Headquartered in Columbus, OH, Nationwide is a Fortune 500 insurance and financial services company with more than $161 billion in assets and more than 36,000 employees, including 6,000 in IT. The company operates in a highly regulated industry, which makes the sophistication, failover and industrial-strength security and processing of the System z integral to its operations and governance. In 2005, Nationwide also discovered that migrating independent Linux server applications to Linux on System z dramatically reduced its total cost of operations for hardware, software, data center space, personnel, and power consumption.
Nationwide was already experiencing serious technology pain points from the continuous growth of its business. Among these were:
• Too many distributed physical servers with low utilization
• A lengthy provisioning process that delayed the implementation of new applications for headquarters and agencies, and for new customers for Nationwide’s human resources outsourcing business
• Limitations in data center power and floor space
• High Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)
• Difficulty allocating processing power for a dynamic environment.
“Our goal was server optimization and our approach was virtualization,” says Guru Vasudeva, Nationwide vice president and CTO.
Setting the Stage for Virtualization
In planning for virtualization, Nationwide had three major end-user constituencies to consider.
First, there were the core Nationwide.com application users. “Our corporate policies and procedures, claims, and records were all housed on the mainframe, as well as our workhorse transaction processing, which utilizes CICS, IMS and DB2,” says Scott Miggo, vice president of Infrastructure Engineering.
Complementing mainframe processing were more than 5,000 distributed servers, many of which supported property and casualty applications for more than 4,200 geographically distributed Nationwide agencies. “These servers supported all the agency desktop applications that accessed our system, and each separate agency has as many as 50 employees,” says Miggo.
A third tier of end-user computing was Nationwide’s employee absence management outsourcing business, where Nationwide serves as an Application Services Provider (ASP) with a for-profit software subscription that’s sold to human resources departments at some of the largest Fortune 100 companies.
Making the Move to a Virtualized Environment
Before developing a formal migration plan, Nationwide assessed several different virtualization scenarios.