When the time came to change its integration platform, Varma Mutual Pension Insurance Company took this opportunity to renew its integration in general. In conjunction with the integration platform change, and with Digia's aid, Varma introduced the DevOps model to keep the wheels of development turning in the future as well.
In both the consulting and the project itself, we found Digia to be quite simply a profound expert. Digia has become a sufficiently large company, but has retained its agility.
Andreas Asuja, Director, ICT architecture & integration services, Varma
Varma Mutual Pension Insurance Company is responsible for the occupational pensions of about 862,000 Finns. Offering each one of them the best customer experience requires continual development – including IT systems. In conjunction with the integration platform update, Varma decided to jump on the agile bandwagon in order to accelerate the development of useful new services with customer appeal.
Noticing that current methods no longer serve important functions in the best possible manner is usually the first indication that IT systems require updating. In Varma's case, there was a more concrete reason: the manufacturer intended to discontinue the integration platform that Varma was using.
However, Varma looked on this as a great opportunity. When considering its new platform, Varma wanted to examine things from a wider perspective.
“Our integration in general needed a major overhaul. We wanted to rethink how best to integrate our systems and bring our activities and processes into the agile development era,” says Varma's Andreas Asuja, Director, ICT architecture & integration services.
Help in selecting a new platform was on hand in the form of consulting from Digia, provided using the Fast Track concept. Fast Track consulting gave a quick overview of the architecture required for the integration solution.
“During the consulting period, we started to get a clear picture of what we really wanted from our integration platform.”
Afterwards, Varma decided to choose the IBM Integration Bus platform recommended by Digia. One of the factors affecting this decision was the platform's compatibility with older mainframe applications.
In addition to introducing a new platform, Varma also rethought how to integrate its systems in the future. Agile development and the DevOps model, in which development and production work go hand in hand, were brought up during the consulting phase.
“Although we mainly focused on traditional SOA integration in the actual delivery project, we also talked to the consultants about future trends, such as API management and cloud integration. We wanted to ensure that we're prepared for these as well.”
Varma first made use of the DevOps model during the integration platform change project. Digia’s experts were on hand to help with its introduction.
“Digia's personnel had clearly mastered the DevOps approach and were able to implement it to full effect.”
Thanks to these positive experiences, the DevOps approach can now be seen in Varma's other projects. Although the DevOps model can be used to make cost savings, its primary goal is to achieve continual development and maintain an up-to-date integration centre.
“With the aid of the DevOps model, we can keep the wheels of development turning and make sure that our activities and technology will no longer get outdated,” Asuja says.
“The benefits will also be clearly visible to our customers. An agile operating model will enable us to accelerate service development and make new services available to our customers more quickly. For example, we immediately started building our new Pension Estimate Calculator service on top of our oven-fresh platform, and our customers are already using it.”
The consulting and actual platform change project were separate tenders, but Varma ended up choosing Digia for both.
“In both the consulting and the project itself, we found Digia to be quite simply a profound expert. Digia has become a sufficiently large company, but has retained its agility,” says Asuja.
He adds that Digia's expertise became very apparent as the project progressed.
“Digia had a top-notch team and the project really was implemented in an agile manner. We didn't encounter any problems that could not have been solved one way or another. This generated great team spirit. We felt truly invincible,” says Asuja, proudly.
He says that trust and transparency were the keys to this smooth cooperation.
“I was looking for partners with whom we could broach and openly discuss things from both sides. And we succeeded in this, as cooperation was very smooth both at management and operational level.”