Company: Lynx TechnologyCustomer:

ukSubmitted by: Lynx wanted to sell car insurance direct over the Internet to the widest possible customer base. Unlike other direct insurance providers, it wanted to provide quotes from several insurers online in one email so that customers could directly compare and contrast prices. The company also wanted to cut costs by drastically reducing the amount of paper used. If these factors could be implemented, it estimated it could sell its policies 15 per cent cheaper than its high street rivals.

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E-commerce would also enable it to be more responsive to changes in the insurance market.

Background is a brand new company selling car insurance policies over the Internet to consumers and business partners.Marketing director Martin Trott says: “Our research told us that only one-third of the UK population has access to the Internet, either at work or home, and only a fraction are buying goods.

When they do buy goods, they tend to be small ticket items like CDs or books costing between £10-20 but we expect this number to increase over the next few years. There is also a reluctance to use credit cards to pay for goods on the Internet.”The company wanted to give customers the confidence to buy online and benefit from the web by cutting out the mountains of paper usually associated with insurance policies. Trott says: “We wanted them to be able to view their policy details online, rather than receive an envelope full of confetti, but with the option to print out policy certificates from their own PCs if desired. We also wanted customers to be able to contact an assistant online or via the telephone if they had any queries about products.”Lynx Technology case studyTrott says: “We realised that the web site had to be functionally rich, but simple and easy to use, with clear instructions for the user of what was going to happen in the next screen. Our web site needed to be broad based and support the most popular browsers – Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0 and Netscape 4.

0 and above.”The management team at also recognised that a call centre would be of benefit to customers who did not feel confident tapping in credit or debit card details over the Internet.

Web site demands

The company needed an infrastructure with stability, scalability, manageability and reliability as the web site would be up and running 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.Executives at its4me. also wanted to gain more information about customers through customer relationship management (CRM). It wanted to provide tailored products and services to each customer rather than one size fits all.


Two companies worked co-operatively to create a solution, which met all these needs and more. One being Policy Master, a leading IT company specialising in application software for the insurance industry. Dean Richardson, solutions account executive, Policy Master explains: “Policy Master had previously worked with Paul Cheall, managing director of its4me. He recommended us to the board. We invited leading edge IT services provider Lynx Technology to build an infrastructure for the solution.

The infrastructure

Lynx Technology created a web-based infrastructure on Microsoft Windows 2000, which offers in-built features such as Active Directory and network load balancing for security, manageability and stability.Principal Consultant at Lynx Technology, Richard Proud says: “Before starting the project, we had several pre-sales and design meetings with Policy Master, who authorised the systems design.”We designed and built an infrastructure exclusively based on the Windows 2000 product family. This involved high availability features such as Network Load Balancing Services (NLBS) and Microsoft clustering”.”There were two main elements to this project – the Hosting Centre and the Web Centre. Within the hosting centre, we used two Windows 2000 NLBS servers, which delivered high availability and performance, providing maximum site up time.

The solution ensures future scalability with a capacity to facilitate up to 32 nodes within a cluster”.”At the web centre in Norwich, Windows 2000 was also used as the backbone infrastructure with the Exchange Server being used for messaging which interfaces with the hosting services at Docklands. Exchange Server is configured on a dedicated server with a second server providing file, print and remote access for users with the appropriate privileges”.Engineers supporting the site haven’t been forgotten either. The solution uses Microsoft’s Remote Installation Services with built in technology that stores an image of the standard build of the Windows 2000 PC. This means that it is easy for engineers to rebuild and deploy replacement PCs.

Lynx provides a fully managed support service for the infrastructure for at both their web centre and the UUNET data centre.Mark Hobart, solutions director at Policy Master, says: “One of the deciding factors of using Windows 2000 was its security. It has a 40-bit secure socket layer, which authenticates each user. Once on cover, the customer is given a log on and a password and a security notice tells them about the level of encryption.

“He said that Policy Master also liked the network load balancing services, offering reliability and scalability. “This meant that the availability of the system has been enabled through a software method rather than having to buy another server. It is a significant business benefit.”

The application