AEGON Canada migrates OS to meet compliance needs

 With stringent compliance requirements in the insurance industry, AEGON Canada’s aging NT platform just wasn’t going to cut it anymore.

The life insurance and financial services provider made the move to Microsoft’s Windows Server 2003 operating system and is using Active Directory to respond to these compliance requirements. As well, it’s creating a digital document management system to improve customer service.

“This ultimately laid the groundwork for being more compliant around regulatory systems,” said James Betton, assistant vice-president of infrastructure and service delivery with AEGON Canada Inc. in Toronto. “By standardizing our environment, we were able to [deliver to] our regulators and auditors a more standardized and controlled environment.”

Aside from compliancy issues, its aging NT platform wasn’t able to respond quickly to business requirements, whereas the new environment provides collaboration, security and management tools.

“We were a Windows NT 4.0 environment so that had some inherent issues around supportability in the future, which was a key driver for us to move quickly,” said Betton, “as well as the older directory structure didn’t meet our organizational needs from a security and centralized management [perspective].”

Customers running older legacy environments typically spend a lot of their time maintaining and managing their systems, said Hilary Wittman, product manager with Microsoft Canada in Mississauga, Ont. Research from Accenture and Forrester shows that customers can spend as much as 70 per cent of their time and budget managing their environment.

“Customers need to show IT as a strategic asset and it’s pretty tough to do when it only leaves 30 per cent of your time and budget,” she said. “AEGON was spending a lot of time managing their NT 4.0 legacy environment, so they wanted to be able to shift that spending and investment of resources to 50:50.”

Windows Server 2003 improves performance 181 times over NT, said Wittman, and this performance boost was important for AEGON Canada because of the myriad regulations it must comply with in the insurance industry.

AEGON Canada hired Lanworks, a Microsoft Gold Certified Solution Provider, to migrate the company to Windows Server 2003 and Active Directory.

Key drivers included compliance, reducing security exposure (since NT is no longer supported by Microsoft) and the ability to adopt new technologies and new ways of doing business, said Veselin Bjelakovic, vice-president of sales with Lanworks Inc. in Mississauga.

But AEGON Canada required a quick turnaround with 800 users and 50 applications – which was a major challenge during the rollout.

“We had a very tight deadline. For us, velocity was critical,” said Betton. “Something that should have taken us nine months, we did it in three – with a whole lot of sweat.”

After completing the migration last June, AEGON Canada now has a foundation in place to roll out other technologies, including Microsoft SharePoint Services, which is designed to help users set up team sites to share documents and work on projects together. Rights Management Services (RMS) is built into the OS, which allows organizations to enforce document protection. “If you send an e-mail, you want to make sure that e-mail doesn’t get forwarded on or printed,” said Wittman.

AEGON Canada is currently piloting SharePoint and a digital document management system that relies heavily on Active Directory. It’s also considering a Microsoft customer relationship management (CRM) solution that also relies on Active Directory.

The company spent the past three years in catch-up mode, said Betton, so 2006 is about metrics and dashboards. “It’s about starting to measure the return on investment of all the technologies we’ve put in place,” he said. “We’ve spent all this money – now tell me why we’ve spent all this money.”

The upgrade will provide a better way for AEGON Canada to structure and manage its environment, said Bjelakovic. “The biggest ROI comes from their ability to deploy the latest and greatest applications for the business.”


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Vawn Himmelsbach
Vawn Himmelsbach
Is a Toronto-based journalist and regular contributor to IT World Canada's publications.

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