Establish a common infrastructure, streamline operations, standardize data-flow protocols and provide a global level of governance for all data transmissions following a series of corporate mergers.
- Centralized control and deep visibility over the end-to-end data flows that power the pension fund business
- Improved operational efficiency through a standardized, streamlined method for defining, provisioning and managing data flows
- Reduced costs and faster time to market, thanks to an automated migration process that converts data flow information from legacy systems and provisions CFTs
A leader of the pension, protection and savings market in France, AG2R La Mondiale has carried out an ambitious policy of mergers and partnerships to contend with a swiftly changing regulatory and competitive environment. With 11,000 employees, and 15 million policyholders and beneficiaries from 500,000 enterprises across France, AG2R La Mondiale had total gross inflows of over €28 billion in 2015.
Agility in a changing landscape enables a global level of governance
As a key player in France's contributory pension system, AG2R La Mondiale partners with banks, employers, government agencies and other pension providers to collect pension contributions from currently active workers, and to pay out pensions to retirees. This collection and payment activity involves a large number of internal and external data flows, including financial transfers to and from banks, as well as data flows on workers and retirees.
AG2R La Mondiale has long worked to enhance its competitive position. A prime example of this was the merger in 2008 of the two pension firms AG2R and La Mondiale. For the past decade, moreover, the French government has pursued a policy of reducing the number of active pension funds to cut costs and rationalize the system. In the latest instance, AG2R La Mondiale merged with Réunica in 2015 as part of this consolidation.
These mergers created certain challenges. With each amalgamation, AG2R La Mondiale had to connect each entity's data center to the others to enable data flows between their respective applications. In this rapidly changing landscape, the company has to be agile and ensure that its newly linked information systems are fully interoperable.
Moreover, the firm is committed to providing a high quality of service, with zero errors and zero delays. Given this growing complexity, AG2R La Mondiale, a long-time Axway customer, decided to:
- Establish a common infrastructure and streamline operations
- Standardize data-flow protocols
- Provide a global level of governance for all data transmissions
This became even more critical with regulatory changes in France's pay-as-you-go pension system. Previously, monthly pension contributions were received seven days before pension payments were made. Now, payments had to be made on the same day contributions were received, creating a treasury risk of €4 billion every month, and making data-flow governance a priority.
Open protocols and scalability make Axway Transfer CFT an easy choice
AG2R La Mondiale and its predecessor companies have deployed Axway Transfer CFT to manage its data flows for many years. In parallel, however, the company also used a competitor's software that came with proprietary protocols.
"We needed to streamline our data centers and standardize our protocols," said Alexandre Casanova, Systems Engineer at AG2R La Mondiale. "We wanted a single solution to handle all data flows, so we set up a proof of concept (POC) in 2012 to compare the solutions."
Axway Transfer CFT was the clear winner: "We chose Axway CFT for its technical qualities, including its robustness and use of open protocols; its roadmap of new functions, including central governance; and the strong support we received," said Casanova. "For us, Axway's support is one of their key selling points."
"What convinced us was the release of Axway CFT v3, which offered new capabilities, such as an active-active, multi-node CFT cluster with high availability, scalability and acceleration," said Casanova. "We saw that Axway was committed to investing in the CFT solution."
With Axway's help, AG2R La Mondiale began to migrate its data flows to Axway Transfer CFT. Axway converts the legacy information into the standard formats used by Axway Central Governance. The result is then injected into the repository and deployed on the appropriate Axway Transfer CFT nodes.
“What convinced us was the release of Axway CFT v3, which offered new capabilities, such as an active-active, multi-node CFT cluster with high availability, scalability and acceleration. We saw that Axway was committed to investing in the CFT solution.”
Special advantages for early adopters of Axway Central Governance
Given the complexity and number of systems at AG2R La Mondiale, including legacy applications, the company knew it needed a solution that would provide central governance of all data flows, whatever their source. The solution had to provide:
- A repository of all data flows and applications
- Centralized configuration of all CFTs
- Standardized and automated deployment of data flows
- End-to-end monitoring
- High security
Upon learning Axway Central Governance would be released shortly, AG2R La Mondiale decided to join its Early Adopter program in 2013. This meant the company would receive beta versions of the software for testing, and could request improvements.
"It's a two-way street," said Casanova. "We put in time and effort, but we also can request changes to improve the software. And, because of our role as Early Adopters, we have a very close relationship with Axway R&D."
Higher data volumes processed after migration to Axway Transfer CFT
In the current configuration at AG2R La Mondiale:
- Axway Transfer CFT is used for internal data flows, with multi-node CFTs deployed at each data center's front end to provide active-active availability, scalability and acceleration
- Axway Central Governance is used to define, provision and manage all internal data flows, which are listed in its repository of CFTs and applications
- Axway Gateway handles external data flows involving partners such as banks, employers and other pension funds, with Axway Sentinel monitoring these exchanges
As migration from the legacy system nears completion, the volumes handled by the Axway MFT solution are rising sharply:
- Daily transfers: currently 10,000; will rise to 60,000 by end 2017
- Data flows managed by Axway Central Governance: 2500 in June 2016; 3400 in October 2016 – and rising
- Axway CFT instances: currently 500
"Our ground rule is that if a production server needs to exchange data, it must be equipped with a CFT," said Casanova.
Axway Central Governance boosts reliability, security and performance
A constant priority for AG2R La Mondiale is to meet its SLAs with external partners. "Axway Gateway does what we ask it to do, and enables us to meet our SLAs with partners," said Casanova. "The infrastructure is stable, robust and virtually incident-free."
Noting that the next version of Axway Gateway will be fully integrated with Axway Central Governance, Casanova said: "Once Central Governance covers all our data flows – whether internal or external – we'll truly have end-to-end control, with additional stability, visibility and speed to market."
"Axway Central Governance is the keystone of our data flow infrastructure," said Casanova. "It acts as the repository of our data flow information, monitors the health of our infrastructure, and gives us end-to-end visibility of our data flows. Central Governance is critical for us."
"Axway Central Governance is the keystone of our data flow infrastructure. It acts as the repository of our data flow information, monitors the health of our infrastructure, and gives us end-to-end visibility of our data flows. Central Governance is critical for us."
Deep visibility, efficiency, cost savings and acceleration to market
With Axway Central Governance now fully integrated with Axway Transfer CFT and deployed across much of the AG2R La Mondiale environment, the benefits of the solution are already clear:
- Deep visibility and unified flow management: "Now that we've built our infrastructure around Central Governance, we have end-to-end visibility of our data flows," said Casanova. "We also have traceability for our financial flows, which is absolutely vital."
- Improved operational efficiency: "We now have a standardized, streamlined method for adding data flows, which optimizes our processes," said Casanova. "With Central Governance for external flows, it will be even easier and faster to onboard new partners."
- Reduced costs and faster time to market: Axway Central Governance automates the migration process by converting data flow information from legacy systems, injecting the result into the repository, and then provisioning the CFT. "Axway is enabling us to migrate a large number of data flows," said Casanova. "Their migration assistance saves us time, money and IT resources."
A roadmap for convergence
Following its recent merger with Réunica, AG2R La Mondiale is working to consolidate its processes, streamline its organization and create a single, unified infrastructure. "Our first task is a convergence program for our file transfer and data flow tools," said Casanova. "We're looking at several possible scenarios." These include:
- Deploying Axway SecureTransport: As the company uses Axway Gateway for external flows, it has become an Early Adopter of the next version of Axway Central Governance, which incorporates the Gateway. "But we may replace the Gateway with Axway SecureTransport," said Casanova. "SecureTransport has additional functionalities we like, such as acceleration, active-active availability, and easier person-to-person and person-to-system transfers."
- Further customize Axway Central Governance: "Looking ahead, we want to use Central Governance's capabilities to create web dashboards that can be accessed from any platform and are personalized for each of the teams responsible for overseeing our infrastructure, our IT production, etc.," said Casanova.
- Introducing API capabilities: AG2R La Mondiale is considering deploying Axway API Gateway in its Axway MFT environment. The initial goal would be to secure the company's back ends, while offering developers an internal API portal. Ultimately however, API over MFT could provide self-service capabilities to application managers, enabling them to design, deploy and monitor their own data flows. "We recently did a POC and are reviewing our options now," said Casanova.
Whichever scenarios AG2R La Mondiale pursues, it's clear that Axway Central Governance will play a vital role. "In fact, Central Governance is the main reason we chose Axway," said Casanova. "It makes sense to have this kind of tool in our toolbox."