Customer Success Story
Automating cloud migration and modernizing legacy applications
Chef provided the automation Verisk needed to move an entire existing technology stack to AWS in less than 90 days.
Helping customers make informed decisions
Verisk is a data analytics company that serves the casualty and insurance, natural resources and energy, and financial services verticals. You probably haven’t heard of them before, but I can guarantee you’ve been affected by them in some way.
The company employs about 6,500 people in 27 different countries around the world. Through a series of acquisitions, the company has amassed 14 petabytes of unique and proprietary data assets that it uses to help customers make data-informed decisions. For example:
- In the insurance industry, Verisk is involved in all aspects of rating and claims processing, and is currently innovating with data related to vehicle telematics, IOT, drones, and autonomous cars. They probably helped decide the price you pay for insurance.
- They are involved in pandemic modeling, meaning they run complex simulations to determine how disease might spread in the event of an outbreak.
- In the natural resources space, they look at what’s in the ground – things like titanium, tin, tungsten, and gold; four minerals that make their way into just about every single smart phone, tablet, computer, or piece of technology infrastructure that people use every single day – and they spot human rights violations (such as child labor, or the involvement of militant organizations) that may be occurring within the sourcing of those minerals.
- They help Nielsen Ratings determine whether the people watching commercials are actually buying those products.
- And in the financial services space, Verisk tracks $6.7 trillion of consumer spend every year.
Verisk prides itself on being a good steward of every byte of data it touches, keeping both the company’s own data and the data it processes on behalf of its customers secure. It also prides itself on being first to market with many new products and innovations, and on moving with agility – an imperative which many companies find difficult in the insurance industry, particularly when rules and regulations around data import/export vary by market.
In 2016, Verisk embarked on a 2-year journey to migrate to the cloud, instill a DevOps culture, and automate as much of their processes as possible, with the goal of having capacity, availability and resiliency where their customers are throughout the world.
To achieve this, Verisk bundled three technologies (Amazon Web Services, Chef, and AWS OpsWorks) into a framework they termed the “HOV Lane,” which served as an express route for cloud migration.
Mike Ryan, Verisk cloud architect
[OWCA] is one of the of the most awesome services Amazon has. We have found a great deal of value in using it because it's very easy to hand it to our team in India (for example) and say, 'guys, build another one.’ They're able to package everything together and deliver it to the business without any previous experience with Chef.
Thanks to the capabilities in AWS OpsWorks for Chef Automate (OWCA), Verisk developers could deploy their own applications with a push-button experience, while Verisk’s infrastructure team defined and controlled application models and cookbooks (i.e. groups of recipes that describe how Chef manages server applications and utilities) across the different business units.
Verisk’s migration project has gone off without a hitch. The company is on track to migrate 60 to 80 accounts to AWS across its business units by the end of 2017. Most recently, they acquired a company and brought the entire technology stack from that company from to Verisk Analytics within 90 days. And anecdotally, its cloud architects found OWCA so intuitive to use that they could ask their infrastructure team in India to package applications and deliver them to the business – without them having any previous experience with Chef.
The cloud migration project has removed complexity around managing infrastructure, and let Verisk focus on what it does best: deliver value to customers and innovate in data analytics around the world.
Pursuing new ideas in a large enterprise
Leading change in a large and profitable enterprise is challenging for a number of reasons ranging from organizational inertia to project prioritization. Patience and persistence will be needed for leaders tasked with driving change while maintaining profitability. Successful leaders must also balance existing corporate success against the opportunity to improve.