Strategic decision SFBLI to move away from COBOL to .NET

February 5, 2019

Interview Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance (SFBLI) taken during the annual Asysco Technology Conference in New York, October 2018.

“We have been a mainframe shop for 35, 40 years now and several things were driving us to look at moving off the mainframe.
Then I received this email from this company called Asysco and it was from Shelby and I was interested in what they claimed they could do, that they could convert COBOL systems to a distributed environment. So that piqued my interest, I emailed her back and that started the conversation. I was not really sure if they could really do what they said they could do but after several meetings with them we came to the conclusion that they could help us to move off the mainframe.”

“We had a couple of phone calls and then we had an onsite visit with Shelby and with Romke and we got our team that has been supporting our mainframe application, it is called Ingenium, they are experts in it and they have been running it for 20 years now and after talking to Romke and questioning him we realized that Asysco had the technical expertise and technical products to do this for us.”

“We are just starting the project, I think the enthusiasm of the Asysco team has been surprising. The technical folks are really wanting to get this kicked off. A couple of weeks before the official start date of the project we have already sent our source code and our data over to Asysco to start the conversion process. We have been really pleased with how fast that’s been taking place and with the enthusiasm of the staff to really get this going.”

“This to us means that we have a partner that wants this to be a success, that is involved and is willing to work closely with us. I think also Asysco is seeing that we have good staff on-site and that our employees know the environment very well. I think they are excited to see that, so I guess it kind of feeds off one another. So, we are excited to work with Asysco and get this going.”

“I have been impressed with their vision, where Asysco is going with their process and their procedures and how they’re looking to do things further in the Cloud. I know there are Cloud options now, we’re not yet sure we want to go that route, but I know we are putting things in place with this migration into the Asysco environment that will help us to move up into the Cloud if we decide that’s where we want to go. So, I am excited about that.”

“I think companies do need to take a hard look at what they are spending on the mainframe. We realized that the mainframe was expensive, very costly for us. But we determined that we just had to run the environment. Until we started digging deeper into it, looking at the cost that was there. We had actually done engagement with our mainframe vendor on what it would cost to move off the mainframe. And it was an extraordinary high number and I felt like that we could do this less expensive and we proved that that is the case with the Asysco engagement.”

“We looked at several things and I think that other companies should do the same thing. We’ve got an issue with recruiting young staff willing to work on the mainframe and we’ve got retirements coming up in the next 3 or 4 years that is going to affect our staff and our mainframe support. We are kind of  at a crossroads where we felt we needed to go ahead and make the decision.”

That’s another thing that other companies need to think about. Especially companies that are not huge but a mid-tier company that does run a mainframe. They need to look at what their upcoming retirements are going to do. We realized that within the next 5 years all the expertise we have on our mainframe is going to be retired. That will make it much more difficult to move off the mainframe. It is not impossible, but it will be more difficult and more expensive. So, I think companies should not get to what I call the tipping point and wait too long to move off the mainframe.”

Charlie Allen, Vice President Information Systems of Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance Company

Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance Company was established in 1946 to address the specific needs of the membership relating to life insurance and financial planning. Today from its home office in Jackson, Mississippi, SFBLI supports the agency forces in cities and towns in states all over the South. Their primary goal continues to be not merely to sell insurance, but to provide service, value, protection, and advice to each Farm Bureau member they serve through highly qualified professionals.