ICE InsureTech Core Architecture – a look at how we have adapted “The New Architecture” to suit our insurance solutions
ICE InsureTech recently published a new vision whitepaper that details how we have adapted what Celent refers to as “The New Architecture” to our own software development. Written by our Chief Technology Officer, Al Robertson, the full whitepaper is available from our secured downloads area which can be accessed here.
In the whitepaper, we look at the facets of three core aspects of this architecture, specifically our journey to a cloud native app, our views on microservice architectures, and our use of APIs. We have included an extract from the white paper below.
Cloud Native vs Cloud Ready
ICE InsureTech have always supported various deployment scenarios; on-premise, third-party datacentre, and more recently public cloud. The use of the term “The Cloud” has become ubiquitous in modern IT speak, but essentially “The Cloud” really is just someone else’s computer.
The ability to deploy our applications to the public cloud makes them Cloud Ready. Being Cloud Ready only really offers a small set of advantages over any traditional hosted application – essentially just using The Cloud as an offsite compute and data storage facility, and lowering the wait times that can occur with infrastructure procurement and on-premise hosting.
So what is Cloud Native?
Despite its name, a cloud-native approach is not focused on where applications are deployed, but instead on how they are built, deployed and managed.
Cloud-native application development is an approach to building and running an application that can take full advantage of the cloud computing model based on four key tenets:
- Service Based Architecture
- Microservice or SOA
- APIs For Communication
- Public / Open Business / Private APIs
- Use of Containers
- Linux Containers / Container Images – Packaged Applications
- Container Orchestration
- Continuous Integration / Continuous Delivery
- Auto scale, Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
ICE’s journey to Cloud Native
In 2004 all ICE deployments were on “bare-metal” infrastructure, hand crafted to achieve maximum efficiency from the computing resources available.
Around ten years ago we progressed to deployment on Virtual Machines (VMs), with every architectural component deployed inside its own VM. This enabled each component to be templated and run in isolation, with the trade-off of additional resources needed to host a full operating system, maintenance overhead of the OS, middleware, application and configuration on every VM.
2 years ago ICE InsureTech started using Linux container technology, a significant progression in our cloud native strategy.
Linux containers are lightweight and efficient when compared to more traditional virtualisation solutions. Many containers can run on the same host sharing the OS kernel with other containers, each running as isolated processes in user space. Containers use less resource than traditional VMs to make more efficient use of infrastructure and they start almost instantly. They are also extremely portable across Clouds and lend themselves perfectly to distributed architectures.
Any organisation wanting to run multiple containers in a production environment is going to need to manage them effectively.
Container orchestration (dynamic container management) is the principle of using a software based controller to manage container life-cycles and networking in order for them to run as intended. Our container orchestration software allows us to automatically scale components to suit variable demand and make use of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), if available.
Auto-scaling using IaaS is especially important where there are significant variations between peak and trough demand. It lowers the requirements for capital expenditure, not having to provision infrastructure for peak demand periods and allows us to offer the flexibility of a Pay-as-you-Go (PAYG) model. We believe this is an important feature of the ICE solutions.
At ICE InsureTech, we believe in continuous improvement, and our core platform architecture is no exception. Technology is evolving, at a greater pace now than ever before. When do you jump on the train? If you jump at every next big thing, you will be forever refactoring. If you wait for the perfect architecture / framework / pattern to come along, you will never innovate or improve. Each of our eight new clients in the last 12 months has selected the ICE cloud native option. We have a great team combining thought leadership in insurance and technology, and an enviable track record for timely delivery, speedy implementation and customer satisfaction.