REVIEWER: Ray Helms, senior IT consultant for Kanawha Insurance Co., CGI.
BACKGROUND: Kanawha Insurance Co. is one of the largest privately owned life insurance companies in the Southeast United States. Kanawha is licensed as an insurer in 45 states and as a reinsurer in New York. Since 1985, Kanawha's net worth has grown by 12% per year to more than $166 million, while assets under management now exceed $660 million. Kanawha has received an "A" (excellent) rating by A.M. Best Company for 20 consecutive years and has been rated "A" (strong) by Standard & Poor's.
PLATFORMS: A partitioned IBM iSeries (AS/400) server (Model 825), which includes a production partition, a development partition and a Web partition.
PROBLEM SOLVED: Our policyholders, agents and corporate customers expressed the need for access to up-to-the-minute insurance information via the Web. To meet this request, we required a solution that would ensure absolute system security while providing users with ready access to production data. However, we needed a solution that would provide real-time access to production data through a source separate from the production environment. Data security is always a priority and, with HIPAA compliance regulations, our security concerns have become even more pronounced. As a provider of healthcare services, we are required to comply with HIPAA, which strives to improve healthcare information delivery by standardizing electronic data interchange and protecting the confidentiality and security of health data.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: In 2000, we implemented DataMirror Transformation Server. Transformation Server is currently used with two applications, which are both housed on the iSeries production system. The first application, LSP (Life Support Plus), includes life and health insurance policy information; the second application, called Group +, is used for claims information. A third application is running on a Windows NT server in production at this time. The DataMirror solution is also integrating data from this application.
STRENGTHS: Transformation Server allows us to seamlessly flow data in real time between systems, providing users with access to current information. We have several hundred users, and they are all very pleased with the new process for requesting and accessing data. This level of customer satisfaction is important as it allows us to improve overall service levels and ensure customer retention and loyalty. The benefits afforded by Transformation Server far exceed our corporate needs, as the solution also supports our HIPAA compliance requirements by ensuring all electronic data exchange is carried out as securely as possible.
WEAKNESSES: Although we like the capability of selecting the data we need mirrored and creating derived fields, the process can become complicated at times. Also, running nightly batch jobs for massive data updates can, at times, slow down our processing. The solution is to take down the DataMirror subsystems before we begin our nightly processing and bring them back up after the nightly backup is completed. The mirroring usually catches up before the users begin work at 7:00 a.m. The catch-up time after the busiest nights when we run daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly cycles for our systems is approximately two hours.
SELECTION CRITERIA: We selected Transformation Server because of its ease of use and flexibility. We were also pleased with DataMirror's long-standing experience in the data integration marketplace.
DELIVERABLES: To date, Transformation Server mirrors approximately 80 files between LSP's two subscriptions and mirrors 50 files between nine subscriptions for Group +, eliminating paper-based activities altogether. This provides us with a truly synchronized production environment. Prior to implementing the DataMirror solution, users were required to request data through the customer service center either by telephone or mail. This process took anywhere from several days to a week to administer. With real-time data integration between the LSP and Group + applications, data requests can now be fulfilled within one day and ported to the Web server, where information is updated as production data changes occur.
VENDOR SUPPORT: We are very pleased with DataMirror's customer support team. The team has provided us with ongoing assistance from the beginning. In fact, when we moved our iSeries servers from Lancaster to Dallas, the DataMirror support team was on site to help us with this move every step of the way.
DOCUMENTATION: The documentation for Transformation Server was easy to understand and follow. Our users did not require any detailed or additional knowledge to carry out or manage the implementation. In fact, we were able to fully implement the solution in one month.
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