Linux boosts fortunes at Reliance Mutual

A change from a proprietary ICL mainframe and Sequent Unix system to Solaris and Linux has played a crucial role in turning...

A change from a proprietary ICL mainframe and Sequent Unix system to Solaris and Linux has played a crucial role in turning around the fortunes of Kent-based insurance firm Reliance Mutual.

Due to a slowdown in the insurance market, Reliance Mutual went through a major cost-cutting exercise, shutting down 20 branch offices and its direct sales force, with the loss of 320 staff. Now, thanks to the restructuring and a change in its IT strategy, the insurer is taking on new business from independent financial advisors.

Reliance Mutual has replaced its ICL and Sequent systems with Sun equipment and Linux-based PC servers. Adrian James, IT director at Reliance Mutual, said the move away from mainframes was an important factor in helping to keep the business afloat as maintenance on the mainframes was costing £1m a year. For example, "The cost of purchasing memory on ICL is much higher than lower-spec Sun machines," he said.

Reliance Mutual used MicroFocus Cobol to move the core mainframe insurance application onto Sun E3000 and E250 servers that connect to an Ingres database. James said further savings were made by using shareware and Linux for subsidiary IT systems. Red Hat Linux is used to run the company's file server and internet name servers.

The company is also developing an intranet based on Apache and has previously rolled-out Linux to 200 desktops.

Linux for Business

Computer Weekly is sponsoring the Linux for Business conference running on 10 June at the Commonwealth Institute in London. Speakers include Martin Armitage, head of global IT strategy at Unilever, who will be talking about his company's Linux strategy.

www.netproject.co.uk/conference/lfb

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