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Desjardins Modernizes

Quebec-based insurer will migrate 80 percent of its applications and data onto a modern Oracle/Unix platform by 2008.

Motivated by lower cost and risk, as well as greater systems flexibility, Desjardins General Insurance Group (DGIG; Quebec; US$1.3 billion in revenue) selected BluePhoenix Solutions (Cary, N.C.) to execute a multi-million dollar legacy extension project involving migration of data and applications to a new technology platform. The Canadian P&C insurer had decided that continuing to run on its COBOL/IDMS and MVS platform was risky and costly, according to Pierre Deschenes, senior EVP, IT, DGIG. The carrier then drafted a technology transformation road map that projected an eight- to 10-year modernization effort.

"We decided to move more quickly and arrived at a plan to move about 80 percent of our applications by the end of 2008," Deschenes says. The remaining 20 percent will be migrated to the new Oracle (Redwood Shores, Calif.) and Unix platform between 2009 and 2011, he adds.

DGIG turned to BluePhoenix to perform the migration of the insurer's current COBOL/IDMS applications to a Windows/COBOL (previously Fujitsu NetCOBOL; Sunnyvale, Calif.) and Unix/Oracle platform environment. The vendor will deliver the migration using its BluePhoenix IT Discovery and PlatformMigrator tools.

Deschenes explains that DGIG chose legacy extension rather than replacement because the migration would be more transparent to agents and end customers. "We have built applications in-house that are very close to our processes," he relates. "They are very good systems, and we didn't want to change the processes because they work well for us as a direct writer of insurance."

DGIG currently is in pilot to test the feasibility of the connections needed to support the migration, Deschenes relates. The carrier expects to see a full return on its investment by the project's completion in 2011. "The new infrastructure will give us greater flexibility at lower cost," Deschenes says. "We expect to be able to move much more quickly when we have to implement new e-commerce applications."

Anthony O'Donnell has covered technology in the insurance industry since 2000, when he joined the editorial staff of Insurance & Technology. As an editor and reporter for I&T and the InformationWeek Financial Services of TechWeb he has written on all areas of information ... View Full Bio

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