Scottish Life


Set up in 1861, Royal London is the second largest mutual insurer in the UK with funds under management of around £24.7 billion (as at 31st December 2004). Scottish Life, the biggest brand in the Royal London stable, has been a user of Unisys Clearpath (NX6800) mainframes for many years and Unisys V Series mainframes prior to that. Scottish Life has developed its core application software over a long period and provided it to Unisys as the basis for the Unisure package currently marketed by Unisys to a range of financial organizations. In 2004 Scottish Life decided to lower their cost base by moving to Unix equipment with MSS International’s migrate!LINC and migrate!COBOL tools. MSS performed the core modernization with Scottish Life testing and modifying the resulting code to their satisfaction. The DMSII databases were ported to Oracle 9i and Oracle and MicroFocus development tools were used. The modernization took 17 months and involved a team of Scottish Life staff of up to 40. The migrate!LINC toolset was used to automatically modernize the Linc screen presentation to Oracle Forms and business logic to PL/SQL. For the batch Scottish Life chose SqC as the target for most of the code for performance reasons – SqC generates native C code which executes very fast on the HP-UX platform. For other programs MSS migrated Linc batch code to PL/SQL. Migrate!COBOL was used to convert the Cobol systems to MicroFocus Cobol85. The screen presentation was handled by the MSS migrate!SDF system which generates screen layout files and Cobol libraries to provide a functional equivalent to the mainframe SDF system. The MSS mcs!LITE product was used as a TP monitor and Cobol send/receive verbs automatically translated to calls on the api. Both the Linc and Cobol systems were large scale – the Linc systems consisted of 2600 ispecs (screen layouts), 4400 global logic routines and 3900 reports (batch programs) and the Cobol systems totaled 2.5m lines of code. Additionally many Algol modules existed and had to be replaced in some way.

“We are experiencing a rapid ROI as we have effectively halved the operating costs of our Scottish Life systems. In addition we have dramatically improved performance, increased the quality of service to our customers and implemented a contemporary IT infrastructure that helps us respond faster to the business.”

CPU NX6800 HP Itanium / RISC
Database DMSII Oracle
Language Cobol / Linc Micro Focus / Cobol / PL SQL / C
Data Comm COMS MCS!Lite



The primary Linc system was very large and complex. The scale itself was not such a problem for the modernization tool since it processes the mdl (Linc application definition export) files at a fast rate. However the complexity of the code, especially database access within nested loops proved to be an issue. The Cobol systems were even more of a challenge and the initial estimate for the work involved proved to be completely inadequate and had to be re-visited. When looked at in detail, most of the Cobol systems were written in the 1980s for Unisys V series and had been already converted once in order to be run on Clearpath NX. The original data definitions were still in place and, in many cases, V Series style data was handled by Algol library routines that were called at runtime to manipulate data from files. The files themselves were defined in different ways in different programs. The database definition and data would also have to be migrated with integrity checks on the data as it ‘landed’ in the target Oracle database. Underlying all of this effort were the usual difficulties of moving from one operating environment to a very different one. At a low level this entailed moving from a 48 bit EBCDIC environment to a 64 bit ASCII machine. At a higher level, all the tools and utilities are different and staff retraining was required.

Private Sector
Business Problem:

Scottish Life is the biggest brand within Royal London, a group encompassing several organisations in the UK Life Assurance and Pensions industry. The company is based in Edinburgh and has an extremely effective application suite for managing its business and handles a high volume of business – 200,000 online transactions and an 11 hour overnight batch run every day. In 2004 Scottish Life were faced with an upcoming mainframe upgrade that would cost many millions of pounds. Having had a bad experience with a previous upgrade combined with a desire for a more modern platform they were looking for a solution that could save cost and provide a mainstream way forward for future development.

Business Solution:

Scottish Life approached MSS to investigate the possibilities of moving to Unix hardware and Oracle software. Once they saw the range of possibilities that working with Oracle could give them, they were convinced that this was the right solution. By moving out of a (single-supplier) mainframe situation and into the competitive Unix marketplace, enormous capital savings were offered. After an exhaustive evaluation including detailed benchmarks, Scottish Life chose Hewlett Packard to supply a mixture of Itanium and RISC based servers – at a fraction of the cost of the Unisys mainframe that would have been required. The modernization project was accomplished and went live in October 2005. It was noticed straight away that performance in certain areas, especially the batch work, was substantially improved while the costs had diminished. Royal London estimate a 70% saving in on-going costs for their main IT platform, have a more productive system than before and are well-positioned for future development.


The modernization was completed in 17 months and went live in October 2005. The system ran successfully from day one with no major failures and much improved performance – the 11 hour daily batch was cut to 7 hours - and Scottish Life are well pleased with the result. “The modernization has saved 70% of our 5 year IT cost” says Neil Hughes, IT Director at Scottish Life. “We can now move forward with a much lower cost base and take advantage of the interoperability and features that Oracle and Unix can offer us”

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