Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance, found the right partner in Asysco, for their IBM mainframe, Ingenium migration

November 17, 2020

“I think companies should not get to what I call the ‘tipping point’ and wait too long to move off the mainframe.”
Charlie Allen, VP, Chief Technology Officer at Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance.

Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance Company (SFBLI) was established in 1946 to address its members’ specific needs relating to life insurance and financial planning. Today their organization has branched into cities and towns all over the South.

In late 2016 SFBLI began discussions with Asysco regarding an automated migration to enhance the current effort to get off the IBM mainframe. The following spring, we had the opportunity to meet with Charlie Allen VP, Chief Technology Officer at Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance in Jackson, Mississippi, to learn about his organization’s critical needs.

SBFLI, a mainframe shop for 50 years, having purchased their first IBM Mainframe System (360) back in 1964. They had multiple driving factors that provoked Charlie to consider moving off the legacy environment. Foremost they realized that the mainframe was extremely expensive to maintain while there was an additional need for staffing support.

With the department’s goal to provide services and support to all departments throughout the company while working to reduce company expenses, improve services to its agents and insureds, and become more flexible in adapting to changing business requirements in mind; on August 21st, 2017, the Asysco Site Survey took place. This inventory report determined the system’s details to migrate and the best target solution for the future of SFBLI’s IT environment.

The analysis determined that SFBLI’s Ingenium application largely consisted of IBM COBOL, JCL, and Easytrieve using a DB2 database and CICS TP monitor.

The Ingenium application supports SFBLI’s core business; therefore, it is a critical application requiring high performance and availability. The current COBOL programming and support team consists of 25 individuals, many of whom were familiar with .NET. The mainframe ran and was supported at SFBLI’s datacenter, located in the same building as the corporate offices.

The investigation and evaluation results for the possible migration project yielded Asysco the confidence in our ability to migrate the Ingenium application to the .NET platform. And for SFBLI, engaging in this plan meant that it was crucial to have a partner with a deep level of involvement and willingness to work closely with the SFBLI team, and most importantly, one dedicated to the project’s success.

The Migration

The transition to C#.NET reduced risk to the future support necessary for the Ingenium application and the infrastructure it ran on. There are currently 4500 unique application users (450 home office based and 4000 agents accessing remotely) averaging 2500 users per day, completing 1 million transactions per day at peak load. The mainframe’s peak usage was 1,243 MIPS, with one logical partition for PROD and QA/TEST. After examining the system details, Asysco determined that we could guarantee that the migrated application could maintain the same, if not better, performance in an open systems environment. The recommended configurations in the report were tailored to meet SFBLI’s performance needs, and upon contract approval in May of 2018, Asysco began SFBLI’s IBM mainframe migration project with a Kick-Off in November 2018.

Go-Live

Thursday, October 29th, the go-live event began with the conversion of the large historical tables. On Friday night, the end-of-month batch was executed on the mainframe, and in the early hours of Saturday morning, our team was ready to start the DataPump for the remaining production data. Once finished, the data integrity and verification work commenced. This was to provide the Actuarial team with a significant set of reports and took 6 hours to produce. We all know how important numbers are where insurance companies are concerned. While the data was being validated, the IT teams began the interface switch over. We got Actuary to sign off and called it a night. At 2:00 am on Sunday (waiting for the end of the daylight savings clock changes), we started running the first EOD batch on AMT Production. There was a larger than expected number of policies to process and discovered our first real issue when we tried to process a 14GB input file. After analysis, we found that the file was corrupt and had not been FTP’d from the mainframe correctly. We received a new file that worked as expected; however, extra policy processing and the corrupt file did delay our schedule by nearly 3 hours. Upon completing the batch, the actuarial team conducted some further data validation, everything checked out 100%. Users started their testing, which wrapped up around lunchtime on Sunday and the final GO decision was made by Executive Management and the Business Owners.

Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance has a skilled and experienced technical team that has been invaluable to this endeavor. Couple that with our Asysco team’s commitment, and we were always set-up for a positive outcome. We would have preferred to be side-by-side with the SFBLI Project Team, but sadly, it was impossible. Our second remote Go-Live has reaffirmed Asysco’s ability to adapt and successfully deliver, even in these challenging times.

In case you are considering to move off your mainframe, take the advice of Charlie Allen, avoid getting to the “tipping point”, don’t wait, contact us, we are the right partner to help you migrate!