For all industries, competitive pressures and consumer demands require
organizations to constantly and consistently address all external
forces (e.g., declining returns on investment, tighter industry
regulations and tougher competition) and internal forces (e.g., rising
operational costs, maintenance of infrastructure and other systems).
According to Gartner Group, the ability to create new products and
bring them to market faster is a top priority for those in the
insurance industry. However, this task is constantly challenged by
inefficient processes and insufficient technologies.
Genworth Financial is an insurance holding company serving the
lifestyle protection, retirement income, investment and mortgage
insurance needs of more than 15 million customers. The company has more
than 6,000 skilled professionals overseeing $104 billion in assets
throughout its global operations in 22 countries.
During the last decade, the insurance industry experienced a paradigm
shift led by new compliance and regulatory issues, as well as a
realization that legacy technologies were ill-equipped to handle the
speed and capacity requirements needed to comply with these new
regulations, improve analytic capabilities and bring new products to
These regulatory pressures gave rise to more stringent requirements for
internal capital assessment and risk profile calculations. Genworth
needed to increase the accuracy of its calculations and drive down
unmanaged risk, while satisfying the industry's growing appetite for
speed and capacity -- ensuring customer retention remained high.
With demand for compute-intensive workloads, such as actuarial analysis
surpassing existing IT resources, Genworth sought new ways to guarantee
workload execution and improve the run-time rates of its actuarial
To keep up with the exponential demand for computing power, control
costs and maintain its competitive advantage, the company adopted a
Grid computing strategy. Rather than enduring the high costs to build a
homegrown distributed-computing solution, Genworth decided to deploy a
Grid-enabling solution that would distribute workloads across available
systems and resources as needed. This standards-based infrastructure
could virtualize data components and business logic, which are
typically found in mission-critical applications.
"The cost to deploy processing across a grid was nominal compared to
the expenses associated with building out a clustered configuration, or
adding new server boxes," said Scott McKay, global CIO of Genworth.
Genworth chose GridServer from DataSynapse to leverage available,
underutilized compute capacity within its existing IT infrastructure to
reduce cycle times of its actuarial projection software from days to
minutes, giving the actuarial team improved performance and control in
determining premiums and optimizing cash flow while minimizing risk.
Replacing a farm of 10 dedicated servers with 100 desktop machines
linked by the Grid allowed Genworth to accelerate time to results and
increase the number of modeling iterations achieved within a given
timeframe. "The amount of additional computing power we're getting from
the Grid is tremendous," said McKay. "We're seeing anywhere from 10
times or more improvement in cycle times, just by retiring dedicated
hardware and leveraging assets that we already had."
The success achieved by placing actuarial software on the Grid inspired
Genworth to evaluate enabling other business-critical applications via
Grid technology, including life insurance applications, annuity
administration software and asset liability management applications. To
identify and transition into production appropriate applications,
Genworth used a best-practices methodology that helps companies
identify and Grid-enable the applications that yield the highest
business benefit when integrated into a virtual application
After completing the proof-of-concept, Genworth identified the next
Grid-worthy application: a variable annuity administration system that
manages over 700,000 accounts. The application suffered from
long-running batch cycles, draining computing resources and negatively
impacting Genworth's ability to deliver enviable service. To improve
performance against service level agreements (SLAs) and drive better
risk management, the application was added to the Grid. Once in
production, policy valuation jobs taking 28 hours were processed in
only 90 minutes.
"With Grid, we are able to do a better job managing risk," said McKay.
"As a life insurance business, you're winning on the backend because
the policies you're selling are better underwritten and therefore more
In order to achieve repeated success across the enterprise and to scale
without the purchase of additional hardware, a migration from a
departmental strategy to an enterprise-wide Grid strategy was deployed.
The Grid solution armed Genworth with an affordable and resilient IT
environment for fast, in-depth analysis and improved decision support.
As such, the company currently performs additional, more sophisticated
stochastic analysis to drive better risk management, reduce cycle times
for close process and support regulatory requirements with ease.
"I think it would be very difficult for a CIO to find a technology and
an application that has the payback that Grid does," said Kevin Gordon,
CIO of insurance and investment systems at Genworth.
About Kelly Vizzini
As chief marketing officer at DataSynapse, Kelly Vizzini works to
leverage the company's existing successes and domain expertise to build
a brand identity that positions DataSynapse as the de facto standard in
the U.S. and European markets for distributed computing solutions.
Prior to her role at DataSynapse, Vizzini held marketing positions at
several software companies including Prescient, Optum, Metasys and
InfoSystems. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and
communications from the University of South Carolina.