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Penn National Upgrades to HP Exstream 8.0 For Real-Time, On-Demand Communications

A traditional user of HP Exstream for high-volume communications output, the insurer conducted a pilot that cut agents' transaction time to less than half, while reducing the need to code and cutting the network burden in half.

Having used HP (Palo Alto, Calif.) Exstream for high-volume, batch output communications needs for some years, Penn National Insurancel (Harrisburg, Pa.) is upgrading to version 8.0 of the product for real-time, on-demand communications needs. The carrier conducted a pilot in which the new version of Exstream cut network traffic in half, avoided extra coding and enabled agents to complete transactions in half the time they previously took.

"We brought Exstream in several years ago for managing batch output and we're now moving it to some real-time agency facing applications producing on-demand quotes and other functions," reports Brandon Danner, application development analyst, Penn National.

Penn National had found its Exstream 7.0 application unsuited to a check printing application and began using 8.0 through the vendor's managed release program.

Avi Greenfield, product manager, HP Exstream, relates that while the vendor has long been known for its strength in supporting high-volume communications, real-time capabilities were a major focus area in the development of version 8.0 of HP Exstream. "Our aim is to help accelerate the integration and production of on-demand communications," Greenfield says. "There are many features of version 8.0 that provide expanded web services and service architecture support."

Prior to implementing HP Exstream 8.0 Penn National needed to execute two separate calls to a web services governing outputs to the check printing application addressed in the version 8.0 pilot. "That meant double the round time and double coding," notes Penn National's Danner. "The multiple output capabilities of 8.0 allow us to reduce roundtrip calls to the web service, which improves performance and reduces development efforts."

On the check printing applications, the insurer cut two days of coding from a five-day project. "That will scale out considerably on a large project," Danner says. "We also reduced traffic on our network by about half, and perhaps most importantly, we cut by more than half the time agents wait after clicking to request a report."

Penn National has several projects scheduled over the next couple of years relating to the carrier's use of HP Exstream, including a billing system replacement, according to Danner. "These initiatives will be divided more or less evenly between batch volume and real-time, on-demand items," he says. "We'll use HP Exstream 8.0 for both, and we anticipate many benefits to the new version beyond merely keeping up with the software releases."

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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