LIC opts for Linux
D K Mehrotra
BFSI has long been among the biggest spenders on IT. Now its
the turn of Indias leading insurer, Life Insurance Corporation of India,
to join in by upgrading its IT infrastructure. To do this it plans to move to
Linux not only at the server level, but also on the desktop.
LICs software has been developed in-house at its Software
Development Centre (SDC), with a back-end processing systems in the 1970s. In
the 1990s, LIC felt the need to develop a front-end package, named Front End
Application Package (FEAP).
Serving concurrent requests
The problem started in 2001 when LIC networked its offices
and shifted to Red Hat Linux 8.0. Once the centres were networked, concurrent
requests for customer data began to turn up the heat on its aging systems. This
led the company to re-examine its IT infrastructure. LIC decided to migrate
to Red Hat Enterprise Linux 2.1 (RHEL).
D K Mehrotra, GM, LIC, explains: It was becoming difficult to carry out
other projects simultaneously with Unix.
LIC also considered the cost effectiveness of the migration, which would help
it migrate its mission-critical business applications to the new system while
the SDC continues to produce 99 percent of its software.
In addition, the companys primary application, FEAP, was also experiencing
problems, which made it look for a faster operating system, and RHEL helped
it in this endeavour. Unix, says Mehrotra, limited the number of FEAP units
in use besides there was hardly any third party support for the OS.
B Venugopal, Chief, Information Technology adds that server emulation was a
big problem with Unix whereas with RHEL, We can simply convert a PC into
a server by connecting terminals. The migration was a result of both business
and technological needs.
of LICs 2,048 branches, 100 divisional offices, seven zonal offices, head
office and subsidiary offices will be covered by the deployment. Along with
this all of LICs desktops will also be converted to Linux. Approximately
60,000 users and five to six thousand servers will eventually migrate to RHEL.
With such a huge deployment, ensuring that theres no downtime will be
crucial. However, both Venugopal and Mehrotra are unfazed. They believe that
their 100 training centres across the country should ensure that the projects
duration does not get extended and that migration is seamless.
As of now, LIC claims to be facing no problems in the migration process. Says
Venugopal, We dont see any problems arising in the near future either.
Talking about the existence of a mental block against Linux systems, Mehrotra
says that if LIC had functioned with blocks like that, they would be lagging
behind not only in IT investments but also in the business that they run.
The migration, according to Venugopal, will enable LIC to use almost all software
and hardware available in the market. This is important as earlier the organisation
was restricted to certain applications due to its proprietary platform. RHEL
supports applications such as Micro Focus COBOL, which were difficult to run
The major benefit according to Venugopal and Mehrotra is the possibility of
a larger number of concurrent users accessing the database.
Keeping its options open
Two years back, LIC shifted from SCO-Unix to the Linux and if needed it might
shift to another platform in the future.
Says Mehrotra, We do not see the need to invest in other systems. That
said, we intend to give our global customers the best possible experience and
therefore, we are open to make any changes.