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Standard Life saves almost £16m with SOA

Nov. 12, 2007

Thanks to SOA (service-oriented architecture) Standard Life has saved almost £16m in development costs in the three years since it embarked on a program to develop and reuse software modules.

Overall, Standard Life has more than 200 applications in development that are making use of its code library, which now has 440 available services. There have now been more than 1,200 instances of reuse in its SOA program.

The monetary savings Standard Life acknowledges to have made comes from counting every instance of reuse of a service and putting a standard value on that service.

The insurance company has an IT staff of about one-thousand, split roughly equally between development and service roles. The program of reuse has allowed it to reduce the turnaround time on its IT projects, enabling it to take on more projects without the need to add more IT staff.

Group technology director Russell Irwin said that since 2005 the provision of SOA services for Standard Life’s development teams has grown sharply, from 70 consuming applications to over 200 used this year.

Derek Ireland, who is in charge of the insurer’s IT architecture, said that many of the insurer’s key strategic products were now making use of this SOA capability.

Ireland added “we have an executable framework on top of which we deliver applications. Within this we provide SOA services, and the framework also provides other pooling and development efficiencies."

Ireland said the other key benefit of SOA was that it enabled the company to maintain numerous “heritage” databases by adding consistent front-end functionality to get the best out of reliable, stable systems that might otherwise need replacing.

Irwin said “the pensions business is necessarily a long-term business, which means we have applications that support products with a long shelf life. We can make functionality available through the SOA that means we don’t have to make wholesale changes without a strong case being made.”

“We don’t have a wholesale migration process under way but where there is a business case and a need to provide multi-channel capability the SOA and the framework for our developers gives us options,” said Irwin.

He added that the approach takes pressure off the legacy agenda, and migration projects can happen at the right time and for the right reasons.

Standard Life’s IT infrastructure includes Intel and AIX mid-range boxes and IBM mainframes, and uses databases including Oracle and IBM's DB2.

Source: Standard Life

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