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How HDFC Life used cloud to extract timely reports for its teams

How HDFC Life used cloud to extract timely reports for its teams
Photo Credit: Pixabay
4 Aug, 2022
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Last year, HDFC Life, a private life insurance company, was faced with a major hurdle. The in-house teams were not getting their daily reports on time, which was impacting the decision-making process.  

“With a large enterprise data warehouse that manages sales, operations and financial reporting, HDFC Life was facing major performance issues that hampered financial reporting. In short, we were experiencing delays in extract, transform, load (ETL) processes that failed to prepare data models in a timely fashion,” Sunil Jain, chief architect and executive vice president, HDFC Life, explained. According to him, ETL jobs initiated at midnight were taking more than 12 hours to finish, which was impacting the daily decision-making process. 

ETL processes help enterprises prepare data models for timely daily reporting and are critical to the functioning of specific teams. Jain explained that staff who arrived at work in the morning had to wait for long to analyse data and do the reporting, which impacted user satisfaction. The situation became critical towards the end of 2021 financial close.

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It was then that HDFC Life decided it was time to move from its on-premises infrastructure to a high-performance cloud solution. To ensure that the process runs smoothly with increased scale, reliability and to meet timelines and expectations there was a need to leverage the cloud instead of on-premise infrastructure. “We preferred a managed service, with linked Service Level Agreements (SLAs) that can offer greater reliability, functionality and user experience to execute our complex models,” Jain said.  

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HDFC Life adopted Oracle Exadata Database Service on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) — a solution that allows customers to run Oracle Database in Oracle Cloud Infrastructure for this purpose of getting higher performance, storage, and faster compute for the software stack. The result: the company has accelerated its reporting by over 48% thereby improving its business efficiency, user experience and its overall performance, according to Jain.  

Since the company was running on-premises Oracle Exadata X3, HDFC Life, it decided to take the path of migrating to Oracle Exadata Database Service on OCI after a quick pilot project. “Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), the initial system integrator of HDFC Life’s Exadata X3 data warehouse on-premises, carried out the migration to OCI,” he informed.  

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“It was a four-month-long project, very high on details and risk mitigations with daily updates and weekly governance,” said Jain, who noted that “managing the large data migration from on-premise to cloud, rewiring data integrations to multiple data sources, vulnerability assessment and penetration testing and clearance from information security were the initial deployment challenges when transitioning from on-premise to cloud”.   

“While those challenges were short-lived, the insurer saw an improvement across its ETL job loads, allowing business users to perform faster queries on the corporate data warehouse,” said Jain. He added that the new solution not only helped HDFC Life gain a 48% improvement across all ETL job loads, allowing business users to perform faster queries on the corporate data warehouse, but the speed for overnight processing jobs also went up by 40%, giving data analysts more agility to make decisions,” he noted.    

Jain added that “OCI’s speed of processing and maximum availability shortened ETL job runs by up to six hours, providing analysts with access to critical data at the very start of the working day, with a considerable boost to satisfaction and to business efficiency.”    

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Further, the datasets used for management reporting are now available 57% earlier than on-premises. Backup time dropped by 66%, from 24 hours to 8 hours, after migrating the on-premises RMAN backup to Oracle Exadata Database Service’s built-in cloud storage, with weekly and daily backups.    

“Customers now expect quicker and more effective service than ever before. It is imperative that insurance companies harness digital solutions to understand their customers better and innovate effectively,” Kapil Makhija, vice president -technology cloud at Oracle India.  

Sanchit Vir Gogia, chief analyst, founder & CEO of Greyhound Research, said that the insurance sector has undergone massive change during the pandemic, as both its business and selling model moved online. “In addition to cost and other complexities, the need to actualise this model has led organisations to pursue cloud that offers the much-needed agility and supports enterprise-grade workloads,” Gogia said, adding that there’s however, a growing realisation that one cloud type alone doesn't cut it anymore. Hence, choosing the best-suited cloud by the workload is driving a multi-cloud, hybrid-cloud strategy.    

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The cloud service model is projected to total about $2.4 billion in 2022, an increase of 40% from the previous year, said a November 2021 report by analyst firm Gartner. “We'll see more CIOs working with software vendors to use their SaaS and other cloud options to ensure a continuum with current investments,” said Gogia.    

Going forward, HDFC Life further plans to move to Oracle Database 19c by the end of 2022 and to upgrade its entire software stack for greater performance, scalability and availability.  He also said that Blockchain is another area the company is bullish on. “Given its functionality of building in transparency in transactions, we are exploring it through a pilot in claims management,” Jain said.