Teachers Assurance


Teachers Assurance is an organization of nearly 200 staff based in Bournemouth in the south of England. Its business is providing Life Assurance, Pensions, General Insurance and other financial services. They requested MSS International to study their Unisys mainframe environment and propose a plan for its conversion to run on a Windows platform using Oracle database software and tools.


The major technical issues of the modernization were identified by the study and their resolutions agreed at an early stage in the modernization process. The TACDB Linc application that was in use at Teachers is an on-line system for supporting the Life & Pensions business activities at Teachers. It was developed in the Unisys 4GL (LINC), with some initial input from Unisys and parts of it form the basis for the Unisys 'Unisure' product. However, Unisys has no claim on the Teachers software since documentation exists on the original development agreement between Teachers and Unisys. Many of the database access statements required some simple tuning, which was accomplished in the scope of the project. The amount of database tuning necessary varies with the style in which the application was written. In Teachers case, the online ispecs tended to use common database resources and interfere with one another, which required more tuning than the average project. MSS provided training and assistance with the tuning sub-project, as well as contributing a large part of the effort. The final result was that most of the programs now run faster on the Windows platform than they did on the original Unisys mainframe.

Private Sector
Business Problem:

Teachers had been undergoing strategic change in recent years, and had re-engineered its organization to be one of the most efficient in the industry. A part of this strategic change was a move towards server based IT operation and away from proprietary hardware and software environments.

Business Solution:

The primary goal of the project was to move the current Life & Pensions application to a new standard platform using the MSS Linc to Oracle automated modernization package, migrate!LINC. After the modernization, the Life & Pensions system would run on the strategic operating system, Microsoft Windows , with standard Oracle database, Developer/2000 and Programmer/2000 software. MSS performed a pilot modernization of a sub-set of the TACDB system. This allowed progress to be made on the modernization in parallel with other projects, making best use of time available. The pilot also proved the modernization methodology and allowed both parties to work closely together at an early stage. The modernization inventory comprised 850 ispecs (screens) and 350 reports (batch programs). This takes into account many programs that were identified as not required in the new environment. MSS modernized some of the extra programs without proving/warranting them so that they could be used as a basis for future development. The database specification and database data were modernized using MSS automated software. No normalization or redesign was attempted and all DMSII constructs were created as their Oracle equivalents. The only DMSII construct not having a relational equivalent, an automatic subset (profile), was recreated functionally by generating a cursor with the appropriate selection condition and an index. All existing Algol programs were identified as Unisys-specific and redundant in the new environment. The job control programs (WFLs) were rewritten by Teachers Assurance operations staff as QMaster schedules and scripts. The automated approach was not taken because of their Unisys mainframe specific nature.


The modernization project was completed over a 9 month time period. The initial goal was to complete the modernization by the over a 6 month time period, as the Unisys licenses were due to expire in 6 months. Unisys had indicated that they would withdraw all support at this point and not renew licenses except under very unfavorable terms. When it became apparent to Unisys that the modernization was inevitable, they changed their attitude and negotiated a reasonable monthly charge for continued use of the mainframe beyond the 6 month period. This allowed Teachers to complete their other projects as well as the modernization without working under undue pressure. The final result is that the system was thoroughly tested by users as well as IT staff and well accepted. The implementation has been extremely smooth and no support calls relating to postimplementation faults have so far been received by MSS.

Project Presentation:
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