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Hill House Hammond chooses IBM Netfinity to run first live Linux installation in the financial sector


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PARIS - 30 Jul 1999: . . . Hill House Hammond, one of the UK's largest insurance intermediaries, providing insurance advice and services to customers through high street branches, has chosen the Linux operating system running on IBM Netfinity servers as its new branch-network computing platform. The deal, thought to be the first live Linux installation in financial services anywhere in the world, supports the company's aggressive growth strategy, which includes trend-bucking plans to retain a strong local-market presence.

"Although we use both the Internet and call centres to market our products, we manage the relationships with our customers through local branches," says Neil Turner, IT Director at Hill House Hammond. "The branches provide us with a competitive edge in terms of customer service, and the Netfinity/Linux solution has enabled us to equip them with a high quality, high performance system that is cost effective."

In September, Hill House Hammond will launch a new branch system which will, for the first time, provide an ISDN connection between the company's local branches, its three call centres and head office. The total order is for 290 Netfinity 3000 servers, one for each of the company's 250 branches and the remainder for development and training purposes. The branch office servers will run Hill House Hammond's sales and services database application. The system has the capacity to generate quotations from a panel of insurers, and to produce a policy document on the spot.

The Netfinity 3000 servers, each equipped with a Pentium II processor, 64MB of RAM and 9.1GB of hard disk storage, will provide the power and scalability to cope with a continuing, rapid rise in business volumes.

"We wanted a high-quality server from a recognised supplier who could also offer excellent service and support," says Neil Turner. "The IBM Netfinity 3000 hardware solution, backed by the experienced and knowledgeable consultancy team of the Anix group, met these criteria and fitted in with our strategy of creating a solid IT infrastructure that we could use to spearhead future growth."

"In addition, an innovative development by Pick Systems, the production of a combined operating system/application installation and configuration procedure run from a single CD-ROM, greatly simplified the roll-out process and was pivotal to the smooth and successful incorporation of our new systems within the Hill House Hammond network."

Hill House Hammond chose Red Hat Linux as the Netfinity operating system (OS) in preference to Windows NT or other 'commercial' versions of UNIX. As an Open Source OS, Linux will contribute to the cost efficiency of the branch network, an essential factor in business growth. Linux also offers compatibility with existing systems, and provides the perfect platform to run the Pick D3 ® multidimensional database and development environment that Hill House Hammond use for both their branch offices and core systems.

In Hill House Hammond's call centres, the company's sales and services database is currently run on high-end IBM RS/6000 servers under AIX, the IBM implementation of UNIX. In September, the software will be transferred to a new enterprise-class IBM RS/6000 SP server, also running AIX, at Hill House Hammond's Bristol head office. This will facilitate the live connection throughout the company's sites. Each will run the same version of the application and database, with full compatibility between AIX and Linux.

"We are delighted that the first live Linux installation in the financial sector will run on Netfinity servers," says Thomas Henkel, Director of Netfinity Sales, EMEA "As part of its strategy of wide-ranging Linux support, IBM is committed to working with Hill House Hammond to ensure the continued success of this innovative project."

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IBM press releases are available at http://www.ibm.com/press

Information about IBM Netfinity products and services is located at http://www.ibm.com/pc/europe/netfinity

IBM, Netfinity, RS/6000 and AIX are trademarks or registered trademarks of International Business Machines Corp.

Windows NT is a trademark of Microsoft Corp.

LINUX is a trademark of Linus Torvalds

Red Hat Linux is a registered trademark of Red Hat, Inc

Pick D3 is a trademark of Pick Systems Ltd

Other company, product and service names may be the trademarks or service marks of others.