The Ontario-based company provides insurance to insurance companies, hence the name reinsurance. According to information systems manager Jack Black, the administration package, which he wouldn't name, is "a very capable package," but "it's also difficult to change the way it worked, as your business changes over a period of 14 years. Our business has been going in one direction, and the package was staying in another direction."
For example, the system's claims management system ran on Windows. In order to upload it into its J.D. Edwards enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, Farm Mutual would have to extract that data, reformat it and upload it in batch jobs. IT staff had to do this by hand, and, in many cases, the data in the ERP system was at least one day old.
Using programs from Magic Software Enterprises Inc., Farm Mutual will be able to automate the process of bringing that data into the correct format and uploading it to the J.D. Edwards application.
"What we are planning to do with the new application is make this new interface happen so it will be automatic instead of semiautomatic," Black said.
The company has two System i5 machines, a 570 running the Magic Software and legacy applications, and a 520 running Lotus Domino, as well as other Intel servers running data analysis, email security and other functions. The System i machines are running i5/OS V5R2 or V5R3.
Moving from the legacy application has been a lengthy process. In February 2006, Magic Software and Farm Mutual began analyzing existing systems and designing a new one. The conclusion: The legacy application wouldn't be able to keep up with company needs.
""It's difficult to configure," Black said of the legacy application. "It's also difficult to use because it's an old green-screen design that has too many screens involved in day-to-day work. So we decided to develop a custom application focused specifically on our business requirement."
Enter Magic Software. The company has two products, iBOLT and eDeveloper. EDeveloper helps users create programs that can draw from a myriad of environments, from J2EE, .NET and RPG. IBolt, meanwhile, focuses on connecting applications to business process management. The Israeli company has an office in Laguna Hills, Calif., and has been in the AS/400, iSeries and System i space for 12 years.
"I think [our] chief advantage in the iSeries environment is the fact that we can provide straightforward access to resources that would be accessible otherwise only through line-by-line coding," said Glenn Johnson, executive vice president for marketing for the company.
Magic's work with Farm Mutual is far from over. Working piece by piece, Black said it expects to have a final version of the new application delivered to them by the fourth quarter of this year, with a target of going into full production on Jan. 1 of next year.
"There will be a lot of testing between now and the end of 2007," he said.
Let us know what you think about the story; e-mail: Mark Fontecchio, News Writer.