Zurich Financial Services Embraces SOA to Improve Business
Client:Zurich Financial Services
- Keep core products competitive and in regulatory compliance while continuing to shorten the “product-to-market” cycle
- A multi-year program to transform its application portfolio through service-oriented architecture
- Initial business services for Zurich North America and Farmers Insurance Group were delivered 13 days ahead of schedule
- Many new SOA projects entered the pipeline
Zurich Financial Services (Zurich) is a global insurance-based financial services provider with offices in 170 countries. Zurich faces a challenge shared by many established insurers: how to keep their core products competitive and in regulatory compliance while continuing to shorten the “product-to-market” cycle.
Many of Zurich’s IT assets are in silos by business unit, region or service area; there is duplicate functionality across the silos, and integration and maintenance costs are climbing. To address this challenge, Zurich has undertaken a multi-year program to transform its application portfolio through service-oriented architecture (SOA).
“CSC was essential in helping Zurich outline a strategy for our global SOA program and crucial in taking the concepts to real-world implementations in terms of governance, methodology, standards, etc.," says Bryan Mjaanes, vice president and director, Global SOA Program and North American SOA Competency Center. "It's easy to create slides, but an entirely different matter to take those slides and turn them into real, working SOA services.”
Launching a global SOA program
SOA aligns well with Zurich’s corporate-wide shift to business process orientation known as The Zurich Way. With SOA, Zurich expects to:
- Improve business effectiveness and flexibility by exposing and sharing information across functional silos.
- Gain cost efficiencies through faster, more consistent solution delivery.
- Lower costs for operations, maintenance and testing activities.
- Reduce risk through standardization and service reuse.
- Create an adaptable application environment with less complexity and redundancy and greater, more flexible interconnectivity.
CSC worked with Zurich to gain economies of scale by combining individual SOA activities into a single global program with initial representation from business units in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany and Switzerland.
CSC SOA experts joined the Zurich Global SOA Program (ZSOA) at its inception as key members of the ZSOA Global Core Team. Since then, CSC has been actively involved with nearly every aspect of this enterprise-wide SOA program.
“[CSC's SOA group is] a knowledgeable team with a lot of industry experience using varied platforms," says Kevin Hunter, vice president and chief architect of Zurich North America. "They were able to bring that experience, working in partnership with our internal team, to quickly deliver on our SOA initiative. I have been extremely pleased with the professional services folks."
CSC collaborated with the ZSOA program director to develop a pragmatic implementation plan and prepare the funding request to launch the ZSOA Program. Once it was approved, the real work began.
Organization and governance
Zurich selected an “SOA Competency Center” model; CSC’s experience has shown this approach is effective for organizations starting to implement SOA. The SOA Competency Center governs and manages the service portfolio; develops and promotes the use of SOA standards, policies and best practices; and provides mentorship and direct delivery support to individual SOA projects.
To align with Zurich’s federated culture, several regional ZSOA Competency Centers were established. Each regional Competency Center participates on the ZSOA Global Core Team — to share ideas and to develop architectural standards, patterns, policies, frameworks and templates for use by all.
CSC stressed the value of service portfolio planning as a strategic part of SOA governance. CSC was a key participant in “service roadmap” projects for both Farmers Insurance Group and Zurich North America. New development projects are now assessed against these service roadmaps to identify reuse opportunities. ZSOA Competency Center directors will also measure progress against the service roadmaps as a gauge of the enterprise’s SOA maturity.
CSC collaborated with Zurich experts to define SOA governance policies and processes that aligned and leveraged existing IT governance mechanisms. The resulting ZSOA governance model defines clear roles and responsibilities, formalizes decision-making authority and establishes practical metrics to measure results from the ZSOA Program.
Selecting technology, delivering services
Leveraging CSC’s experience and templates, Zurich was able to quickly prioritize their key SOA requirements for the near and long term, creating a ZSOA Technical Reference Architecture to guide future SOA technology selection efforts. Zurich relied heavily on CSC experts to help evaluate — and challenge — vendor responses. Zurich senior leadership was impressed with the speed of the selection process and with the successful outcome of the proof of concept.
In partnership with Zurich staff and vendor professional services resources, CSC managed delivery of the initial business services for Zurich North America and Farmers Insurance Group. To the delight of Zurich executive management, the first ZSOA services were completed 13 days ahead of schedule.
Within Zurich, the ZSOA Program is now highly visible and recognized as one of Zurich’s strategic IT initiatives. It has also been identified as one of the most comprehensive SOA programs in the industry. Many new ZSOA projects are now in the pipeline.
From the start, CSC has served as a trusted advisor to the ZSOA Program. CSC continues to support this strategic initiative through consulting, project management and service development expertise in business units across the United States and Europe.