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ORACLE PLUS - 11/12/2013

Oracle’s Exadata Power at the Heart of Insurance Operations

Our Directors Bülent Geçkin and Nevzat Koldemir shared the details of “Exadata Transition” with Oracle PLUS Magazine

Insurance Information and Supervision Center (IIC) founded its new technological infrastructure, which will contribute to the development of the insurance industry and bring to life numerous innovative services that emphasize features that will benefit the citizens, on the Exadata system.

Mr. Geçkin, can you please give us information about your institution? What needs of the sector Insurance Information and Supervision Center (IIC) has been founded to meet? And when was it founded?
BÜLENT GEÇKİN (Director of IT Services, Insurance Information and Supervision Center): Our center was established in 2003 under the name “Tramer” (Liability insurances Center) in order to create a common database for all liability insurance policies and the accident information recorded in these policies to allow easy and quick access to such information. This structure which aims sharing of information, records insurance and accident information and which is easily accessible, brought about numerous benefits both the insurers and insured alike. With the insurance information being accessible from a single platform, it became easier to access detailed data on accident and risk information. In summary, it became a center whereby liability insurance policies can be tracked, and transferred and citizens can have instant access to accident, expert and policy information easily.
With an amendment made to the bylaw in 2008, its name was changed to Insurance Information and Supervision Center (IIC). With the same bylaw, Tramer was converted into a sub-unit within IIC and its range of services was expanded with the addition of other service areas such as Health Insurance, Life Insurance and Accident Tracking Sub-Centers. Today, in addition to information on liability insurance, data on comprehensive coverage and all categories under Health Insurances are collected at our center. Apart from this, we’re developing projects for insurance products, which are not mandatory as well, and we’re transferring them to our center. In this regard, as an example for the big projects in 2014, we can talk about the Fire products. With the amendment made in 2011, the range of services provided by our center was expended and our center’s name was changed to Insurance Information and Supervision Center. Our center was defined by law and the insurance companies are our members. Using the data we generate, the insurance companies can make better risk analyses and make policy offers to their customers at more reasonable prices.

Do all insurance policies arrive online at your system regardless of their company of origin?
BÜLENT GEÇKİN: The number of products for which we have “online data transfer” increases every day. We’re planning to be able to receive data related to all our products online by the end of 2014. For example, our service related to comprehensive coverage will start with the new year. Well what does it mean? Let’s say you went to an insurance agent or called the call center of an insurance center. When you write your name during policy creation, Mernis will make an inquiry via our system and when your vehicle plate number is entered, it will retrieve the chassis number of your vehicle from the database of the Ministry of Transportation. When you go for a vehicle inspection, the updated information about your vehicle will be transferred to our database.

Can you give us examples of the benefits that such a system would provide to our citizens?
BÜLENT GEÇKİN: First of all, for the citizens, this is a platform that allows them to use their right to access information. Citizens can always retrieve information using their ID numbers and vehicle license plate numbers. Apart from that, we’re creating a significant benefit on the side of travel insurances. As you know most consulates make it mandatory to have an insurance policy before you can get a visa from them. When we talk about travel insurances, we’re talking about a 50 million TL market. In the past, some businesses located close to consulates that were selling counterfeit insurance products were detected and closed down. One can’t realize if an insurance product is fake or not unless he/she uses it, but once it is realized it can cause serious problems for the user. So we initiated a new process related to fake insurance products and enabled the insurance companies to send their health insurance policies in real time. As a result, both the citizens and the consulates can now verify if a certain insurance product is real or counterfeit. This way, with the help of a simple project, we’re now able to prevent counterfeit insurance products in the sector.

Is there any other center like yours in the world?
BÜLENT GEÇKİN: Because centers like ours are few in the world, we have frequent visits from officials from other countries who want to review our system to adopt it in their own countries. For example we hosted officials from Azerbaijan where liability insurance is not mandatory. And most recently, we hosted officials from the Central Bank of Azerbaijan and Insurance Institute of France. And we frequently go to Europe to give training about this system. Because there are only a few other examples in the world like ours which can handle this system in real time as we do.

Your institution seems to be positioned as a technology company. How do you see it?
BÜLENT GEÇKİN: Total value of policies generated by the Turkish insurance sector last year was 20 billion TL. And this year, this figure is expected to grow by 20% and reach 26 billion TL. And coming to your question, Insurance Information and Supervision Center is a data processing company owned by a holding company with a total value of 26 billion TL. It is also a structure where business and technology works in harmony.
With the goal of founding a structure that allows data management in the real sense, Insurance Information and Supervision Center has been going through a huge transition since 2011. IT Services Directorate was founded with this purpose and other sub units such as the System Network Management, Database Management, System Operation Division and IT Security Risk divisions were formed. We’re going through a constant process of development with all teams of ICC.

You said your institution has been given the role of supervision as well in 2011. What does it mean exactly?
BÜLENT GEÇKİN: It definitely doesn’t mean inspection. It means compiling and reporting statistical information regarding the insurance sector to be able to make forecasts. At this point, we introduced our data warehouse system. Our goal is to allow the whole sector to make use of these systems and to contribute to the development of the sector.

You recently acquired an Exadata Database System and you also invested in certain Oracle technologies. Which needs did you address with these investments and what were your goals before you made these investment decisions?
BÜLENT GEÇKİN: We already had a business intelligence and database infrastructure but it wasn’t working as a data warehouse yet. We decided we needed to come up with new projects on the Business Intelligence side in order to be able to develop new services and we expanded our team first of all by establishing a Business Intelligence Directorate.
We developed our main software products in-house within our Software Development Directorate. Our Java-based software operates on Oracle Database 11g. In order to be able to realize our goals on the business intelligence side, we decided to use the Data Warehouse technology of Oracle and to invest in infrastructure that would work seamlessly with Oracle Database 11g. What we had in hand were conventional systems that were not integrated. We thought about investing in a new comprehensive system that would allow us to meet multiple needs at a time including warehousing areas. During that period, we reviewed different alternatives. While deciding on Exadata, we reviewed its practices in Turkey and the world and we saw that there were quite successful examples. We spared quite a lot of time for research and review. Finally, for the last 3 months, we’ve been running our business intelligence and data warehousing software on the Exadata system. We also have the OLTP side which includes the web services we offer to insurance companies and we transferred that as well to the Exadata system.

Data Warehouse technology of Oracle and the Exadata infrastructure plays a critical role in the process for converting our existing business intelligence infrastructure to a data warehousing system. With our team of experts with significant amount of knowledge accumulation about Oracle technologies, we aim to make use of this technology in the best way and to create innovative services for our users.

Has this new system created benefit for your other projects as well?
BÜLENT GEÇKİN: Apart from these, we received the best response to our expectations to commission the Emergency Center in Ankara in the fastest way possible, from Exadata as well. We feed this system that we established in Ankara, again using Oracle technologies, from Istanbul via the Exadata system in the fastest way. We can feed our system in Ankara in real time thanks to our Oracle Data Guard system.

As the IT team, what benefits do you expect from this infrastructure?
BÜLENT GEÇKİN: As the IT Service Directorate, there are three duties we’ve given to our team members: “Uninterrupted”, “Quality” and “Secure” service. Exadata is a product that can meet all three of these needs. It was designed to work flawlessly in an integrated manner. Service quality of the infrastructure never goes down, it works with high performance and is scalable. It passed all the tests we conducted. We had aimed 5 times of our current workload and Exadata can handle 20 times of it. Most importantly, it is physically robust and it is more secure in terms of data security. And Oracle Audit Vault and Database FireWall are the technologies we trust on the security side. And because they are integrated systems, they don’t have any maintenance costs. Plus, Oracle offers an “advanced monitoring” service which can be controlled from abroad. Just to test the system, we unplugged some of the devices, not the main system of course, and we received alarms from abroad in five minutes and they called back to see if there was a fault in the system. Their systems work so well. So we have great confidence in this infrastructure which we expect to have a greater load as our service range will increase in the future.

In which areas do you use the Test Data Management (TDM) which is another Oracle product and the Oracle Data Integrator (ODI) tool?
NEVZAT KOLDEMİR (Software Development and Business Intelligence Director, ICC): Testing automation will be providing the logistics support that allows the insurance companies to develop products rapidly. When they commission a new product, insurance companies request test data from us. We need to create the SQLs related to the test data in question and carry out some related work to provide them the data they need. Currently we write test automation manually and the test process is generically a manual process anyway. And the Test Data Management system offered by Oracle facilitates and accelerates this process by allowing us to define rules. And we are doing our best to commission this project as soon as possible in order to help facilitate the operations in the sector. Coming to the ODI tool; in the past, we were using an open-source code ETL tool for data transmission to the database. But now we’re using ODI for this purpose and we made net gains by doing so. Before, data transmission from the main system to the Data Warehouse via ETL used to take 8 hours and when there was an error in the system we had to wait another 8 hours to complete the process. Every morning around 10 am we send a daily report to the whole sector. So we had to use this 8 hours during the night. When there was an error in the system, we could send the report only late in the afternoon and there were times we couldn’t send a report for a particular day. Now with ODI, this duration has come down to one and a half hours which means around 4 times timesavings. And because we were already using Oracle technologies, our transition to ODI has been quite smooth and fast as well. And from now on, when we need to send a different report, we will be able to give this service within a very short amount of time.

How do you think all this transition will reflect to the users’ side?
BÜLENT GEÇKİN: With this new structure, we’re trying to increase the number of services we provide to our citizens. We founded a system that allows them to retrieve data without even having to remember which company their policies were from. We allow them to make inquiries using two parameters in addition to their ID numbers. When making an inquiry about the vehicles, using the registration number and the chassis number allows rapid access to information.
Under the leadership of our Solutions Development Director K.Tufan Tekin, we’re now designing and developing numerous projects that would benefit both the sector and our customers.
We also provide expert appointment services. Citizens can now appoint their own experts. In case of an accident, the user can track the accident report written by the expert as well as the details of the accident damage. There’s no need to call the insurance company. Similar services are available for health and life insurances as well. We provide maximum data security while providing these services to our citizens.
In cities where the insurance companies are located, we publish liability insurance premiums based on the vehicle use trends in that particular city. As a result, our citizens can have an idea as to what premium they would pay for liability insurance.
Apart from these, we’re working on different projects under the guidance of our Center General Manager Aydın Bey with the goal of developing numerous innovative services. Ultimately, this entire infrastructure will be at the froe front with its reflections on the citizens as well.

Mr. KOLDEMİR, as the Software Development Director of the center, you’re also managing a big team of experts that comprise Oracle developers. Can you please tell us about the transition phase to Oracle Exadata? What are the benefits brought about by this transition?
NEVZAT KOLDEMİR: Our former data warehousing system was based on Oracle Database 11g as well. When we first started our search for suitable hardware, we realized that Exadata was ahead of its competitors in the price/performance dimension with its X3 version.

When we acquired Exadata, we knew that it would be a smooth transition and return on investment would be rather quick as the database was going to remain the same. And that happened to be the case. We set up our systems and completed the whole transition within as short as 3 months by using Oracle Data Integrator. With the current system, we retrieve data directly form the source via ODI and transfer it to Exadata and all transformation and “load” processes happened very quickly via Exadata. Without conducting and prior performance work, currently the whole process takes only one and a half hours when we just use ODI to create and run the software packages.
Our previous data warehousing system was a single-node system. And we had to shut down the system when we did patching. But now we switched to RAC architecture which allows us to provide uninterrupted service. When we are to do patching, we can do so by shutting down nodes one by one and turning them back on after patching is finished in each of them. In the mean time, the system runs non-stop 24/7 without any interruption.
On the other hand, another important feature of Exadata is that it can compress any data up to 20 times, which is very important for us. Currently we’ve made one-to-one copies of all data. We haven’t complied any of the data but we’ll be archiving them on the tables over time.
The new system also speeded up report creation times up to 10 times compared to the old system and now we can create all reports automatically on Exadata. It is the Smart Scan feature of Exadata that allowed us create reports with such speed.
Exadata saves us a great deal of time and we now have an infrastructure that provides uninterrupted service. The support we couldn’t previously get due to use of open-source ETC tool, we can now get it from Oracle after the transition to ODI. We also make use of the global maintenance services offered by Oracle. We also have the local Oracle Consultancy team always with us as part of our agreements with the company.

Can you please tell us about your new services on the data warehousing side?
NEVZAT KOLDEMİR: According to research conducted by Gartner, top agenda item of CIOs is analytical business intelligence and the second important agenda item is the mobile platforms. Next year, we’ll be focusing on mobile platforms and we’re developing a new application for this purpose. All the query services we provide over the internet, we’ll be providing them on the mobile platform and in a manner that would provide support for three major markets (IOS, Android and MS). We also have another project that will allow users to view the reports they retrieved from the data warehouse on their tablets. Development phase for that as well has been completed and it’s now being tested. This will allow users to retrieve all our reports by using just the browser on their tablets.
Looking at the business intelligence side, I can say that our goal is to further develop this system which currently operates close to real-time. Currently we retrieve and convert and then upload data once a day but we can actually do it more often during one day. In the next step maybe, we’ll be able to create a real-time data warehouse using Oracle products or maybe the newly developed products on the ODI side.
We also wish to provide a control panel service to the managers of the insurance sector at the Undersecretariat of the Treasury as well as the general managers of insurance companies. This control panel would allow them to see the overall picture of the sector, do analyses that would allow them to make forecasts and compare their companies with the overall sector. This will be an In-Memory control panel project.
During the system acquisition process, we also received an 80-day consultancy service from Oracle Consultancy. We wish to develop a common data model for the insurance sector that would set an example for the overall sector. It will be a long-term project because we need to develop data dictionary for all branches.

Can you please comment on customer satisfaction a little bit?
BÜLENT GEÇKİN: With its managers, consultants and technical team, Oracle provided great support at all levels.
We’re working in close cooperation with the solution partners of Oracle as well. we’re being instructed on all Oracle products at all levels. So we’re glad to be a part of the Oracle ecosystem.

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