Irish Life Delivers Cost Savings and Productivity Gains through Application Modernization Program with Micro Focus

30 May 2013

The Irish Life Group, Ireland’s leading life and pensions company, has successfully completed the first phase of its modernization program by rehosting its mainframe on-line and batch applications to a Windows environment using software from Micro Focus (LSE: MCRO.L), the leading provider of enterprise application modernization, testing and management solutions. The three year investment program has reduced operating expenses by up to 80%, delivered productivity gains and improved agility for future innovation.

Irish Life employs more than 2,000 staff and serves over a million customers in Ireland with risk protection, pensions, savings and investment products. In 2010, the Irish Life IT team reviewed its insurance systems application portfolio as part of a Group-wide cost-saving initiative, and chose to implement Micro Focus Enterprise Developer and Enterprise Server. The solution enabled the company to optimize its operating environment, moving applications from a mainframe to a Windows server environment to take advantage of the contemporary architecture and its associated flexibility and possible cost savings.

Commenting on the results of the deployment, Barry Ryan, Chief Technical Architect at Irish Life said: “By moving to a different platform better suited to our needs we have reduced operating expenses, increased responsiveness to the business, and realized improved efficiencies. Productivity gains include completing key batch processes in 25% of their original runtime, which gives us additional flexibility around business operating hours, reduces the need for out-of-hours cover and removes the risk of early morning system unavailability. Problem solving has also improved. Developers working in the new environment are spotting and locating issues much faster with the new, intuitive, visual programming technology.”

“Looking beyond efficiency savings, we wanted to access a range of language options including the flexibility to intermingle legacy COBOL with other .NET languages to get the best of both worlds – contemporary technologies integrated with tried and trusted mainframe application code,” added Dave Cooper, Retail IT Architect at Irish Life. “We use Microsoft Visual Studio for everything we do in different languages and using a consistent Integrated Developer Environment (IDE) framework for our COBOL applications via the Micro Focus solution means our whole development team is delivering higher quality code in shorter timeframes. We chose Micro Focus because in our research, the company came up again and again as the platform of choice for business application management, offering excellent legacy COBOL systems compatibility.”

Irish Life’s key insurance systems had intellectual property captured in over three million lines of COBOL code, which meant reusing its existing code was a safer, more stable option than the alternative re-write or packaged application options. Reusing its COBOL code also meant the company retained its subject matter experts, so its IT team could perform most of the modernization and optimization work themselves. In addition, reusing COBOL within the Visual Studio IDE framework made up skilling Irish Life’s team of 26 Life Administration developers simpler, plus it has been easier to attract new talent, with no previous COBOL experience into the team.

“Irish Life wanted to modernize IT applications platforms and processes to help with long term cost management. Importantly, they also wanted to ensure they were competitive, cost-effective and agile enough to support current and future business demands,” said Kevin Brearley, Senior Director of Product Management at Micro Focus. “Our solution has delivered their modernization strategy – on time and within budget. This will prepare Irish Life for the future, whilst mitigating risk by making minimal changes to their existing applications as they were transitioned to Windows.”

About Micro Focus

Micro Focus, a member of the FTSE 250, provides innovative software that allows companies to dramatically improve the business value of their Enterprise applications. Micro Focus Enterprise Application Modernization, Testing and Management software enables customers' business applications to respond rapidly to market changes and embrace modern architectures with reduced cost and risk. For additional information please visit

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