Dealing with the unexpected, TOGETHER

March 25, 2020

Over the past couple of weeks, pretty much the entire world has had to change its way of working due to complete lock downs, social distancing or any other measure in place to deal with the spreading of SARS-CoV-2 (leading to COVID-19).

Healthcare systems in many countries got completely overloaded dealing with the deluge of severe cases causing most other countries to restrict direct social contact as much as possible. The stress on the healthcare workers must be unimaginable.

That then quickly turned, what used to be done in a face to face manner, into remote and on-line leading to a tremendous increase in demand for video conferencing solutions such as Microsoft Teams. Much to our surprise, the service loss during the ramp up was actually quite minimal and restored to workable/normal literally in a matter of a day or so. For me, this really exemplifies the power of the cloud in terms of potential and resilience as well as the opportunity for dealing with disasters like this. For the second time in a short timeframe (first hurricane Sandy, now this), we see how a cloud centric approach allows us to deal with the unexpected in a way that was not possible otherwise.

Like most other companies, we also communicated our direct measures and impact to our customer base as per our CEO’s letter.

Whilst we cannot contribute a lot about solving the underlying medical challenges (we are a legacy migration company after all), maybe we can make a small contribution in people’s ability to deal with IT related consequences by sharing our practical experiences in how we adapt and adopt. Talking to one of our customers yesterday, it became clear they were facing some major challenges is switching to a remote model. That really triggered me to go write this blog.

Probably not unlike some of you, our business is very internationally oriented where we used to engage in a lot of face to face meetings for our global project deliveries. Given complete travel lockdowns, we have completely shifted our MO to everything remote/on-line in a matter of days. This transition is still ongoing and has a bunch of direct consequences which we like to share and discuss with you in the hope that, what we (continue to) learn from this, in some shape or form will be of benefit to you in keeping your business running and minimizing the economic impact of what’s going on. Also, we are looking to get some of our current customers to share their experiences as well through the same blog. Obviously, they will look at this from an entirely different perspective so they can probably share some useful experiences as well.

Over the course of the next couple of weeks, starting today, we will share practical experiences from our Chief Project Officer, Rob Lawrence, addressing his experiences with ongoing projects, our global head of services, Andrew Jackson, addressing both pre-project engagements as well as post-project support and some of our ongoing projects worldwide.

Our intention is really to share practical stuff: what have we done, what works, what did not, what are the practical implications in terms of efficiency and effectiveness and particularly some of the human factors in dealing with this change. At the same time, I hope that our sharing of experiences triggers others to start sharing best practices (good and bad) as well in order to help one another deal with everything as constructive as humanly possible.

Finally, let me also voice our massive appreciation of our health workers, people involved in the day to day operations of our food supply and other basic needs, people involved in keeping us safe and anyone else dealing with this first-hand. If it wasn’t for you, our work would be moot. We are all in this together. From our perspective, we hope to make our small contribution and see how and where we can help you transition based on our experiences. In return, we would love your input as well to collectively improve our overall experience.

Stay safe.

Herman Eggink

Read the next posts on shared experiences:

Dealing with the unexpected, TOGETHER, a project delivery perspective

Dealing with the unexpected, TOGETHER, a Life Insurance CTO’s perspective

Part II: Dealing with the unexpected, TOGETHER, a project delivery perspective

Disruption in insurance: not a matter of ‘if’ but a matter of ‘when’

January 29, 2018

In an interview on the digital insurance agenda, AXA Chief Marketing Officer and Chief Digital Officer Amelie Oudea Castera talks about the challenges of delivering the Digital Insurance Agenda, the disruption of insurance, and the challenges & success factors of teaming up with Insurtechs.
As a former world champion, Castrera compares the insurance business with a tennis match: “On top of technical skills, insurance requires attention to every detail, a mix of action and anticipation, a capacity to work over the long-term and a lot of technical expertise!”

According to Castrera it is not a matter of ‘if’ there will be a disruption in the insurance industry but a matter of ‘when’. Teaming up with Insurtechs is essential in order to keep up. In her opinion, the greatest challenge for incumbent insurance companies in this cooperation is the cultural gap between the startups and large corporate worlds, including for example the difference in speed of decision-making or the discrepancies in terms of focus (growth vs. profitability).

What we, as legacy transformation experts, find is that legacy environments are often a huge bottleneck that negatively influences exactly those areas. When IT organizations focus on keeping business-critical legacy systems running, valuable resources and huge budgets are taken away from innovation, integration and cooperation.

The moment they decide to get off the mainframe and migrate their legacy applications there is a clear shift in focus which opens the door to innovation. A great example of this is VIVAT, this large insurer encompasses multiple insurance brands (e.g. Reaal Dier & Zorg, Zwitserleven, Reaal, Route-Mobiel and Zelf) and a sustainable asset manager (ACTIAM).

Over the past decades, VIVAT had developed its core insurance systems using the Unisys EAE/LINC programming language running on Unisys Libra 690 mainframes. They found that this environment burdened them with high costs and limited flexibility. After they migrated 15 different applications, of which 8 business-critical, they not only achieved an immediate reduction of 70% on infrastructure and operational cost but there are also new functionalities available that help them realize their growth and innovation ambitions.

Read more here:

The best of both worlds

August 4, 2017

Cobol has been declared dead numerous times over the last decade but is still alive and kicking. Something that cannot be said about the Cobol workforce. Every day, about 10.000 baby boomers are retiring including quite some Cobol programmers. A recent survey conducted on behalf of IBM shows that retirement is the biggest worry in the mainframe world. It is estimated that nearly 20 percent of the programmers are expected to retire within 5 years from now.

Companies still depending on mainframe or legacy systems are concerned about their business continuity and are seeking for ways to outsource their mainframe maintenance. Technology outsourcing firms like Ensono have started to recruit graduate students and outsource them to their mainframe customers after a couple of months of Cobol training.

Question is, can these young programmers replace the wealth of knowledge that the ‘seasoned’ Cobol workforce has? Are they able to correctly interpret the often undocumented treasure of business logic that is built in these legacy systems?

Will they be ‘up and running’ fast enough to fill the hole that the retirement wave leaves? Outsourcing companies benefit of Cobol resource scarcity. Rates and salaries for mainframe programmers and administrators are some of the highest in the IT industry. Starting salaries for college graduates are ranging from $50.000 to $75.000 a year. In combination with the already high mainframe MIPS cost, this cranks up the TCO of legacy systems even more.

Honor the past and embrace the future

Instead of teaching the next generation to work with the old generation’s legacy, wouldn’t it be better to transform the good old stuff into the new world? By taking the valuable knowledge and business logic that resides in legacy systems and transforming that to a modern .NET based environment you will have the best of both worlds.

A fully automated like for like migration will do just that. You will even have the choice of whether to continue programming in Cobol or switch to C#/VB.NET. This way you continue to capitalize on your current Cobol knowledge while opening the door for new technology at the same time. Click here for more information.

Grains Chicago Business article by John Pletz

Datacenter Dynamics Article by Max Smolaks

Legacy systems & the Internet of Things

June 9, 2017

Are you ready to jump on the IoT train?

Internet of Things (IoT) is the next megatrend. The 1990s’ fixed internet wave connected 1 billion users while the 2000s’ mobile wave connected another 2 billion. According to a Goldman and Sachs study, the IoT has the potential to connect 10X as many (28 billion) “things” to the Internet by 2020, ranging from bracelets to cars.
IoT will have far-reaching implications that touches every industry, from healthcare to retail to oil and gas exploitation and homebuilding.
Just as the first 2 waves of the internet era led to profound changes in the economy, the IoT will create new winners and losers based on a company’s ability to adapt to a world where things are connected.
Insurance Nexus recently conducted an Insurance IoT Industry Survey which shows that 90% of the 350 respondents agree that IoT will revolutionize the way insurers do business. It also shows that only 7% of the Insurance companies are fully embracing IoT today.

Don’t miss the train of IoT opportunities
The insurance world increasingly embraces IoT initiatives that help reduce risk, improve loss ratios, claim to handle and drive premium growth like:

• Telematics: gathering car data like the history of speed, distance, turning and braking patterns, time of day, etc. to price and maintain “usage-based” insurance (“UBI”).
• Environmental Sensors to detect temperature, smoke, toxic fumes, mold, earthquake motion, etc. With two-way communication, these IoT devices can also provide predictive alerts on potentially dangerous conditions.
• Connected Biometrics. Gathering lifestyle information on daily activities like calorie burn, heart rate and sleep pattern history.
• Diagnostics: Highly intelligent sensors are embedded in many products including appliances, toys, consumer electronics, industrial machines, vehicles, etc.
As manufacturers of these devices embed and enable IoT, predictive and preventative service prior to product breakdown or component failure can be provided.

Mainframe blocking the road to innovation
The new world requires a new approach to new technology. Transforming Legacy Applications is mandatory in order to:

– embrace new technologies, protocols and standards. The ‘old’ mainframe technology makes it difficult to connect to new technologies
– handle data and analytics. Legacy systems are not able to keep up
– deal with security challenges. Cures for new threats are developed for new technologies first
– smoothly connect/integrate all different environments – open systems are much easier connected than mainframe
– avoid exorbitant operational costs. The drastic increase in workload and MIPS will drastically increase the cost
– keep up with the competition. Time to the solution is a major driver in gaining and keeping a competitive advantage. Legacy can be a major road blocker in the race for market share

Innovation is key if you do not want to miss the train of IoT opportunities.
It is clear that the mainframe does not offer the flexibility and agility required to adopt new technologies. Although the transformation of your mainframe environment requires an investment the immediate cost savings, due to drastically reduced operational cost, make the ROI rapid and the investment worthwhile.

Don’t move the legacy issue elsewhere but solve it by truly transforming it….
Check out the success stories


Goldman Sachs report

Forbes article, 5 ways IoT will change the insurance industry

No place for legacy systems in Insurtech

January 11, 2017

The insurance landscape has changed drastically over the last few years. As Insurance thought leader Matteo Carbone states in his article: ‘The future of insurance is insurtech‘, the insurance sector has entered a phase of profound transformation. According to Carbone: “The amplitude of the digital transformation happening in the insurance industry is widespread and encompasses all of the phases of the insurance value chain, from underwriting to claims.” This requires a complete shift of IT processes and technologies that most established insurance companies still run their business on.

Carbone has developed a classification framework called Connected Insurance which represents a new paradigm for the insurance business, an approach that fits with the mainstream Gen C, where “C” means connectivity.

The question is how to enter this new paradigm when burdened with legacy systems, while competition is fierce and new insurtech companies are entering the market quickly.

When asking Carbone, he replied that he basically sees two possible scenarios for established insurers with legacy systems: they either cooperate with start-ups or they purchase new systems and migrate their applications. Either way, there’s no place for legacy systems in today’s insurtech landscape.

These legacy systems, however, contain a business value. Many of the more or less standard packages have long been migrated to off the shelve applications. What’s left are business-critical, in house developed applications. On the one hand, they are the heart of the business but on the other hand, they are a bottleneck for innovation. Inflexible, high maintenance and difficult to integrate with modern technologies. It seems like a daunting prospect.

What if there was an automated way to transform these applications while keeping their business value, in a way that does not interfere with business and has little to no impact on users? Sounds too good to be true? Check out a real customer experience at OTP Banka Croatia.

Apply for a free assessment or contact us for more information.


Automated versus manual conversion

January 6, 2017

There are many articles on the Internet that discuss the subject of the use of tools – versus manual conversion. All of them deliver the same message to the following questions:

  • Do automated conversions cost less than manual rewrites?
  • What are the advantages of doing an automated conversion versus a manual rewrite?

We know that automated conversions offer several distinct advantages over manual rewrites and that manual conversion of applications to another language base is an extensive manual effort. This, versus the efforts required to carry out the same conversion with automated and expert-designed conversion tools that focus on the source environment idiosyncrasies.

Download our whitepaper to find out the many benefits of automated conversion.

Software Improvement Group evaluates AMT

July 14, 2016

Independent analyst SIG: “Asysco’s legacy migration improves development & maintainability”

Software Improvement Group, Europe’s leading authority on code quality and maintenance, has performed an evaluation of Asysco’s Migration Technology. In the report SIG explores:
  • Quality of the post-conversion source code, compared to pre-conversion, in terms of maintainability
  • Impact on source code maintenance activities of an existing development team
  • Software engineering practices supported by the post-conversion development environments, compared to today’s  industry standards;
  • Organisational and strategic implications to take into consideration;

According to SIG, when comparing the original legacy code with the converted code, the overall code maintainability rating improves through Asysco’s transformation.
Download the full report:

Asysco raises awareness for the legacy challenge at DIA Barcelona

July 13, 2016

Legacy systems like mainframes, still power the core administrations of many insurance companies. These systems are expensive, inflexible and difficult to integrate with. They negatively impact your ability to innovate and to gain competitive advantage.

Competitive advantage is tightly linked to an organizations’ ability to respond quickly to market changes and customer demands. Innovation is key. Every euro spent on these legacy systems is a euro lost on innovation. The only alternative seems to be to replace the legacy system with a commercial insurance package but that’s not a simple undertaking: implementation takes a lot of time, it usually requires you to adapt your business process and is costly.

Innovation for the finance and insurance industry

Asysco has helped many insurance companies, such as Aegon, Aviva, American Public Life, Cosvi and others to move their core systems to modern technologies in as much as 9 months to 1 year. Once in the new environment, these companies have been able to selectively replace and integrate (parts of) the system in a matter of months allowing much faster innovation with new trends such as mobile, cloud, self-service, business intelligence, data mining and so on.
Legacy is no longer an inhibitor but an asset waiting to be leveraged for business success. Innovation happens much faster than through any other approach and with manageable risk and clear ROI. Imagine all the things you are currently unable to do with the old technologies: real time insight and knowledge, fast and flexible changes, easy and straight through integration with all the solutions presented at DIA Barcelona.

Why was Asysco selected for DIA Barcelona?

Asysco has a long and proven track record in mainframe migration and legacy transformation. Over the years they have completed over 70 migration projects with a 100% success rate. They have never failed a single project. Their Asysco Migration Technology (AMT) and methodology is unique in the market. The key to success is Asysco’s proven automated migration of the entire legacy ecosystem: code, data, batch, scheduling, operations management, security, etc.  are all automatically converted to open systems equivalents delivering a target environment that delivers same or better quality of service (availability, scalability, resilience, manageability, security, …). This combined with their extensive experience and large number of references in the insurance industry makes Asysco a valuable speaker at DIA.

Interview on main stage

Asysco speakers Bernd Sakulski and Suzanne Glorie were interviewed by DIA Asociate and co-founder Conny Dorrestijn who has a long track record in marketing and business development roles in the international financial technology industry.

Click here to see the video 

OTP Croatia secures future for its core banking through Asysco migration

July 13, 2016

Asysco today announced that it has successfully completed the legacy transformation project at OTP Banka Hrvatska (OBH), Croatia (part of the Hungarian OTP Group).
The project was delivered in close cooperation with outsourcing partner JET-SOL, aligning with and adding value to OTP Group’s Unisys roadmap.

Project Overview

Project Scope:

  • Unisys’s URBIS package (core banking);
  • running on ES7000 hardware with Suse Linux;
  • with approx. 5 Million lines of EAE/LINC legacy code;
  • including 1.4 TB of production data.

Next to the URBIS conversion, the focus of the project was on integration, specifically with the new solutions for replacing Unisys’ proprietary NOF handling.
OBH has chosen Asysco’s AMT LION solution, running on native Microsoft technologies, which delivers a flexible “stepping-stone” into C#.NET.

The project started at the end of September 2015 and was delivered within 9 months.

Smooth Go Live in just one weekend

During the Go Live weekend, all comparison tests related to the data migration and the running of the batch reports proved 100%. On Monday morning, the URBIS application was opened to the business.

Click here to watch the reference video

Click below to download the case study

About OTP Bank

OTP Bank Group is one of the largest independent financial services providers in Central and Eastern Europe with a full range of banking services for private individuals and corporate clients. OTP Group comprises large subsidiaries, granting services in the field of insurance, real estate, factoring, leasing and asset management, investment and pension funds. The bank is serving clients in 9 countries, namely Hungary, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Serbia, Romania, Croatia, Ukraine, Montenegro and Russia.

Nowadays OTP Groups’ more than 36,000 employees are serving 13 million clients in over 1,500 branches and through electronic channels in all its markets. In Hungary, OTP is still the largest commercial bank with a market share of more than 25%.