Almost one out of every two people in Sweden is protected by Folksam, an insurance company dating back to 1908 that was recently cited in a book titled “Viking Economics” as an example of innovation. Looking to bring this new wave of thinking to its data center, Folksam turned to the cloud.
Offering non-life and pension insurance services to individuals, associations and companies, Folksam needed an infrastructure that adhered to local regulatory requirements, so in November 2015, Folksam partnered with OpenStack cloud provider, City Network.
With these local regulatory requirements met, Roger Ewert, an IT architect at Folksam, says this is just the beginning of the company’s digitization and automation.
“Right now we are learning to crawl so that we can run and become more efficient using modern technology,” he says.
But that first step wasn’t easy. In the two-year evaluation period, Folksam realized there were very few suppliers who could deliver a private cloud that met EU regulatory requirements as well as Folksam’s.
Identifying OpenStack as a cloud standard for infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), Folksam found that City Network met all of its requirements and knew how to approach its challenges and business needs.
“It was OpenStack’s openness and accessibility, combined with a supplier that truly understood the need for security and the regulatory challenges of an insurance company, that made it possible for us to jump on a private cloud,” says Ewert.
Folksam went into production with OpenStack in March 2016 across two data centers. Now, its new customer-facing applications, including a mobile-friendly website targeting existing and potential customers and partners, run on top of OpenStack.
By choosing an OpenStack private cloud, Folksam got a modern, flexible infrastructure that lowered infrastructure costs, reducing delivery time and total development time.
Staffers who used to wait for infrastructure for up to three months now find it delivered in just minutes, a problem Ewart says “is nice to encounter.” Similarly, costs have been reduced: instead of paying for server infrastructure per month, they pay by the second.
“We now can manage the infrastructure together with the resources of each development team via self-service, instead of through an unwieldy delivery process involving many groups and developers,” he says. “We use the same code all the way from the local development environment to the production environment by pulling the switch if it is a local installation (vagrant) or server-based (OpenStack).”
Self-service OpenStack has allowed Folksam’s team to adapt faster to new needs and agile methods as the internal team controls both the infrastructure and development of applications without any supplier involvement.
Since going live, Folksam has continued to create templates to provision infrastructure for various setups and environments in a fully automated fashion without human tinkering. This kind of reuse made operations faster and easier, and boosted quality as the team can now code and version manage its infrastructure like code for any business application.
Staying on the track of its journey of innovation, Folksam sees that OpenStack can be used with many new products and solutions as well as new technology. Looking forward, the team is eyeing containers as its next adventure on the quest to integrate modern technology.
This article first appeared in the print edition of Superuser magazine, distributed at the OpenStack Summit Barcelona. If you’d like to contribute to the next one, get in touch: [email protected]