Insurance Carrier’s Enterprise Data Integration Upgraded with PilotFish to Meet MIB Deadline
MIB was sunsetting their prior means of electronic communications with their membership for MIB Inquiries, Results and Updates and implementing ACORD standards for messaging. This meant that all MIB members (including the carrier client) had to support ACORD-compliant, SOAP Web Service communications if they wanted to continue benefiting from their MIB membership. With a date looming for the cutover, time was of the essence. The carrier needed a proven solution that could also be implemented quickly.
In this case study, you’ll learn how the client leveraged the PilotFish eiPlatform Integration Engine to support ACORD and CLIEDIS standards, to meet its data transformation requirements and to create a modern, HTTPS SOAP Web Service to communicate with the MIB.
The client is a carrier and part of a multinational life insurance, pensions and asset management company. As part of a global asset management group, the client offers its customers institutional fixed income strategies and customized investment solutions in the Americas. The regions include the United States, Canada, Mexico and South America. Their products include pensions, variable annuities, individual universal life and individual term life policies. The client is a Medical Information Bureau, Inc. (MIB) member company. They rely on the MIB to help them assess an individual’s risk and eligibility in order to underwrite these policies.
The client company has grown organically and through acquisition to be one of the largest insurance and financial services companies in the world. With those acquisitions came multiple policy administration systems of different brands, vintages and technology stacks – each requiring integration with the MIB. For over 125 years, MIB has been a leading source for accurate risk assessment. Owned by its customers, MIB member life and health insurance companies rely on the MIB to underwrite and assess an individual’s risk and eligibility during the underwriting of life, health, disability income, critical illness and long-term care insurance policies.
MIB had undertaken an initiative to replace its proprietary interface systems with a nonproprietary solution that would allow them to offer member companies a standard method of integrating their new business/underwriting systems with the MIB’s services. They had worked with the ACORD standards organization, their member companies, software vendors and consultants to successfully deliver their new service. The transition to the modernized approach promised to enable their customers to be able to implement new business processes that simply were not feasible with the previous interface technology. They had upgraded their communications standard to a HTTPS SOAP Web Service and implemented the ACORD TXLife data standard for Inquiries, Results and Updates.
As challenging as the first phase was, the second phase (rolling it out to their more than 500 members at more than 800 locations) was even more challenging given their inability to control the resources and priorities of their membership. One thing was for sure, they had a hard deadline because MIB was decommissioning both the hardware and software used to support the prior system before a planned data center move.
The “client”, one of MIB’s biggest members, had several of its own challenges. They had 8 separate operating companies with more than a dozen policy administration systems of different brands, vintages and technology stacks that had to be interfaced with the MIB. Developing separate point-to-point interfaces for each of the systems was out of the question. They did not have the time or resources to make that a viable option. The MIB cutover date was looming.
So, the client turned to PilotFish who had gained a reputation in the insurance community for having developed middleware integration engine solutions that were particularly adept at enabling integration between disparate systems using a common model methodology and industry data standards which includes the ACORD TXLife standard. With the MIB’s deadline fast approaching, PilotFish (as the only Certified Alliance Partner of the MIB) was the perfect choice for implementing a solution that was proven, quick to implement and would provide a bridge to the future as they modernized their systems.
The client elected to work with PilotFish and implement the eiPlatform integration engine to meet their challenge. Working collaboratively and following a proven process, they were able to successfully migrate all of their MIB interfaces to the new ACORD TXLife format using SOAP Web Services communications protocol – well ahead of the deadline.
The first step was to analyze the current data output for the TXLife 401 Request (received in the TXLife 402 Response and output in the TXLife 404 update) to determine any additional requirements for the upgraded interface.
Next, using the eiConsole IDE Data Mapper, transformations were configured from the old MIB data format to the new ACORD XML format. The eiConsole is capable of directly reading the ACORD Schema and associated metadata directly into the eiConsole Data Mapper with just a couple of mouse-clicks. For this implementation, the ACORD XML format was used as the “canonical” so that any of the various proprietary formats of the more than one dozen administration systems could be translated to and from the ACORD XML format. The eiConsole supports a point-click-drag & drop visual interface layered on top of W3C–compliant XSLT for data transformations. This reduced the time required to configure the transformations by over 90%, while in-line testing in the eiConsole assured the quality of the output.
Once the data transformation was complete, the appropriate Listeners were configured to support the client’s various communication protocols. The eiConsole supports more than 2 dozen configurable Listeners out-of-the-box, so it was only a matter of selecting the ones required by the client and entering in the configuration data using the built-in configuration panels then selecting options from drop-downs. In this case, retrieving and returning the MIB data to an IBM WebSphere MQ Queue could satisfy most of the connection requirements. Additional Listeners for legacy systems included file-drops and CICS Transaction Gateway/JMS.
Connecting and transmitting data to the MIB was even easier. The eiConsole already has built-in support for connecting, transmitting and receiving data in an ACORD XML format using SOAP Web Services. Since the Data Mapper component of the eiConsole already handled the data transformation between the proprietary formats and the ACORD XML format, it was simply a matter of connecting to the MIB to send and receive the data. Selecting the transport, entering the client information and digital certificate issued by the MIB was all it took to begin live testing the interfaces.
Now it was time to deploy the newly configured interfaces to the eiPlatform integration engine. The eiPlatform (a Java framework) will run on any of the popular operating systems and application servers. The client chose to deploy on the Linux operating system and WebSphere Application Server, the technology most consistent with their existing technology stack and overall infrastructure. The installation was accomplished in just a few hours and then rigorously tested end-to-end against the MIB test facility to verify connections, accuracy of data content and security.
Because this was a collaborative effort by the client and PilotFish personnel, the client benefited from hands-on experience and on-the-job knowledge transfer. Prior to going live, PilotFish provided additional detailed explanation of all the components of the PilotFish software components employed to accomplish the interface and formal classroom education on the use of PilotFish for maintenance of the newly implemented interfaces as well as configuring future interfaces.
In just a matter of weeks, the new MIB ACORD XML SOAP Web Services had been deployed to production – supporting hundreds of thousands of transactions with the transition completely transparent to the client’s end users.
The benefits of the implementing the PilotFish integration engine to support MIB integration were manifold. First and foremost, the failure to meet the cutover date and the potentially devastating impact it would have had to the client’s new business/underwriting operation was completely avoided. The creation of a single gateway using a common model method of integration to support all communications to and from the MIB for 8 separate operating companies (and more than a dozen new business/policy administration systems) reduced the cost and simplified the maintenance of the interfaces.
The solution’s “short stack” use of open source and W3C technology complemented their existing infrastructure, eliminated the need to learn and add new technologies to their already complex and diverse technology stack. The project was executed without any disruption of existing business processes thus keeping the end-users happy, if not blissfully unaware. A strategic solution to their integration requirements was achieved in less time and a fraction of the cost of a tactical solution or any other available alternative. And when complete, the client was positioned to support the maintenance of the interfaces with minimal resources and able to configure any additional interfaces they might need in the future.
Throughout 19 years and hundreds of implementations, PilotFish has developed and refined a methodology for the configuration, testing, and deployment of interfaces and process orchestrations resulting in an unparalleled track record of success.
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