AIG Edison Life Insurance Company, a Japanese insurer, wanted to accelerate the processing time of the financial simulations that it ran using Milliman MG-ALFA software. The company adopted the Windows HPC Server 2008 operating system and found it very intuitive for actuaries and system administrators to use. Thanks to the new system, AIG Edison Life has reduced computing time by about one-third and also appreciably cut its operating costs.
AIG Edison Life Insurance Company, an affiliate of the American International Group (AIG), provides life insurance services to policyholders throughout Japan. The company takes advantage of the industry expertise and product development strength of AIG to provide policyholders with the insurance offerings that they need.
Like many insurance companies, AIG Edison Life runs complex actuarial models to evaluate risk, predict future profitability, and perform other financial projections. “Our actuaries use MG-ALFA software models from Milliman to identify certain management indicators and determine the health of the business,” explains Mr. Naoki Matsuda, Actual Analyst, Actuary Department for AIG Edison Life.
||We have the right solution in place with the Windows HPC Server 2008 cluster. The learning curve was minimal, our actuaries now can fine-tune their simulations … and the system management is easy.
||Mr. Isao Ito
IT Manager, System Infrastructure Operation Department, AIG Edison Life Insurance Company
AIG Edison Life relied on a DataSynapse server computer running the Windows Server 2003 operating system to conduct its MG-ALFA financial simulations. That server, located in the United States, was owned by another company within AIG. When that company was divested, AIG Edison Life faced an issue: It still needed to conduct large-scale simulations, but its computing resource would no longer be available. “We needed our own system for running MG-ALFA,” says Matsuda. “And that new system had to be easy for our actuaries and administrators to use.”
In looking for a high-performance computing (HPC) system, AIG Edison Life also wanted one that offered increased performance when processing simulations. Average simulation run times using the DataSynapse server took up to 13 hours, which meant that, even when actuaries submitted jobs at the end of the work day, they still had to wait for those jobs to finish running when they returned to work in the morning. “Establishing faster processing speeds was imperative because we anticipate a potentially substantial rise in the amount of simulation work that we will need to do in the future to accommodate upcoming changes in Japan’s regulatory requirements,” says Matsuda.Solution
The company worked with ITOCHU Techno-Solutions Corporation, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, to deploy 16 compute nodes and a head node, which also handles computational work. AIG Edison Life overcame an issue with its Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) configuration and now expects that adding nodes will be easy in the future because of what it learned during the initial deployment. The company used HPC Cluster Manager to aid in the deployment and continues to use the tool for daily management of the system.
As of June 2010, actuaries at AIG Edison Life are already relying heavily on the cluster for their financial simulation work, and the company expects an upsurge in its number of HPC users as the national actuarial rules change. “Not only will our current amount of HPC work expand soon, but also the number of situations in which we’ll need distributed calculations is likely to increase tremendously,” says Ito.Benefits
Introducing Windows HPC Server 2008 has made it possible for actuaries at AIG Edison Life to be more accurate in their financial predictions and for the company to conserve costs through lower operational expenses. “We have the right solution in place with the Windows HPC Server 2008 cluster,” says Ito. “The learning curve was minimal, our actuaries now can fine-tune their simulations for better results, and the system management is easy for administrators.” Benefits of using the cluster include:
Faster processing speeds. Simulations that used to take up to 13 hours now take just 8 hours, which means that actuaries have more time to verify results for greater accuracy. “Using the cluster also helps me be more productive,” says Matsuda. “For one thing, now I can obtain results and begin working right away in the morning, rather than waiting for jobs to complete.”
Intuitive use. AIG Edison Life actuaries were able to start running their models on the cluster right away because of its intuitive interface and familiarity. “Our users experienced a smooth transition to Windows HPC Server 2008, in large part because they are accustomed to working in a Windows Server–based environment,” says Ito.
Easy management. The company has found the cluster easy to manage using built-in tools, with no special expertise required to maintain it. “Routine tasks such as applying software updates and backing up data are very convenient,” says Ito. “We have a manual, but we haven’t needed it because management is so straightforward.”
Adds Mr. Toshio Aihara, System Administrator for AIG Edison Life, “When we started our deployment, I had no prior exposure to Windows HPC Server 2008, but I’ve been able to try out many different scenarios to determine the best ways to reduce processing time and increase accuracy. Just from an educational standpoint, I’ve had an extremely positive experience using the new system.”
Lower total cost of ownership. AIG Edison Life has reduced its operational costs with its adoption of Windows HPC Server 2008. “We know that the total cost of our cluster is lower than our previous DataSynapse solution, which required high annual support costs,” says Ito. “We appreciate that Windows HPC Server 2008 is a more cost-effective solution for us.”
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