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CASE STUDY:

Mirantis Helps Protector Forsikring Challenge Insurance Industry with Software Agility and Innovation

The Business

Founded in 2003, Protector Forsikring offers property, liability and fleet insurance for the commercial and public sectors in Scandinavia and the United Kingdom. Headquartered in Norway, the company is ranked first in Scandinavia in municipal insurance, and now serves more than 600 municipalities and county authorities. Protector Forsikring’s main goals are to achieve: cost and quality leadership, profitable growth, and a top three position in Protector’s defined business segments. The company prides itself as the challenger in a regional insurance market where industry heavyweights have been in business for hundreds of years.

Company

An Insurance Company in Rapid Growth

As a company in rapid growth and development, Protector Forsikring holds innovation as one of its core values. Over the years, the company built up a portfolio of business-critical applications, which they virtualized with VMware and ran on Windows IIS web servers in their on-premises data centers. These included monolithic, Java-based applications for managing insurance policies, handling claims and underwriting risks. As their application portfolio grew in complexity, the insurer felt it was time to revamp their software development and delivery processes to introduce microservices and containers.

“We weren’t developing any microservices yet, and we wanted to change the entire development architecture,” said Markus Pedersen, Sr. System Administrator at Protector Forsikring. ”We weren’t a startup any more, so a lot had to change.” This entailed standardizing the runtime for each application, isolating applications in terms of dependencies, reducing resource requirements for applications, and changing from stateful to stateless applications for more flexibility.

Besides for microservices, the company also wanted to adopt containers to facilitate continuous software delivery. “Moving over to containers would allow us to essentially deploy as many times as we wanted per day, so it would give our developers a lot more freedom,” Pedersen remarked. The company employs a team of 40 in IT, including 30 developers.

Additionally, Protector Forsikring wanted to eliminate infrastructure issues they were experiencing with traditional virtualization. “The main problems were the scalability and the amount of servers. We were running three to four virtual machines to host several applications, and they could interrupt each other,” Pedersen said. “Going over to a container with a microservice architecture helps lessen the impact of the applications on each other.”

Protector Forsikring app for reporting insurance claims

Migrating to Containers and Microservices

Protector Forsikring began breaking down its large monolithic applications into microservices and putting them into containers. Because they wrote the majority of their applications in Java, with some in Node.js and Python, migrating most of them required only slight rewrites. As the number of containers and services grew, they needed an orchestrator to manage it all and chose Swarm due to its simplicity, which enabled rapid onboarding with new hires.

“We deploy many times per day to test environments, and we have the capability to also deploy to production at the same rate, during business hours everyday if we want to, with little downtime of the applications.”

Magnus Reisaeter, Sr. System Administrator at Protector Forsikring

After using open source Docker Swarm for three years, Protector Forsikring wanted enterprise support, which they obtained through Docker Enterprise (now Mirantis Kubernetes Engine), an enterprise container platform that features both Swarm and Kubernetes orchestration. Mirantis offers the platform with a range of SLAs, including OpsCare 24x7x365 proactive support, which features continuous monitoring and automated alerting to maximize production uptime. The insurer is also using Mirantis Container Runtime to run and manage container components.

Besides Mirantis Kubernetes Engine, Protector Forsikring is also using GitHub Actions, Jira, Confluent for Kafka, SQL Server, MongoDB, and Elasticsearch for software development, delivery and operations.

In 2022, the company began transitioning to Kubernetes because it has a much larger community as the industry-leading container orchestrator.

Improved Scalability, Agility and Security

After adopting microservices, containers, and continuous delivery, Protector Forsikring now has increased scalability and agility. 

“We deploy many times per day to test environments, and we have the capability to also deploy to production at the same rate, during business hours everyday if we want to, with little downtime of the applications,” said Magnus Reisaeter, Sr. System Administrator at Protector Forsikring.

Containers provide isolation between applications, preventing them from interrupting each other as with VMs. The company currently deploys 120 microservices and 10 applications in production. 

Mirantis Kubernetes Engine has also improved security by providing better control over developer permissions. “We use the MKE platform to enable our developers to have insight into the environment, so they can check on their services and containers and restart them, without giving them direct access to the server hosts, which we had to before,” Pedersen said.

Additionally, enterprise support with Mirantis Kubernetes Engine gives the IT team peace of mind, knowing that if something goes wrong, they have a support mechanism in place. Overall, Pedersen has been satisfied with the quality of support from Mirantis. “When we have contacted Mirantis support, they have been quite quick and technically competent,” he remarked.

As Protector Forsikring proceeds with migrating workloads from Swarm to Kubernetes, the company also appreciates having Mirantis Professional Services available to assist with the transition. After migration, the company will start exploring what’s possible with Kubernetes, as it continues to innovate cost-effective solutions for the insurance market.

CHALLENGES

  • Migrate from large, monolithic applications to microservices and containers

  • Increase agility by facilitating continuous software delivery

  • Boost scalability and eliminate resource issues of sharing VMs

SOLUTION

  • Mirantis Kubernetes Engine with Swarm and Kubernetes orchestration

  • Mirantis enterprise support SLA

  • GitHub Actions, Jira, Kafka, SQL Server, MongoDB, and Elasticsearch

RESULTS

  • Greater agility with continuous delivery and the ability to deploy multiple times per day

  • Improved scalability and performance with container isolation between applications

  • Increased security with better control over developer permissions

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