LV Insurance - Exadata and ZFS Storage
Liverpool Victoria (LV) is one of the UK’s largest insurance companies, with over 5 million customers. The business was, until the end of 2019, a “Friendly Society” and provided a range of insurance and retirement products.
Oracle Technology underpins both customer-facing and internal applications across life, pensions and insurance products, and the infrastructure that underpins these environments has been a combination of Exadata and VMware generic infrastructure.
LV had developed technical and commercial engagement models with Oracle directly, as well as via the Oracle Partner Network. For many years, the perception was that this model had served the business well and was set to be continued.
At the end of 2018, Explorer and LV began discussing the state of the Oracle estate and the challenges the business had faced. LV was considering investing in additional database storage for local backups and to relieve capacity issues on the production of Exadata appliances. This project allowed DSP-Explorer to demonstrate expertise thought leadership and commercial value to LV that would lead to a significant business and IT transformation project in 2019 and 2020.
LV invested in Exadata to improve database and application performance, specifically the end-user experience of customers processing insurance quotes and renewals. Exadata adoption within LV had proved to be a success and had been good value; however as is the case with many Exadata investments, there had been little continual optimisation of the storage as capacity decreased.
DSP-Explorer recommended an overhaul of the storage configuration, based on the mixed configurations of Exadata storage cells across production and standby environments. The configuration at the time was a “patchwork quilt” and was not optimised to take full advantage of the available disk capacity. At the same time, RMAN backups were held locally and this was recognised as a waste of local disk space and resources.
DSP-Explorer recommended ZFS Storage as a dedicated appliance for RMAN backups and challenged the design and configuration implemented by the previous Oracle partner. The result was a streamlined storage configuration and more headroom for growth over the next 12-18 months. LV valued the thought leadership demonstrated by DSP-Explorer, and our ability to take the project from concept to reality with efficiency and expertise.
License Optimisation and Separation
In 2019, LV announced that the “Friendly Society” was to be separated into distinct entities; Liverpool Victoria Financial Services (LV FS) were to retain the life and pensions business, whilst Allianz were to acquire the insurance business under the umbrella of Liverpool Victoria General Insurance Group (LV GIG).
LV saw value in using DSP-Explorer to front and manage all commercial negotiations with Oracle based on the success of the previous engagement, which focused on storage optimisation. Explorer assessed the current Oracle licensing and contracts in place and led dialogue directly with Oracle on behalf of LV to negotiate and transact a separation contract.
The result was a flexible contract which allowed LVFS to re-deploy Oracle technology on new appropriately sized infrastructure. The chosen infrastructure was Oracle Private Cloud Appliance (PCA), which enabled the business to;
Modernise ageing infrastructure
Benefit from Oracle trusted partitions and OVM to reduce Oracle license costs
Improve performance and availability
Transition towards public cloud services when the time is right
Reduce the overall cost of support for Oracle software and 3rd party hardware
LVFS and LVGIG recognised the value that Explorer brought to the separation project; specifically, how DSP-Explorer was able to negotiate a contract that focused on more than just a discount.
“DSP-Explorer led all the negotiations with Oracle because we trusted their approach and had pre-agreed all the elements that were important to the separation committee. There is more to a good deal than just a good discount and it is this principle that we focused on, rather than engaging multiple Oracle sales representatives to juggle their individual agendas and timescales.”
Following the separation of LVFS and LVGIG it was clear that the lifespan of the Exadata would be challenged based on the growth aspirations of LVGIG (Allianz).
At the start of 2020 Exadata celebrated 10 years since the first version was released. This anniversary was marked by making a wholesale change to the underlying components and to adopt more performant networking and memory capabilities. The Exadata X8M was a marked shift in capacity and performance, set to allow LVGIG (Allianz) to achieve their growth aspirations and avoid bottlenecks as more data is added.
LVGIG (Allianz) invested in Exadata X8M via DSP-Explorer following a thorough business case that demonstrated lower TCO, simplified the supportability of the platform and drastically improved end-user performance. DSP-Explorer led all the technical design, commercial negotiation, implementation, migration services and, now, managed services.
“DSP-Explorer has proven to be a safe pair of hands and we value the way they challenge us and proactively drive best practice and optimisation to maintain the performance, availability and scalability of Exadata and ZFS. Their professional services team are diligent, experienced and well organised and the project management team continually impress us with their levels of communication and governance. Simply put, we get an enhanced service from DSP-Explorer than we did by engaging Oracle ACS directly.” Mark Harris – Head of Change LVGIG/Allianz UK.
Managed Services & Technical Consultancy
DSP-Explorer has provided multiple discrete engagements of professional services as well as on-going managed services. From short, focused projects to long-term and over-arching support, LV have invested in DSP-Explorer’s expertise in 3 core areas:
Exadata Managed Services
Software Asset Management Services
DSP-Explorer now provides Software Asset Management (SAM) services to LV GIG to ensure the business has dedicated resources to address any and all Oracle related procurement and/or contract management questions.
“Allianz Technology Services UK use the services of DSP-Explorer to complement in-house sourcing and SAM personnel to increase our knowledge of Oracle licensing rules, as well as to mitigate against non-compliance risks relating to Oracle. They’re easy to work with, their services are comprehensive and we derive good value from the relationship.”
“Oracle Platinum Support is a free service that helps us keep up to date with the latest Oracle patches, but the reality is that the process needs a significant amount of internal planning and triaging of procedures, and is often a rushed and forced interaction. We, therefore, took the decision to outsource this to DSP-Explorer and for them to take more ownership of monitoring, capacity planning, performance optimisation and SR management. This has proven to simplify the process of patching and we have more confidence in the supportability of Exadata and ZFS as a result.”
DSP-Explorer dramatically reduced the total cost of ownership for Oracle within LVFS and LVGIG, whilst enabling the business to modernise their underlying infrastructure and simplify support. These are the three key principles that we look to provide our customers in order to enable them to capitalise on ever-changing market opportunities and/or challenges.
By pivoting away from a persona of being an Oracle reseller to a professional buyer of Oracle on behalf of our customers, DSP-Explorer has demonstrated unique expertise, thought leadership and proficient execution.
Liverpool Victoria (LV) is one of the UK’s largest insurance companies, with over 5 million customers. The business was, until the end of 2019, a “Friendly Society” and provided a range of insurance and retirement products. Oracle Technology underpins both customer-facing and internal applications across life, pensions and insurance products, and the infrastructure that underpins these environments has been a combination of Exadata and VMware generic infrastructure.