Admiral Group Goes All-in on AWS
Created in 1993, Admiral Group is a British insurance group specializing in car and home insurance. Through its subsidiaries, Admiral Group serves more than 6.5 million customers in Great Britain, Italy, Spain, and France.
“Data is fundamental for risk assessment, which is the heart of the insurance business. And with the sector as highly regulated as it is, ensuring data security is crucial,” said Christophe Sanchez, Europe CIO at Admiral Group. “At the same time, we have to be flexible to innovate and respond to market developments. The cloud meets these needs while allowing us to position ourselves as an attractive employer for IT talent.”
When we started to use the cloud, we very quickly came to the conclusion that it was our future.”
Europe CIO, Admiral Group
A Business Based on Digital Technology
As a user of traditional hosting services for its subsidiaries in Europe, Admiral Group decided to migrate to AWS at the beginning of 2018. “Our main distribution channel is digital, and most of our customer interactions are on-line,” says Sanchez. “We started to see the limits of what we could do. Security is guaranteed but it is more and more complex and costly to maintain in these heterogeneous environments. We needed more automation but it was difficult to implement.”
Admiral Group quickly created the foundations and structures to securely operate in the cloud and to train staff through a center of excellence that established cloud governance and security. This enabled the company to quickly use AWS while granting a large amount of autonomy to the teams working on the cloud.
“AWS allows us to move to more modern and automated security models. We very quickly invested in automating it and implementing controls that are just as rigorous as on-premises ones, but adapted to the cloud,” says Sanchez.
Admiral Group uses a wide range of AWS services, including compute, storage, database, analytics, artificial intelligence, security, and networks and CDNs.
The Cloud Advantage in Innovation and Data Management
Christophe Sanchez believes that the cloud opens up a whole universe of opportunities and possibilities that were once disregarded as being too complex to achieve with the limitations of traditional environments.
He says: “Once we have an idea, it’s easy to find the building blocks among AWS services – it’s like a box of Lego. It allows us to quickly implement a POC or a solution, and we don’t have to go through long purchasing processes; we just have to add it to the catalogue of authorized services and start using it.”
“Thanks to the cloud, we have access to tools that were once too complex, too costly, or too time-consuming to implement on-premises, for example a data warehouse with services such as Amazon Redshift or a real data lake. With AWS, low storage costs and resource elasticity help us maintain a large volume of data, even when its value isn’t obvious in the short term.”
Freedom with the Cloud
The cloud has also sped up and simplified teams’ jobs, particularly infrastructure managers, which led to a change in mind sets and new challenges. “They have gone from a universe of hardware limitations to a universe where there are no more limitations, but instead financial decisions to make: will this initiative return what I’m spending on resources?” says Christophe Sanchez.
This freedom also affects data that is subject to size limitations or to database performance limitations in on-premises environments. “By moving to the cloud, we are free from these, and we have been exposed to a universe of opportunities because data is fundamental to our business. We can focus on our core business without technical limitations. Instead of freeing up space in a data warehouse, we can focus on our use cases and create value,” highlights Christophe Sanchez.
AWS has allowed Admiral Group to work faster, more securely, and to deliver projects quicker.” It has also provided professional development opportunities for the company’s teams. “We trained our teams extensively, they have grown in the process, and they now love using cloud services. Working on the cloud – a modern, innovative, and exciting technology – makes us a more attractive employer.”
The Challenge of COVID-19
Following the lockdown implemented to fight COVID-19, Admiral Group worked towards service continuity while ensuring the safety of its 1,200 employees.
“We were faced with an extreme service continuity scenario over the long term with 100 percent of our employees working from home. In two and a half weeks, we built a solution based on Amazon Workspaces. Our employees connect to a virtual PC from their own or a company device and they can have the same work experience as they do at the office and with a heightened level of security.”
It took only 3 days for the Admiral Group to return to responding to customers as normal.
An Agile Future
“The agility that we gained with AWS is going to be the benchmark of success in the future. We’ve seen it already: with COVID-19, we scaled up very quickly, going from 0 to 100 percent of our employees working from home. And we achieved in two and a half weeks what would have taken a year on-premises.”
About Admiral Group
Founded in 1993, Admiral Group offers home, van, and travel insurance, as well as personal loans and car finance. The company has operations in Spain, Italy, France, the US, Mexico, and Turkey, and serves over 6.5 million customers worldwide.
Benefits of AWS
- Two and a half weeks to set up 1,200 employees to work from home
- 4 - 6 weeks to get idea into production
- 100s of cloud-trained employees
AWS Services Used
Redshift powers analytical workloads for Fortune 500 companies, startups, and everything in between.
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