Interviews

Unum: A Model of IT Evolution

3 Pages

Tustin: The team needed a solution that would relieve us from being bogged down in requests for a variety of fairly simple, everyday tasks so we could spend most of our time implementing and managing infrastructure. We looked at various products and found the BMC Control-M Workload Automation solution with self service capabilities. The product did what we needed and allowed us to focus more of our workday on our primary tasks without adding staff, exceeding our expectations for return on investment.

EE: Did you have any concerns about empowering your users with work that is typically done by the IT team? 

Tustin: There were a few things. We wanted to make sure that we had the right security in place and we also wanted to make sure that users were sufficiently trained and comfortable with taking on the work. 

Security is built into the BMC solution so user capabilities can be limited by their login information. All actions taken are also logged, providing an audit trail. After reviewing the solution with our auditing department, we started rolling it out.

EE: What about the user training and their willingness to take on the work and responsibilities?

Tustin: We decided to have sessions to train the users, and attendees quickly understood the productivity and financial benefits that could be gained—both at IT and business levels. The first session was with the application development unit and they immediately acknowledged that the product would greatly help business partners to gain quicker responses to their requests. While the main reason we licensed the product was to maximize my infrastructure team’s productivity, both IT and business users embraced the self service functionality of Control-M because it gives them more access and control over the things they care about most. They don’t view it as taking on more work or responsibilities—it’s giving them what they need when they need it so business runs smoothly. 

EE: What insights can you relate to our readers regarding your use of self service applications and Control-M Self Service specifically?

Tustin: Since our initial rollout of the product, various departments in Unum have already benefited from the Control-M Self Service solution, including Human Resources and the Data Warehouse groups. The scheduling interface is very intuitive and easy to navigate; it’s a fast and simple way for end users to submit and monitor their work without the hassle of submitting service requests. Not only does it benefit the end user by its ease of use and customized views, it also has contributed greatly to decreasing the number of manual interventions for operations. This product aligns with our Command Center strategy in automating the environment and providing operations with engineering opportunities. We’ve also noticed the solution has created a closer working relationship with the business and the various IT groups using it.

EE: What are the next steps? Are you done rolling out self service?

Tustin: We have more we can and will be doing. We implemented the web interface in our initial implementation. Our next step is to review and implement the Control-M Self Service mobile app. We are already telling users there’s an “app for that.”

EE: What other plans does Unum have to continue to improve customer service and productivity?

Tustin: There are many new opportunities we can now explore to continue improving customer service and employee productivity, and to provide significant, positive impact. The first is implementing a high-availability computing environment. This is where the mainframe transformation program comes in. While the mainframe has been known to be one of the most highly available environments for decades, our business and end customers demand more. We need 100 percent availability on a continuous basis, meaning that no outages—planned or unplanned—can be tolerated. The program we have started will bring the mainframe environment to the next level of availability that our business users are looking for.

The second opportunity is being able to obtain metrics to show the value of infrastructure. We would like to develop a model that relates the investment in infrastructure with an increase in business revenue much like what can be done with an application.

Another opportunity is exploring the benefit that running Linux applications on the mainframe server can be to the business. We have already completed a successful Linux on System z proof of concept and want to understand if and how this will play in our environment. In thinking about recovery alone and our ability to recover the mainframe environment at our second data center, this would be ideal for critical Linux applications.

So even though we have had great success in improving customer service and employee productivity through insourcing the mainframe environment, the mainframe transformation program and automation projects, there is still more work to be done.

EE: Ron, the progress Unum has made over the last two years has been amazing with great benefits to the business. Where do you want to be in a few more years?

Tustin: We want to be a high-availability environment with an infrastructure in place that will satisfy all current and future business needs and permit us to answer every new request from the business with “bring it on—we’re ready for more.”

 

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