The Challenge: Supporting a shift to channel sales
In 2010, Pacific Compensation Insurance Company (PacificComp), responding to the demands of an increasingly competitive workers’ compensation insurance marketplace in California, decided to significantly change its business model.
As is the case with all businesses, access to markets is what makes a company successful – and it was time for Pacific Compensation to partner with insurance brokers to strategically provide more and better opportunities for California’s employers.
Moving from a direct marketing approach to partnering with brokers required a major systems overhaul and posed substantial integration challenges. PacificComp chose Mule ESB to integrate their policy management, billing management, and other systems to support its business initiatives.
The Solution: Mule ESB as an integration platform for legacy systems, internal apps and SaaS
The overall goal of PacificComp’s business initiatives was to decrease costs and increase ease of use for both underwriters and their broker partners. This became the mandate for the architecture PacificComp’s technical team was tasked to build. As much as possible PacificComp chose to invest in software as a service (SaaS) applications as these allowed the company to increase and decrease its usage as the market dictated. However, they also had several existing systems so it was necessary to integrate both current and new systems, whether cloud or on-premise.
As part of its investment in new systems, PacificComp made a conscious decision to adopt a model for their software architecture that would not only meet current needs but would also allow them to respond efficiently to both its business growth and to new advances in technology. The main systems they employ are First Best for Underwriting Management, DCo for Policy Management, Guidewire for claims handling applications, STG Billing for billing management and SpringCM for document and workflow management. Some, like DCo, were existing choices, whereas others like STG Billing were employed as part of the new business model. All components would need to be integrated as part of the architecture. According to Joe Cardenas, CIO of PacificComp:“Our overall environment involves both current and totally new systems. Because we were looking at almost a new company from a systems standpoint, we had the opportunity to do something very leading edge. The key to our initiatives was to find the right architecture for this.”
As part of the ramping up to make this integration model a reality, PacificComp hired Erich Leipold (evolsolutions LLC) as a contract architect. “The first thing we had to do was select an integration platform. While some point-to-point integrations had already been implemented, we found them difficult to manage for flexible and scalable environments” said Leipold. “We therefore decided utilizing an enterprise service bus was the right architecture for our needs.”
From an architectural perspective, PacificComp used substantial numbers of SaaS applications. “We decided the best architecture for our needs actually involved two Mule instances: a public and private instance. This provided appropriate security models for both external and internal Mule ‘users’” said Leipold.
Using Mule, PacificComp began implementing the most critical and time-sensitive use cases required for their 2010 re-launch. First amongst these was integration between DCo, a policy management application for the AS/400 platform that managed all PacificComp policies, and STG billing, a billing application offered by MajescoMastek.
To enable billing on policies, PacificComp chose to integrate to its AS/400 system via a Websphere MQ queue. Mule ESB picks messages off the queue. If the messages are part of a group, the workflow is ordered and processed synchronously. If they are not part of a group, then they are processed asynchronously.
While the DCo AS/400 application acts as the central system of record for all policies, additional information is needed for correct billing. This information is pulled from a database using JDBC and added to the message. Finally the request is sent to the STG billing application via CXF.
Mule also provides integration in the reverse direction. However, this follows a somewhat different path. STG Billing sends a web services request containing payment schedule updates for policies to the public Mule ESB-hosted CXF Web service. The ESB accepts the request and validates the incoming data. The data is then put on a JMS queue and the response is sent back to STG Billing.
After validating the message, the queue message is bridged to the private Mule instance for further processing. The request data is transformed into installment schedules for DCo. DCo receives the schedules through WMQ, fixed-width messages. DCo then invokes a secondary process, triggering another workflow.
With the integration between policy management and billing in place, the most critical blocker to PacificComp’s re-launch was removed. However, the company also had several other needs that Mule ESB was well suited to solve. For example, they chose to use SpringCM as their enterprise content management system and Mule provided a platform to integrate this with a number of internal applications that processed documents involved in the day-to-day operation of the insurance company.
Given the large number of documents printed daily in the insurance business as well as the substantial call volume, PacificComp also developed several smaller applications on Mule. The first of these printed groups of files delivered to PacificComp from STG billing as part of their billing workflow. A second logged calls to a database. Still others moved data between SQL databases, AS/400 databases and file shares as needed.
With their key systems integrated via Mule ESB, PacificComp successfully re-launched their business via an insurance broker sales model in 2010. PacificComp’s successful business relationship with Mule, however, doesn’t end there. As new integrations are developed, Mule will continue to provide a single integration framework throughout the enterprise.
“Mule provided immediate value to Pacific Compensation Insurance Company by enabling our critical business transition. However, it also proved robust enough to meet our future needs and easy enough to learn to accommodate all of our developers. We’re very happy we decided to choose Mule” said Leipold.