To drive responsive service and efficient operations, this health insurer depends on timely information delivery. With data volumes growing non-stop, how can it keep up with demand for rapid insight?
Building on an 18-year investment in IBM Db2, the insurer introduced BLU Acceleration to deliver a five-times boost to query performance, empowering teams to unlock ultra-fast insight from information.
5x fasterquery performance with introduction of BLU Acceleration
3.5 DBAsmanage 950 database environments
25% reductionin main database footprint with compression, cutting complexity and costs
Business challenge story
Meeting new data-driven demands
When a customer files a claim, or gets in touch with a query, insurers must be able to locate the relevant information rapidly, in order to deliver effective service. Similarly, providers need reliable access to operational and financial data, so that they can keep business running smoothly.
This US health insurance provider has long recognized the vital role that data plays in supporting excellent customer service and efficient operational planning. That’s why the company has used IBM Db2 as its strategic database platform for over 18 years.
A spokesperson begins: “Data touches every aspect of our business, and so does IBM Db2. We store well over 60 percent of all our enterprise data on Db2, and it supports everything from claims and policy administration to member portals and third-party applications.”
As digitization continues to drive radical change in the industry, effective data management has become more important to sustaining competitive advantage than ever before.
The spokesperson continues: “We’re generating more data all the time, and the business is constantly demanding faster, easier access to information. At the same time, like any IT function, we’re being asked to deliver these improved capabilities while keeping to a very tight budget. To ensure that we can meet the business’s needs while keeping costs and management effort to a minimum, we are always looking for new ways to enhance performance and efficiency.”
Taking database services to the next level
To stay one step ahead of data-driven demands, the insurer makes sure to stay up-to-date with the latest developments on the Db2 platform.
“Over the years, Db2 has grown into a truly mission-critical platform for our business,” says the spokesperson. “IBM is continuously developing the platform and that helps us stay at the forefront and take advantage of the latest in database technology. For instance, we sit on Db2 advisory boards, where we get a first look at new developments on the product roadmap; we also get to test new functionality and share our experiences and ideas.”
He adds: “We have built up a close relationship with IBM over the years, and we don’t think we could have achieved this without IBM’s support. They’ve equipped us with us knowledge, confidence and access to contacts that have enabled us to get the most out of Db2.”
The latest step on the insurer’s data journey was an upgrade to Db2 Version 11.1, which the company currently uses to support its main data warehouse environment—approximately 12TB in size—as well as two data marts with a combined 10TB of data, alongside other database environments.
The spokesperson recalls: “We started the migration by moving over data from our data warehouse environment. It took us just 18 hours to load all 12TB of data, rebuild the indexes and update the runstats. This process was much faster and smoother than any of us had anticipated.
“During the migration, we made use of advanced compression techniques provided by Db2 to shrink the size of our data warehouse from 12TB to 9TB. It is now 25 percent smaller than before, which gives us much-needed headroom for our growing data volumes.”
The insurance provider is also taking advantage of in-memory BLU Acceleration technology to deliver a more streamlined experience for users of its online analytical processing (OLAP) and online transaction processing (OLTP) environments.
In addition, the insurer utilizes the Db2 High Availability Disaster Recovery (HADR) feature on some platforms to guard against data loss and keep information available around the clock.
The spokesperson comments: “We have been running HADR for close to ten years now and it has always been rock solid. We currently support some 12 HADR environments across our Db2 landscape. We find it to be a very valuable feature, because it allows us to keep database services highly available, and perform upgrades and maintenance without interruption to operations.”
The insurer is also preparing to take the next steps to optimize its data warehouse landscape and recently completed a proof of concept using the IBM Integrated Analytics System. The company wanted to determine whether the solution would deliver the performance levels required to consolidate its data warehouses. Following the successful demonstration, IBM Cloud Labs will now start to migrate workloads from the insurer’s non-IBM data warehouse to the new system.
The spokesperson adds: “The results we’ve seen with the IBM Integrated Analytics System have been hugely impressive, with the solution clearly outperforming our third-party data warehouse. We now have the capabilities to merge our three databases, including the main Db2 instances, into a single data warehouse, helping us to achieve significant cost savings and efficiency gains, and simplifying the management task for our database administrators even further.”
Following the introduction of BLU Acceleration, the insurer has experienced dramatic performance improvements. With the ability to analyze large volumes of data quickly and in-depth, the company is empowering teams to seize new opportunities, respond to customers faster and make timelier decisions.
“We were simply blown away by the impact that BLU Acceleration had on performance,” says the spokesperson. “Today, average query performance is around five times faster than before. We even took one analytics process down from 23 hours to one minute—an astronomical improvement.”
Equally, Db2 has proven to be an easy platform to manage, making it possible for the insurer to support an extensive environment with minimal resources effectively. The company makes extensive use of the autonomic features offered by Db2 to keep database services running optimally while keeping management effort and expense low.
“We find Db2 to be a very hands-off platform,” confirms the spokesperson. “There are other teams in IT who seem to be in constant firefighting mode with their systems—it’s the complete opposite for us on the Db2 side. We have around 950 databases and 3.5 database administrators managing it all. We think it is exceptional value to have such a small team supporting such a big environment.”
The spokesperson concludes: “Db2 continues to be our go-to database platform because it’s proven time and time again to be very high performing, available and resilient. Db2 truly is an easy platform to work with and support, and one that the business can count on to deliver the timely insight it needs to deliver best-in class service and quality health plans for our members.”
US health insurance provider
This health insurance company serves millions of members across the United States.
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