MetLife renovates legacy IT for the cloud era

Adoption of cloud, microservices and container technologies have helped MetLife pursue a digital transformation intended to boost operational efficiencies and improve the customer experience.

MetLife renovates legacy IT for the cloud era

Many enterprises have embraced cloud computing to fuel digital transformations, launching initiatives that range from new mobile applications to analytics for gleaning insights from customers. Yet due to concerns about security, regulations and data governance, enterprise adoption of public cloud services remains less than 50 percent and won't cross that mark until 2018, according to Forrester Research.

The reality is that enterprise CIOs still struggle with questions around cloud computing — what to use it for, what vendors to choose, and, perhaps most importantly, how to build a cloud architecture in an organization fraught with legacy systems. Alex Seidita has crafted such an architecture as the chief technology architect for MetLife, a 150-year-old seller of life, auto and other insurance policies.

MetLife, which manages $500 billion in total assets, operates a complex IT ecosystem to run 400 systems of record supporting over 100 million customers spread across 50 countries. But the architecture is loaded with legacy technologies, including IBM mainframes, AS/400 servers, and 400 systems of record running on Windows and Linux servers. That’s quite taxing for a business whose computing capacity must scale as much as 25x to support soaring open enrollment traffic each year.

Since arriving at the company in 2014, Seidita has shepherded a strategic digital transformation that leverages public cloud, containers and microservices to bolster operations and improve the way MetLife serves its customers. Seidita, in a recent discussion with, likened MetLife’s architecture to a house, complete with a roof, four pillars and a foundation. CIOs who are contemplating the cloud would do well to follow his lead.

The roof: Corporate strategy

The roof of Seidita’s metaphoric house includes MetLife's global technology and operations strategy and priorities. "Those priorities, of course, are to drive a differentiated customer experience and drive operating leverage," Seidita says. “It’s not about the cost savings, but speed, which brings savings through automation. The differentiated customer experience is our ability to get to market faster with things.” The inclusion of public cloud, microservices and other emerging technologies under this "roof" underscore how the technologies have been elevated into the broader corporate strategy, Seidita adds.

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