Speed and Efficiency for a Complex Infrastructure

The Customer:
Business in the highly competitive financial services industry has always been about providing the customer with the best possible service to ensure their patronage. Scottish Life recently received recognition for the management of customer facing IT systems and services. Compass Management Consulting, a fact-based performance improvement consultancy, awarded Scottish Life a place in the Top 20 world group of best performing companies in 2001, based on the speed and efficiency of its IT systems development and networks. “There is no question that financial services companies must rely more and more on highly efficient IT systems to help provide quality service to customers at minimum cost. Over the years, Scottish Life has invested prudently but significantly in this area, and we will continue to do so to help ensure that Independent Financial Advisors (IFAs) and their clients receive the kind of service they would want from us,” said Brian Duffin, chief executive of Scottish Life.

The Challenge:
Prior to a major strategic infrastructure enhancement, Scottish Life faced significant obstacles in maintaining service levels. When Scottish Life’s original systems encountered service degradations, the resolution process began by users making a phone call to technical staff. Resolution of problems often resulted in significant delays as the technical staff waded through pages of figures. By the time the issue was resolved, the problem had often become much worse and the provision of service was greatly impacted. The lack of adequate measures to rapidly identify faults in the system led Scottish Life to seek greater reassurance in a resilient, structured solution.

The Solution:
Scottish Life viewed three competing systems’ monitoring tools before selecting Sightline™. After installing Sightline for a trial period, the software detected a major glitch that enabled Scottish Life to solve a significant problem prior to launch of a major new system. In addition, the graphic interface of Sightline made fault diagnosis easier to identify than with the competing products. Sightline’s performance quickly proved its value and was promptly installed across Scottish Life’s infrastructure.

Approximately 200,000 financial transactions are processed daily throughout Scottish Life’s IT infrastructure, with its primary service window operating between the hours of 8 am and 8 pm. At any given time, the system is capable of handling one thousand users, with the number stabilizing at between three to four hundred users at a time. Due to its advancements with Sightline, Scottish Life is now able to provide its computer users with service level agreements (SLAs) guaranteeing ninety-nine percent operational uptime.

The Result:
At the center of Scottish Life operations are two Unisys based mainframe systems. The two mainframe systems contain complex information for the life and pensions financial service markets. Scottish Life predominantly conducts business with independent financial advisors who provide high-quality life and pension advice and services. At the center of Scottish Life operations are two Unisys based mainframe systems. The two key facilities are approximately one mile apart and connected by dark fiber. The first site contains production mainframes and network infrastructure. The second site contains the product development mainframe and network infrastructure, and additionally holds business continuity and disaster recovery facilities.

The production mainframe system is a monolithic Unisys LINC/DMSII application running on a Unisys ClearPath NX 6830. Performance and operation are supported with EMC Disk and ATL Tape Robots. As a regular winner of a ‘5-Star service to clients’ award, Scottish Life requires a consistent service within the Production Environment, based on constant quality, speed of service and rapid fault resolution.