. After parallel testing by Protective Life business users, the Chase Insurance Group data went live with the Protective Life BI solution in March 2010. That solution, which was upgraded to Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 in January 2011, also includes SQL Server 2008 R2 Analysis Services, Integration Services, and Reporting Services and runs on HP ProLiant DL580 G7 and BL460C G1 server computers.

Protective Life business users can now access reports and perform analysis on Chase Insurance Group data by using the Microsoft BI tools they were already using to work with data from the rest of the company’s holdings. Employees can view or modify existing reports on a Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 portal, or they can create reports by using Report Builder 3.0, which includes libraries of report components that can be manipulated in a familiar Microsoft environment.

Users can also perform self-service analysis by using Microsoft Office Excel 2007 spreadsheet software. After Protective Life upgrades to Microsoft Office 2010 in late 2011, employees will have access to Microsoft SQL Server PowerPivot for Microsoft Excel 2010, which they can use to analyze hundreds of millions of rows of data on their desktops.

Underwood says that, although the migration process presented some challenges, it was still highly worthwhile. “The biggest effort involved moving the mainframe transformation processes to SQL Server Integration Services,” he explains. “But the project was very successful and provided us with immediate, measurable benefits.”

Benefits

Consolidating onto the Microsoft platform helped Protective Life become more innovative and improve its business processes. The new solution also saved the company more than U.S.$600,000 in administrative, maintenance, and licensing costs, improved processing speeds, and helped the IT department further strengthen its ability to strategically support the business needs of the firm.

Spurs Innovation

With the solution’s intuitive, integrated BI tools, users can prototype new products more easily and independently. “Before we deployed the new solution, business users did not have strong tools for predicting the performance of new insurance or investment offerings,” says Underwood. “Because we moved to the Microsoft platform, users can perform their own analyses to evaluate how potential new products will perform. That capability is a real innovation for us, and it’s turning the heads of our competitors.”

Improves Data Stewardship

The new solution greatly strengthened business users’ views of the company’s finances and operations. “By consolidating onto SQL Server 2008 R2, we united two disparate data warehousing solutions and achieved a more integrated, enterprisewide view of our business,” says Underwood. “The Microsoft platform also helps the IT department streamline the acquisition, management, and delivery of data and eases the research and development of new capabilities.”

Saves $600,000 in Administrative and Maintenance Costs

By consolidating its data warehouses onto the Microsoft platform, Protective Life is taking better advantage of resources and cutting expenses. “By migrating data from Teradata to our existing Microsoft platform, we increased processing speeds by about 15 percent and reduced IT administrative and maintenance costs by more than $600,000 over the first two years,” says Underwood.

According to Underwood, the project has also transformed the role of the Protective Life IT department. “As a result of consolidating onto the Microsoft platform, it’s easier for the IT department to partner with the business side strategically instead of just reacting to the needs of users.”

This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.
Solution Overview



Organization Size: 4500 employees

Organization Profile

The Protective Life Corporation offers insurance and investment products throughout the United States and Canada. Founded in 1907, the company is headquartered in Alabama.


Hardware

  • HP ProLiant DL580 G7 and BL460C G1 server computers


Software and Services
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Enterprise
  • Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010
  • Microsoft Office Standard 2010
  • Microsoft Office Excel 2007
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Analysis Services
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Integration Services
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Reporting Services
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 PowerPivot for Microsoft Excel 2010

Vertical Industries
Insurance

Country/Region
United States

Business Need
  • Business Intelligence and Reporting
  • Business Critical
  • Mission Critical
  • Data Management

IT Issue
Data Warehousing

Languages
English

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