SulAmérica significantly reduces IT costs and furthers innovation with Google Cloud Platform
The largest independent insurance company in Brazil, SulAmérica, is always on the lookout for opportunities to improve the relationship with their customers. This desire has garnered them a reputation of being early adopters and innovators when it comes to technologies, especially those with which the customer interacts.
In contrast, this vision was slow to be implemented across the company’s internal technologies and in 2011 SulAmérica was still running on legacy mainframe and Unix systems designed 15 years earlier. These out-dated systems were difficult to update, prone to disruptions and outages and took months to implement significant changes. The company knew it was giving up an edge to those competitors with nimbler systems and more customer-friendly interfaces and decided to make a change.
At a time when there was still a lot of resistance to the cloud, and IT teams generally viewed applications in silos, SulAmérica made a bold move and sought a cloud-based solution to replace its legacy systems. It needed an innovative partner with a similar, progressive vision for new technologies, but with a solid reputation for high quality service offerings.
Long-time partner CI&T was selected for the initiative. Not only did CI&T have the unique perspective and technical vision to match SulAmérica, the company is also a leader in transformational methodologies, including Agile, Scrum and Lean. Upon understanding SulAmérica’s challenges, CI&T made a recommendation to modernize the applications by strategically adopting cloud within the core business, running critical systems in a PaaS platform. This was unusual, as most companies - especially those with a large, engaged customer base - were only using cloud as a peripheral solution, not as a way to replace the entire front end user interface.
CI&T recommended Google Cloud Platform to update the systems because it offers a safe and robust infrastructure, with high scalability and reliability. Google’s hosting and middleware costs were also the most competitive as there was no upfront investment.
Scalability was essential because it allowed SulAmérica to intermittently increase the scope of the environment without incurring additional costs. Further, the constant evolution of Google was great as there were always new, complimentary services available. "When you use Google, you have access to all of its resources: Google search, Google Maps, Fusion tables, Datastore. This is very powerful,” says Cristiano Barbieri, CIO at SulAmérica. This access proved essential in providing SulAmérica’s insurance brokers and end users with better access to the information they need.
To kick-off the project, the existing system was migrated to Google Cloud Platform and the new architecture was carefully designed to integrate with the legacy systems and automate processes from end-to-end. System updates and new components were crafted using an Enterprise Agile development methodology to ensure a short time-to-market and more transparent and agile business processes. This combination of Agile and Google Cloud Platform has proven to be a very effective recipe.
SulAmérica's move to the cloud changed the day-to-day of the business and spurred a number of innovative developments. SulAmérica is differentiating itself from competitors by reducing costs and human resources that can now be used to further promote innovation in projects with tangible and measurable results.
With the new platform, which is scalable to grow as the business grows, SulAmérica decreased service disruptions and accelerated business cycles, resulting in improved effectiveness across the company. "Personally I do not remember these applications ever being down. I don't know what kind of magic Google is doing, Even when there are changes or maintenance work in their system, our system does not stop,” says Barbieri. Also, by adopting Google Cloud Platform, SulAmérica significantly reduced costs (about 80%) that would otherwise have gone to software and hardware upgrades. “It’s almost hard to believe it can be so cheap. We weren’t used to that,” continues Barbieri.
Updates to the system are released quickly, even allowing for experiments in production. Changes that previously took 6 to 9 months are now implemented within days or weeks. "Google Cloud Platform gives us the ability to experiment without spending a ton of money. I can also fund innovation and experiments. We can quickly dismiss what fails and quickly adopt the improvements,” says Barbieri.
SulAmérica's IT team does not have to spend time and resources maintaining the new infrastructure in the cloud anymore. They can focus on identifying opportunities for the company to further differentiate itself in this highly competitive market.
These projects are aligned with the mission, vision and values of SulAmérica: proximity, transparency, excellence and dynamism.