Benfield Group Case Study
Benfield Group revamped their production database process with JNetDirect Combine. It reduced errors, saved precious man-hours and allowed all team members to participate in the process.
As the world’s leading independent reinsurance and risk intermediary, Benfield offers a range of services associated with the structuring and execution of insurance, reinsurance and other forms of risk transfer.
As Benfield had trouble keeping its production database in sync across all 40+ servers that are currently responsible for serving complex CRM and ERP systems as well as custom applications in a global environment.
Benfield revamped their production database process with JNetDirect Combine. It reduced errors, saved precious man-hours and allowed all team members to participate in the process.
“Combine™ is the only tool currently available that allows you to process scripts across multiple connections in one pass. This feature alone saves us a lot of time, which has increased our service levels because we can provide accurate and consistent rollouts time and time again. We’re also no longer tied to one individual being the expert; anyone on the DBA team can deploy changes to all of our servers in one click and be confident that the rollout was processed successfully.”
Kevin R. Zakoski
Database Architect, Benfield Group
- Enterprise-grade reliability and scalability
- Ease of integration, no install costs
- Huge man-hour time savings
Country / Region
Benfield offers a range of services that assist the majority of the world’s insurance and reinsurance companies in the structuring and execution of insurance, reinsurance and other forms of risk transfer. Benfield has an international network of over 40 offices.
As Benfield expanded its business and reliance on its data, it had trouble keeping its production database in sync across all 40+ servers that are currently responsible for serving complex CRM and ERP systems as well as custom applications in a global environment.
Benfield chose Combine because it provided a clear solution to a complex data environment. Not only could Combine create a true ROI for the Benfield database team, it also reduced errors, streamlined complicated processes, and eliminated daily pain points.
Benfield has 40+ instances of SQL Server running across a global network containing terabytes of business-critical data. Prior to JNetDirect Combine™, Benfield’s database change and administration process was manual and overly time consuming. The main issues revolved around a manual rollout process of script execution. Considering the number of SQL servers and instances in the company’s IT network, database synchronization was not a viable way to push out changes. Moreover, running change scripts required that the DBA in charge had a complete understanding of the entire environment and knew which servers matched the appropriate script.
With 40+ servers to maintain, users needed to log into each server and manually execute each script, or alternatively use command line features that are provided with the native tools which lack visibility, transparency, and are not acceptable as an enterprise solution. The complexity of this IT environment created a painful and error prone process. In most cases, errors weren’t discovered until days later which made it difficult to know what script was missed, where, and why.
Additionally, because of the complexity associated with these tasks, the rollout process could only be managed by a handful of experts on Benfield’s team. Benfield sought a solution that was cost-effective, reduced rollout and management time requirements, eased the rollout process, and reduced the error-prone nature of its daily and weekly tasks.
Benfield needed to organize, track and execute scripts across a complex data environment. Benfield could develop proprietary software, or it could look for an off-the-shelf solution. Benfield did not want to support a proprietary system internally due to cost and maintenance constraints. Benfield initially experimented with other automated change management and synchronization tools however found that other products could not provide the flexibility, manageability, visibility and portability that are critical to DBAs and deployment/change managers.
Benfield found the JNEtDirect Combine solution ideal because it was the only solution that could execute scripts across multiple connections in one pass, while providing the user with complete real-time trail of messages and logging information. By using JNetDirect Combine’s™ dynamic containers feature, Benfield could generate a data store that automatically selected the servers and then applied the correct scripts depending on their configuration. Each of JNetDirect Combine’s™ dynamic containers is driven by a stored procedure that accepts a number of parameters. Once the parameters have been entered and executed, the result is a listing of databases and servers to which the changes will be applied. This alone solved the main issue of remembering which server received what type of change, but also passed the parameters entered into their scripts. Benfield could write one script and upon script execution apply the appropriate scheme change based on each unique server connection.
JNetDirect Combine™ not only helped Benfield build a database inventory to keep track of all its SQL servers, instances and databases, but also increased service levels because of consistency and reliable deployment. It also drastically reduced rollout change time. Most of Benfield’s rollouts occur afterhours and require an individual to log in and roll those changes in the evening.
Depending on the nature of the rollout, this could take a couple of hours to complete the manual process to get all servers in sync. By executing rollouts via JNetDirect Combine™, the process now only takes a few minutes and will eventually be completely automated. Additionally, by using the command line arguments Benfield believes it can eliminate the after-hours role of the individual.
JNetDirect Combine solved many of the issues experienced by the Benfield database administration team. Importantly, it solved change management and deployment problems experienced by Benfield. By reducing risk and increasing efficiency of its operations, Combine provided Benfield with a real return on their investment.
Specifically, Combine saved each member of Benfield’s team 3 hours per week for DBA time and 2 hours per rollout (average of twice a week), or a total of 49 hours a week.
Overall, Combine reduced man-hour time requirements, improved accountability, and made managing Benfield’s databases much easier.