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SAN FRANCISCO — Liberty Mutual CIO John Heveran has a message for enterprises looking to move to the cloud, deploy microservices, take on DevOps, and all the other software-defined things that fall into the digital transformation bucket.

“Be bold in your vision,” Heveran said during a Pivotal SpringOne Platform keynote. “Be ambitious, and whatever you do, don’t constrain yourself with the past.”

The global insurance company wanted to move 60 percent of its workloads to the cloud and have 75 percent of its technology staff writing code. It needed to deploy applications faster, and it wanted a vendor that could teach its employees to migrate these workloads and build new cloud native apps.

Liberty Mutual chose Pivotal to help with all this.

“Our technology manifesto — the idea was to really change how we were developing software,” Heveran said. “We really focused on this idea of coding over planning. So with this partner, Pivotal, what we really needed from them was the ability to not just drive the car for us, but teach us how to do it ourselves and really empower us to embrace this journey.”

Liberty Mutual started with an on-site “dojo” where its developers worked alongside Pivotal engineers to learn Pivotal Cloud Foundry (PCF), an open source cloud native platform. PCF allows companies to deploy applications to multiple cloud platforms, both private and public, as well as on bare-metal servers, with no changes to the application.

During day one of the dojo, the team members identified key applications to deploy on PCF. They started coding on day two.

“For a company like us, this was radical,” Heveran said. “No roadmaps, no spreadsheets, just people with [post-it] stickies and code.”

Within 10 weeks, the company had 10 production-ready applications, including a mission-critical underwriter portal. “We took the biggest application we had, the ultimate monolith that supports $4 billion of our $10 billion in revenue for commercial insurance.”

As of now, the company runs 10 percent of its workloads on PCF and has moved 50 WebSphere Application Server (WAS) apps to the platform. These are used to connect website users with Java applications.

It grew from 50 to 250 software engineers using PCF, and 25 percent of its apps and services are released weekly, or faster. “Where we were deploying monthly or quarterly before, many apps are in a position to deploy daily,” Heveran said.

This isn’t to say that all of these millions of lines of code execute perfectly on the first try, he added. “And that’s the beauty of software. If you screw it up, you can fix it.”

Photo: Liberty Mutual SVP and CIO John Heveran on stage at the SpringOne Platform developer conference.

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