Embrace the full potential of digitization and automation to improve customer services.
Build on proven partnership and adopt new, innovative technology for maximum performance.
Delivers new levels of storage performance, with throughput in excess of 10 million IOPS.
Increases effective storage capacity with 1.85:1 data deduplication and compression.
Supports strategic initiatives by enabling real-time analytics, machine learning and intelligent automation.
Maintains a record of outstanding quality, stability and performance in a relationship that has lasted more than 30 years.
Challenge: Delivering Faster Customer Service
Keeping Switzerland healthy is the mission of Suva, the Swiss National Accident Insurance Fund. Suva covers half of Switzerland’s employees and promotes public safety with wide-ranging accident prevention campaigns. The company’s positive impact is highlighted by nationwide statistics on occupational and leisure accidents, which have been declining continuously for many years.
Headquartered in Lucerne, Suva is governed by public law and plays a key role in Switzerland’s social security system. With over 4,200 employees and two rehabilitation clinics, Suva insures more than two million full-time employees at some 130,000 companies and handles almost 480,000 claims per year.
To maintain its high customer satisfaction ratings, the company decided to embark on a digitization journey. Christian Arn, Head of IT Infrastructure at Suva, says: “Our goal is to provide fast and efficient insurance and care management services. To respond faster to claims, we are digitizing and automating our manual case management processes.”
These efforts are part of Suva’s strategic and visionary smartCare program involving the expansion of collaborative ecosystems and using machine learning models for automated decision-making. To exploit the full potential of these new kind of applications, the company needs a flexible and scalable data storage platform.
Suva evaluated different storage architectures from five vendors to understand which solution would best fit its demanding data requirements. Brian Mathis, Team Lead Server & Storage Platform at Suva, explains: "The Hitachi Vantara offering was the clear winner when it came to performance and price. We did an in-depth performance benchmark with our partner In&Out AG, and the cutting-edge, future-proof technology from Hitachi Vantara demonstrated its full potential."
The team deployed two Hitachi Virtual Storage Platform (VSP) 5500 solutions as primary storage, as well as Hitachi NAS Platform (HNAS) 4060 cluster systems for file access. Suva also relies on Hitachi VSP G600 for backups, while Hitachi Content Platform (HCP) and HCP S Series ensure long-term archiving of business data. Working with Hitachi Vantara, Suva modernized its data network using Brocade X6-8 Director switches, doubling SAN speed to 32 Gb/s and boosting overall storage performance.
Suva takes advantage of the VSP 5500 optimized enterprise NVMe data platform to store 2 PB of mission-critical business data. "The flexible scale-out architecture allows us to grow the solution as needed," adds Arn. "Our Hitachi VSP 5500 systems are configured as a cluster across two locations, and we use Hitachi Global-Active Device to mirror our data and maximize reliability. Sophisticated load balancing ensures that we get the full performance at all times."
To maximize capacity and reduce costs, the company has also activated the platform's deduplication and compression capabilities, boosting effective storage capacity with a ratio of 1.85:1, approximately 12% higher than expected.
Alongside the new breed of applications, the insurer runs a wide range of workloads on Hitachi Vantara storage. Approximately 200 physical servers with VMware vSphere and Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization power 1,400 virtual servers and 1,450 virtual desktops. As its core insurance platform, Suva uses the Adcubum Syrius, a well-known standard insurance core-application in the Swiss market. For customer relationship management and accounting, the company has also implemented SAP CRM and SAP ERP. These business applications connect to large Oracle, PostgreSQL and Microsoft SQL Server database systems, all backed by the Hitachi Vantara storage solution.
"Nowadays, it's not just our enterprise applications that need high-performance storage," remarks Mathis. "For example, when the COVID-19 pandemic struck, our VMware Horizon VDI platform suddenly became essential to provide flexible workplaces and virtual desktops for our staff. We also need a powerful storage solution to support new services built by our agile development teams. With 120 in-house developers and 30 external consultants, we are moving towards modern, streamlined DevOps processes with containers using Red Hat OpenShift."
Outcome: Outperforming Expectations to Speed Up Business Operations
“It’s our role to provide fast and reliable IT services to 3,500 business users,” says Arn. “By selecting Hitachi VSP 5500, we can adopt the latest technical innovations with a clear path for easy expansion over the next five years. We were highly impressed by the performance of this new solution to ensure efficient business operations.”
Suva has discovered that the speed, latency and throughput characteristics of the VSP 5500 all outperformed the company’s expectations. “Often with IT solutions, marketing brochures talk up the capabilities and the implementation falls short,” elaborates Mathis. “Not with Hitachi Vantara! The results we achieved with our partner In&Out AG were a pleasant surprise. We measured 10 million IOPS, which is great since we really need the performance for our high-traffic databases. Before the modernization, some systems operated close to the limits of our infrastructure—today, we have plenty of room for flexibility and growth.”
Business users of Suva’s data warehouse registered substantial speed-ups and shortened batch run times as a result of the storage infrastructure modernization. Faster analytics has a massive impact on Suva’s operations. Since deploying Hitachi VSP 5500 and upgrading the network, the company provides real-time analytics for key metrics, allowing staff to make better, data-driven decisions more rapidly.
The performance improvements facilitate Suva’s digitization program. The company has already modernized its forecasting systems with advanced machine learning models which rely on fast data processing to provide quicker and better case management. The increased capacity of the new infrastructure also supports Suva’s efforts to drive tighter process integration with customers and partners.
Initially, Suva was cautious about the migration of mission-critical data while working remotely. The Hitachi Vantara team helped the company to manage the transition to the new storage perfectly without issues. “We value the easy and direct collaboration with support and system engineers at Hitachi Vantara who always do an excellent job,” says Mathis. “Working with the same experienced people over many years has built trust and made our lives easier.”
“Hitachi Vantara has become a trusted partner, delivering outstanding quality, stability, services as well as performance throughout our 30-year relationship,” concludes Arn. “They continue to invest in innovations, products and usability, and we truly appreciate all the improvements we see in the latest Hitachi Virtual Storage Platform 5500.”
In&Out AG is an independent consulting company based in Zurich that specializes in IT infrastructure and data centers with a focus on storage technology. In&Out AG is an expert in evaluating storage solutions and facilitating benchmarks using its IOgen tool.
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