Progressive Insurance uses SQL Server 2014 to advance its online experience

Sean Dudley
Sean Dudley
By Sean Dudley on 24 April 2014
Progressive Insurance uses SQL Server 2014 to advance its online experience

Progressive Insurance has turned to Microsoft SQL Server 2014 to help deliver a consistent and reliable online customer experience. 

One of the largest car insurers in the US, the company’s policy-serving web app enables customers to make purchases, cancellations, renewals and change account information for their auto insurance policy.

The company wanted to update its web app and introduce its ‘special lines’ business, which covers
motorcycles, recreational vehicles, boats, and Segway electric scooters.

However, The company’s management was concerned that overtaxing of the session-state database associated with the policy-serving app may occur. This database ran on an existing version of Microsoft SQL Server and holds XML files, which are written for every active web page a customer visits. These files are then used to synchronise data and enable the customer to see consistent information across the website.

Fears were also raised about whether or not the database would be able to handle the increased load without an expensive increase in hardware. Some of the company’s other session-state databases had experienced outages, a problem Progressive wanted to avoid.

Progressive turned to Microsoft SQL Server 2014 and its In-Memory OLTP feature to help update the database.

Microsoft SQL Server 2014’s In-Memory online transaction processing (OLTP) can host tables and databases in a server’s working memory which can then be accessed directly by an application. This results in better performance, central processing unit use and reliability. 

Progressive Insurance carried out a series of tests and modified eight natively compiled stored procedures using already-documented code. These tests saw the In-Memory OLTP boosted from 5,000 transactions per second to between 21,000-23,000.

Thanks to SQL Server 2014, Progressive can run a single, larger database and avoid the costs of multiple databases.

“Our IT leadership team gave us the numbers we had to meet to support the increased database workload, and we far exceeded those numbers using Microsoft In-Memory OLTP,” said Craig Lanford, IT Manager at Progressive. “We expect this to give us the ability to scale the application on our standard hardware.”

Progressive’s customers are also benefiting from a better online experience, with auto and special-lines business integrated into a single app.

“Both customers and employees use the policy-servicing app; it’s the central user interface to Progressive,” said Mary J. Groth, database analyst consultant at Progressive. “We need to make sure that we continue to provide a great online experience even as we continue to grow. We can use SQL Server to help make that possible.”

The company also acquired a big data appliance with Microsoft Analytics Platform System (APS) capabilities to help better support predictive analysis.

“We achieved jaw-dropping increases in processing speed with the Analytics Platform System,” said Lanford. “There were queries that we couldn’t otherwise complete on-premises that ran in just two minutes on the appliance.”

Progressive has moved two of its structured analytics applications to the APS and is set to move 20 more over the next few years. 

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