Primerica Makes Database Admin Easy on the Eyes

By Zarna Patel
Insurancetech.com, August 2, 2013

Primerica Life Insurance Company was facing a workforce challenge: A new generation of IT professionals expect to work with systems that have more visual appeal than the mainframe's traditional green screen. So, CIO David Wade set out to find a workflow system that would meet the aesthetic and capability needs of his team. The IT professionals at Primerica use CA Technology's CA Chorus with IBM's DB2 for z/OS to improve CPU time, organize work roles, and offer tools to organize workflow.

For Primerica, the problem with just using DB2 alone was a lack of readability. In addition to a more modern screen view for IT professionals who are more accustomed to graphical user interface (GUI) tools, Primerica database administrators come into work every morning to see visual representations that help identify CPU intensive SQL, Wade says. Administrators then decide to add indexes or help developers improve SQL, which reduces "the DB2 load on the mainframe and buying back CPU cycles," he adds.

One benefit, says Wade, is that CA Chorus feels more intuitive to their new generation of database administrators because it is web based. Using user-friendly GUI based tools to perform system monitoring and troubleshooting allows the IT professional to quickly identify a problem or figure out ways to increase efficiency.

During the month and a half trial period, Wade saw results immediately. He comments, "Primerica benefited from it within the first week we started using it. So once I saw the product's benefits, I recommended that we purchased the product."

Though some IT staff at Primerica use DB2 without CA Chorus, Wade says that "It's important that in order to recruit younger people into our business, [we need] to have access to new and fresher-looking technology. So this is an intuitive, good front-end to what can be a complicated system."

The product allows Primerica to teach IT professionals how to understand DB2 quickly so that they can focus on troubleshooting, adds Wade.

Another benefit from using this solution was the ability to get insight into the COBOL and Java programs they write. The staff is able to see more easily whether programs run efficiently or not, explains Wade.

"CA Chorus does not help us identify incorrect or invalid SQL statements within COBOL and Java programs, adds Wade. "Instead, it helps us identify candidates for possible access path and performance improvements among thousands of SQL statements we run each day."

This enables the program to be more efficient once the codes are fixed, which then cuts down on CPU time.

"We write more efficient code that has better response time," comments Wade. "At the end of the day it's going to make your mainframe last longer. It extends life of mainframe because you're writing more efficient programs."