Life Insurance Leader in Japan Shifts to Hybrid and Multicloud Future

Taiju Life Insurance moved to hyperconverged infrastructure to simplify IT operations, speed scalability and provide cloud-powered services to employees and customers.

By Michael Brenner November 10, 2020

Financial services companies around the world are moving rapidly to public and private cloud technologies. In Japan, Taiju Life Insurance recently switched from a traditional IT platform to hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI), setting themselves up for a hybrid and multicloud future.

Digital transformation is accelerating across the financial services industry, but it can be quite challenging. It requires planning, ROI analysis and foresight in order to find the right balance of performance, scalability, security and regulatory requirements. Still, research firm Gartner expects that by the end of 2020, over 90% of organizations across industries will use some sort of hybrid infrastructure to power IT operations and services. Many industries are experiencing the benefits of cloud adoption, making the transition well worth the effort. For Taiju Life Insurance, seeing was believing.

Taiju Life Insurance’s Journey

After merging with Nippon Life Insurance Company in 2016, Mitsui Life Insurance Company changed its name to Taiju Life Insurance in 2019. Life insurance products are increasingly sophisticated, necessitating a more robust sales strategy. That strategy would depend on a reliable, scalable data center and new services.

“We considered building a system that was scalable, resistant to change, safe and secure,” said Kou Higuchi, General CSIRT Manager for Taiju Life Insurance’s System Development Department.

They also needed to synergize with the Nippon Life Insurance Group, so the Taiju team wanted an IT platform that was simple to use and secure. Taiju Life Insurance wanted to operate with multiple cloud solutions.

“In a 3-tier configuration, all components must be individually designed and configured,” said Takahiro Araki, Chief Engineer of the Technical Group, Technology and Operations at Taiju Life & I Technology Ltd, a subsidiary of Taiju Life Insurance. “We knew it was going to be difficult constructing 3-tier configuration in the short time period.”

They had to align with regulations and beat the clock. A key challenge for the organization was achieving internet separation as required by the “Policy on Initiatives to Strengthen Cybersecurity in the Financial Sector,” published in 2015 by the Financial Services Agency. Taiju also had to accelerate their timeline to complete the project before the Tokyo Summer Olympics started, scheduled for July of 2020.

By moving to HCI, Taiju could speed the company’s deployment time and provide a modern, scalable foundation able to meet changing needs.

“Not only did it need to be constructed in a short time period, but we also needed to construct a secure VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) environment for thousands of people, so to avoid excessive investment from over-engineering, we wanted an environment that we could flexibly scale,” said Yuya Hamaguchi, Section Chief of the System Planning Group in the System Development Department at Taiju. 

They explored HCI technologies and discovered the Nutanix Enterprise Cloud operating system, and never looked back.

“The infrastructure stack includes virtualization, security and networking through software,” recalled Yuki Agatsuma, System Designer of the Technical Group, Technology and Operations  at Taiju Life & I Technology Ltd, a subsidiary of Taiju Life Insurance. “We regarded highly the ability to manage operational repair and maintenance centrally.” 

Taiju uses Nutanix software, including Nutanix AHV to virtualize and scale operations, as well as Nutanix's Prism to manage everything and push software updates simply from one interface. 

Current Status of the HCI Environment and Future Goals

Within a year, Taiju Life Insurance rolled out nearly a dozen nodes for its VDI environment, supporting thousands of users. The company was able to consolidate its License Server, Active Directory and file servers on Nutanix, which now runs 30 virtual machines.

“When the web browser is launched as a virtual app, it boots in a short time,” Hamaguchi said. “I have seen examples here and there of just web browsers launching under similar setups requiring over more than a double of the time, and I hear stories of struggles to improve ease of use.” That is no longer the case running on HCI.

Their new platform allows the company to set ambitious goals to accelerate digital transformation. 

“Security is an important area we must address moving forward, and we are also hopeful of solutions such as Nutanix Flow that achieve micro-segmentation on a virtual platform,” said Higuchi, looking ahead to the future. 

“We envision the system will become more diversified in the future, including a hybrid environment.” 

The ability to support flexible environments is essential for success now more than ever.

Michael Brenner is a keynote speaker, author, and CEO of Marketing Insider Group. Michael has written hundreds of articles on sites such as Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine, and The Guardian. He speaks at dozens of leadership conferences each year covering topics such as marketing, leadership, technology, and business strategy. Follow him on Twitter @BrennerMichael.

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