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Insurance: Azure data warehouse strategy and design

Insurance: Azure data warehouse strategy and design 11/08/2019

Assuring an international insurance firm’s Azure data warehouse strategy and design.

Expert Thinking supported an international insurance company in their migration from a legacy on-premise Oracle solution to an Azure data warehouse and analytics solution.

The consulting engagement has supported their journey through a number of discrete work packages, focusing on ensuring specific functional and non-functional requirements have been met and ensuring architectural best practice, extensibility to support future requirements, and integration with their new transactional systems.

Our support has accelerated delivery at lower risk to the customer, with assurance that the design meets their immediate requirements whilst being extensible for future growth.

THE CHALLENGE

The customer was constrained by its legacy data warehouse and analytics solution and recognised the need for a new solution but did not have the necessary in-house knowledge and expertise.  Specific challenges faced by the customer included:

  • The existing solution was built on an on-premise Oracle data warehouse, running legacy end of life hardware
  • The solution no longer aligned with the organisation’s transactional system architecture, was difficult and expensive to maintain
  • Presented significant cost challenges for both the platform licensing and hardware services.
  • Lack of expertise to take on the end to end design and development – requiring support in architecture, platform technology analysis and associated cloud services required to ensure the core data remained secure, compliant and available

The customer recognised a move to a cloud-based solution would not only meet the business’ short-term needs but also be flexible to meet the evolving needs of the business in the future.

Expert Thinking was asked to provide strategic and technical advisory support, working closely with key IT stakeholders covering solution architecture, technical support and guidance on key platform, design and implementation methods.

THE SOLUTION

Through a number of short-term engagements Expert Thinking has provided subject matter expertise as and when required by the customer, focusing on the following areas:

  • Platform strategy and service definition (agreeing which tools to use from the Azure service portfolio), cost considerations and service strategy alignment.
  • Data warehouse design approach, supporting how the existing Oracle warehouse can be migrated to the new services, including ETL design best practice.
  • Integration with the customers SDLC, covering off DevOps principles.
  • SSIS and ADF configuration
  • ETL/ELT development support, defining, with the client, best practice and associated “templates”
  • Azure Data Factory, SSIS, DR and redundancy options, design and configuration, and Analysis Services

“Expert Thinking has significantly contributed to our confidence in moving to the cloud by reviewing our approaches and design as well as providing technical input and practical support, helping focus us on areas of value, where it would be easy to be overwhelmed by the vast amount of options and information available in the cloud arena.”

THE RESULTS

Our approach has enabled the customer to avoid many of the potential pitfalls that organisations encounter when moving to cloud data services and accelerate delivery of a fit-for-purpose Azure data services solution.  Specific outcomes achieved through our involvement include:

  • Reduced risks relating to warehouse design and increased confidence in the success of a complex migration from Oracle to Azure.
  • Increased velocity of change, removing or reducing time spent on PoCs and pilots, with reduced overall cost of development.
  • Cost optimised service – utilising only those specific services required.
  • Clear direction/support on ETL development approach.
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