Case Study: The Prudential Insurance Company of America

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The Prudential Insurance Company of America serves nearly 40 million customers worldwide, offering a variety of products and financial services. More than 2,300 companies and institutions, including one out of every three Fortune 500 firms, entrust Prudential to manage their pension and other institutional funds. Prudential employs more than 78,000 people and reported a 1998 revenue of more than $27 billion. The company decided to standardize on a network operating system that offered improved reliability and manageability, while reducing the total cost of ownership. The company expected that standardization would initially mean additional support costs. But when Prudential standardized 6,500 servers affecting 70,000 users worldwide on Microsoft® Windows NT® Server 4.0, the exact opposite happened: support costs went down. Costs dropped so dramatically, Prudential has redeployed nearly half of its 2,000 IT support professionals to more profitable endeavors, such as developing new software applications and consulting with customers.

On This Page

The Need for a Single, Centralized Solution
Why Prudential Chose Windows NT Server 4.0
The Benefits of Migrating to Windows NT Server 4.0
Current Environment
Preparing for the Future: Windows 2000 Server

The Need for a Single, Centralized Solution

In the mid-1990s, Prudential executives initiated "One Prudential," a strategy that encouraged a more cohesive team effort among the five Prudential businesses. To accomplish this, the company needed a major change in its IT infrastructure.

Before migrating to Windows NT Server 4.0, each of Prudential's five business units built and managed its own IT infrastructure, which led to the proliferation of a number of technologies. There were broad deployments of Novell NetWare 3.x and Microsoft LAN Manager, some Windows NT Server 3.51, and assorted implementations of IBM LAN Server, OS/2, Wang, IBM AIX, Solaris, HPUX, and other systems running on AS/400s and DEC VAXs. With this assortment of technologies, the company found it difficult to leverage data and IT expertise across the business units and to provide cost-effective services. Prudential executives recognized the need for a single, centralized solution for the company's corporate worldwide network

Seeking to improve reliability and manageability, and reduce the total cost of ownership, the company decided to standardize its network operating system on 6,500 servers worldwide. Prudential chose Windows NT Server 4.0 based on the company's existing deployments of Microsoft technologies, and the product's integration and compatibility capabilities. Prudential also chose Windows NT Server 4.0 because it could deliver many solutions at once: an applications platform, an applications development platform and file and print.

Today, Prudential experiences extraordinary levels of reliability and versatility as it scales mission-critical server-based applications to more than 1,000 users per server and approximately 500 users per file and print server. By migrating to Windows NT Server, the company also has positioned itself for long-term savings in the total cost of ownership of its IT environment.

Why Prudential Chose Windows NT Server 4.0

  • Compatibility and interoperability capabilities. Windows NT Server 4. 0 delivers compatibility with Microsoft LAN Manager, and the ability to integrate smoothly with Novell NetWare. Both products were already deployed widely at Prudential. Executives also liked the support of Windows NT Server 4.0 for the IP protocol -- the company's new desktop protocol strategy.

  • Close alignment between Windows NT Server 4.0 and Microsoft client technologies. Prudential had previously deployed both Microsoft Office and Windows® for Workgroups on its more than 70,000 client systems. The company planned to migrate these systems to Windows NT Workstation 4.0. In particular, company executives liked the fact that Microsoft had integrated the logon, drive connections, and printer mappings between Windows NT Server 4.0 and its client software.

  • Windows NT Server 4.0 Integration Microsoft BackOffice® SNA Server. Prudential had a sizable and ongoing investment of resources and data in IBM systems, and executives knew that a new server system would need to connect cleanly and efficiently with those systems. Used in combination with its companion product Microsoft SNA Server, Windows NT Server met this requirement.

The Benefits of Migrating to Windows NT Server 4.0

Windows NT Server provides Prudential with the following benefits

  • Decreases the time required for application deployment from months to days, saving millions of dollars.

  • Increases the number of e-mail users per server from 100 to more than 1000, with 99.9% uptime.

  • Provides a highly reliable platform for large, mission-critical applications such as trading floor transaction processing, document imaging, and enterprise-wide e-mail.

Enables each user to access all resources through a single account, and centralizes security administration.

In addition, the migration to Windows NT Server 4.0 delivers:

Improved Reliability

Prudential IT executives find that Windows NT Server 4.0 proves its value as a highly manageable and cost-effective systems platform. Above all, they stress the reliability of Windows NT Server 4.0 running the company's large-scale line-of-business applications, including:

  • Trading-floor transaction processing. Prudential relies on Windows NT Server 4.0 to process billions of dollars of daily trading-floor transactions.

  • An enterprise-wide Lotus Notes e-mail application. Compared with a previous OS/2-based environment, Windows NT Server has enabled the company to increase the number of Lotus Notes e-mail users by a factor of ten. The application now supports more than 1,000 users per server with no degradation in response time, and more than 99.9 percent uptime.

Works Well With Existing Infrastructure

With the multiprotocol support of Windows NT Server, Prudential employees can access historical data in an efficient and cost-effective manner on the wide variety of systems that have been in use for decades. Users access servers running Windows NT Server 4.0 to pull data from IBM mainframes, AS/400s, VAXs, and other systems -- all through a single user desktop interface. In addition, Windows NT Server delivers high levels of protocol compatibility. It works seamlessly with IP, the company's present and future protocol, and with IPX, the company's legacy protocol.

Improved Manageability

Prudential found Windows NT Server fast and easy to deploy and administer. For example, file and print services have become far easier to administer, with each file and print server supporting approximately 500 users and dozens of printers. To connect a server and its printers, the company uses a Windows NT Server interface that managers find simple to use and highly reliable.

Managing of account domains has become much simpler since the move to Windows NT Server. Instead of having to remember and synchronize IDs and passwords across numerous accounts, users can now access the resources they need through a single account, regardless of the resource domain. In addition, the company can establish enterprise security controls across entire account domains.

With these capabilities, IT executives have expanded their view beyond the department level, taking enterprise-wide approach to systems management. In addition, IT support staff work more efficiently than ever. Recently, Prudential has been able to redeploy nearly half of its support staff to more profitable activities, including application development, customer consulting and centralized security management.

Multipurpose System Versatility

With its implementation of Windows NT Server, Prudential has the versatility to have multiple functions available on a single server operating system. For example, Windows NT Server acts as a proxy, file-and-print, and application server, while providing SNA gateway and security services, thus delivering a compact infrastructure solution. Such a solution is particularly important in smaller branch offices, where users rely on a single server to do nearly everything locally.

Current Environment

Windows NT Supports Server and Client

Working closely with Microsoft Consulting Services, Prudential migrated 4,000 servers from Novell NetWare and Microsoft LAN Manager to Windows NT Server 4. As part of this move, the company also implemented other members of the BackOffice family of server software, including:

  • Microsoft SQL ServerTM provides databases on more than 500 servers for accounting, financial, and other line-of-business applications.

  • Microsoft Systems Management Server automates and simplifies software distribution, asset inventory, and remote administrative control of any desktop. For example, Systems Management Server cut the time required for application upgrades in the customer call center from three weeks down to a single night. In one recent upgrade, Prudential saved more than a million dollars in support costs.

  • Microsoft SNA Server streamlines SNA connections to the 46 terabytes of data stored in Prudential's substantial mainframe environment.

In addition, Prudential uses Microsoft WINS (Windows Internet Name Service) with TCP/IP, the company's primary desktop protocol, and DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) for IP management services. These Windows NT technologies provide the basis for name resolution services across the enterprise and have greatly simplified the migration of Prudential desktops to an IP-only environment.

Preparing for the Future: Windows 2000 Server

Prudential plans to implement Microsoft® Windows® 2000 Server as soon as it is available, for such features as the Active DirectoryTM directory services, Zero Administration, and clustering support. The company expects to use the Active Directory and Zero Administration to delegate administration tasks more efficiently and cost-effectively. These services will allow Prudential to integrate new businesses quickly and easily into existing directory structures. Windows 2000 Server clustering features let the company further streamline system maintenance, even as system resources are stretched with larger and more powerful applications.

"Because Windows NT Server has turned out to be such a reliable platform for our document imaging application, we can comfortably take advantage of the price/performance benefits of running it in the PC environment."

Anthony Costa, Vice President, Workflow Imaging

"Windows NT Server gives us a clean and simple interface for connecting printer servers to clients. It's so easy to use that it's become second nature and it works perfectly. With Windows NT Server, the days of print-server problems are over."

- George Lioudis, Vice President, System Engineering