NJM Insurance Group

NJM’s DevOps Odyssey: Staying Competitive and Maintaining Compliance Through Release Automation

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The Challenge

As New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Group (NJM) upgraded core technology platforms, they looked to accelerate software delivery in order to align delivery practices with business demands for upgraded solutions. With their volume and cadence of work increasing, they quickly reached their limits as they tried to scale their entirely manual software deployment processes.

Maintaining and demonstrating compliance – without introducing more painful manual processes – was also a top concern for this large insurance company. NJM needed a reliable way to streamline software deployments and at the same time ensure compliance controls were maintained. Their ultimate goal was to automate the release of high-quality software while reducing complexities and minimizing overhead.

There is a lot more going on in the new world than the old world. We didn’t need another problem. We needed a solution, and that was the XebiaLabs DevOps Platform.
- Vito Iannuzzelli, Assistant VP of IT, NJM

The Solution

NJM successfully implemented deployment automation with XebiaLabs, which accelerated and standardized software delivery processes while helping them more easily demonstrate compliance. This initiative reduced operational overhead and streamlined deployment processes so NJM could scale.


The Environment

  • VMware tc-Server (Tomcat)
  • Java and .NET
  • Informatica
  • DataPower with DP Buddy
  • Microsoft Enterprise SQL Server
  • Microsoft Team Foundation Server
  • Dynatrace (APM)
  • HP / NeoLoad
  • IIS
  • Delphix
  • XL Deploy
  • XL Release

Results

  • Reduced deployment times dramatically
    Non-production deployment - from days to minutes
    Production deployments - 30%-50% faster
  • 1,000-1,500+ deployments per month through automation with XebiaLabs
    Three years ago, all releases were handled manually
  • Continuous, scheduled, and self-service deployments
    Eliminated reliance on specially-skilled technicians to deploy software.
    QA, developers, and trainees are now handling deployments
  • No-hassle compliance
    Highly visible, zero-touch process that is fully traceable and auditable

A Clear Need for DevOps

NJM is a leading provider of affordable auto, homeowners, renters, commercial auto, umbrella, and workers’ compensation insurance in New Jersey. NJM was founded in 1913 and currently operates out of three locations with roughly 2,500 employees.

NJM has been on a technology transformation journey focused on replacing core business solutions and modernizing its infrastructure. With this shift, the pace of work has dramatically accelerated, which has increased complexities: greater number of deployments, geographically distributed teams, agile development practices, competing priorities, and more. Solution complexity has risen as well, driven by composite applications and a growing number of interdependencies.

The team wanted to look at how they could move code more efficiently and address audit requirements. The number of environments had increased to more than 100. At the same time, NJM experienced considerable growth in the number of deployments necessary (1,000+ per month, all handled manually). To handle this rising complexity, NJM turned to DevOps. One of their first efforts was deployment automation. “There is a lot more going on in the new world than the old world. We didn’t need another problem. We needed a solution, and that was the XebiaLabs DevOps Platform,” stated Vito Iannuzzelli, the Assistant VP of IT who was leading the DevOps charge.

"XebiaLabs increases everyone’s visibility into the overall process, from Dev to Ops to product owners to management. We can now do more with the same number of resources, and those resources do not require in-depth knowledge of the solution."

Goals for Deployment Automation

  • Accelerate and automate software delivery
  • Reduce operational overhead – lower total cost of ownership
  • Streamline end-to-end deployment
  • Manage the software lifecycle
  • Create a single system of record that spans from the minute a deployment is initiated to the minute it is completed... in a repeatable process
  • Enforce control and gain visibility to more easily meet audit and compliance requirements

NJM's Journey

As NJM focused on deployment automation as one of their first DevOps initiatives, they found it would address many of the challenges they were facing. They looked for a tool with very specific criteria:

  • Ability to build and deploy environmentally agnostic solutions
  • Single framework for all technology deployments
  • Simple and intuitive• Extensible• Deployment flexibility(continuous, scheduled, self-service)
  • Integration support(Web Service, REST, Batch)
  • Feature rich “Out of the Box” technology support
  • Auditable

“We looked at several products, vetted them, got agreement and support, and ultimately chose XebiaLabs,” said Vito. NJM began implementing the XL Deploy product to automate deployments to their various environments. With XL Deploy, they are able to build highly scalable, model-based processes, making it easier to add new platforms and replicate deployments. Deployment processes are also now standardized, required steps are enforced, and logs are automatically captured so that compliance and audit requirements are easy to meet.

“We started using XebiaLabs almost three years ago and haven’t looked back. Its ease of use has opened up deployments to many more people in the organization, which gives teams the option for self-service deployments. And it increases everyone’s visibility into the overall process, from Dev to Ops to product owners to management.

“We can now do more with the same number of resources, and those resources do not require in-depth knowledge of the solution or the same level of expertise required in the past. People who have never done a deployment are doing them now – including our QA team,” Vito continued.

"Since implementing XebiaLabs, we have realized a very low total cost of ownership with a high ROI. It really delivers the value."

NJM reached a very mature level of deployment just 6 months later and is expanding the use of XL Deploy beyond traditional use cases to scale processes across the board. “XebiaLabs is a well-integrated platform with no frills. It is the Swiss army knife of DevOps – everything you need without any of the unnecessary and confusing bells and whistles. It is a streamlined product that does what you need it to, every time. Since implementing XebiaLabs, we have realized a very low total cost of ownership with a high ROI. It really delivers the value.”

"I wanted to provide a single system of record of what happens from the minute we request a deployment until the minute it is completed – all in a repeatable way with visibility, control, and proper record keeping. With XebiaLabs, we have introduced a highly visible, zero-touch process that is fully traceable and auditable."

Audit and Compliance

NJM is nested firmly in the insurance industry, one that is highly regulated and audited yearly for compliance. Before adopting ITIL for Service Management and DevOps, Vito and his team had to rely on manual processes for responding to audit requests that validate entity wide controls. XebiaLabs filled a significant gap and not only enabled but enforced the need for consistent, reliable, repeatable, and traceable processes. The entire deployment process has become streamlined while eliminating the impact on resources. XebiaLabs provides easy access to the evidence required to satisfy audit controls as applications move from development through production. It ensures all steps are executed in the right order and tracked consistently.

“Auditing is an important step in all of our processes. With compliance being so prominent in the insurance industry, our goal is to bake controls into our solutions. The more we can incorporate a tool-based solution that automatically enforces repeatable processes and collects evidence, the more streamlined and efficient we can be as a team, noted Vito.

“I wanted to provide a single system of record of what happens from the minute we request a deployment until the minute it is completed – all in a repeatable way with visibility, control, and proper record keeping. With XebiaLabs, we have introduced a highly visible, zero-touch process that is fully traceable and auditable.”

Scaling Beyond

NJM is now doing anywhere from 1,000 to 1,500+ automated deployments per month with XL Deploy. They have reduced deployment times dramatically: non-production deployments have dropped from days to minutes, while production deployments happen 30-50% faster. “Hundreds of people depend on the functionality that XebiaLabs provides, and several new areas are interested in getting access to XL Deploy,” said Vito. “We have also reached a stage of enabling self-service within the organization.”

"If you’re looking to improve, accelerate and streamline your end-to-end software delivery, and enforce compliance requirements in a repeatable, auditable process, you want XebiaLabs."

“Now we’re shifting our focus from the deployment process to the overall software release pipeline. We’re moving beyond XL Deploy and into release orchestration, expanding further into the XebiaLabs DevOps Platform with XL Release,” said Vito. “We need a tool that automates our entire pipeline, not just deployments. XL Release provides end-to-end visibility, reporting, and control across all our tools. We expect XL Release to deliver the same benfits across the entire software release pipeline that we’ve seen for deployments.”

“As we continue to move applications to the XebiaLabs DevOps Platform, total cost of ownership continues to go down as productivity increases. If you’re looking to improve, accelerate and streamline your end-to-end software delivery, and enforce compliance requirements in a repeatable, auditable process, you want XebiaLabs.”