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Westfund Health Insurance

An Australian health insurer with a rich past moves toward a limitless data future enabled by Canary IT and NetApp hybrid cloud.


Westfund Logo White Backgroud
An Australian health insurer with a rich past moves toward a limitless data future enabled by Canary IT and NetApp hybrid cloud.
Westfund upgrade and migration project of moving workloads to the cloud has achieved 4X improvement in storage performance, from 28 secs to 1 sec in application wait time and $100K savings annually in wages by reduced wait times.
Westfund are now at the point where their infrastructure and bandwidth are ready for them to pursue a truly cloud-first approach, without compromising on cost or security.

About Westfund

Westfund Health Insurance helped to forge the private health industry in Australia back in 1953 – with origins dating back to 1881. Westfund has evolved a lot since then but one thing that’s remained the same is their care for all Australians. Westfund Health Insurance, as the fund is known today, is proud to provide cover for over 110,000 individuals across the country.

Westfund is an insurer with a long, proud history operating in a market that is closely regulated. They are highly data-dependent in their interactions with customers, medical care providers, and other systems. As with every industry today, the data demands are growing exponentially, requiring regular refreshes of the underlying storage infrastructure. 


The Challenge

To make sure that their data demands are carefully managed, Westfund launched an upgrade and migration project, with the goal of moving workloads to the cloud. With this step, Westfund has achieved performance improvements and cost savings. NetApp® A-Series arrays and NetApp ONTAP® data management software support hybrid data centres that are faster, easier to manage, and deliver new opportunities for innovation.

Due to regulations and other factors, there is a parity in insurance offerings, so differentiation in the market focuses on service delivery. Westfund needed a storage infrastructure that could support not just theminimum requirements but that would support new requests and initiatives.

For Daniel McLoughlan, technical services manager at Westfund, the need to upgrade is an opportunity. “The more and more digitised we become, the faster that grows our electronic documents, photographic evidence, receipts and such have driven that significantly,” McLoughlan said. “That’s growth we want because it provides better service."

The Solution

After strategic planning and a tender process with their trusted IT service provider Canary Technology Solutions, NetApp and the AFF A-Series arrays would win the day. The tight integration of NetApp ONTAP and VMware made sticking with both for the upgrade an easy decision. 


In the last couple of years, the national telcos had made significant investments that would solve bandwidth issues, making the move to a cloud-enabled data centre and future off-site storage an easy decision. Westfund would make the performance gains and take advantage of cloud at the same time.

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Business Outcomes

Drastic Improvement in Performance

So noticeable was the improvement that some users reported something “wrong.” “It solved for us the need for speed and storage space,” McLoughlan said. “But that directly translates to good service, efficient service and responsiveness.” The service impact was felt directly by Westfund staff and the customers they serve. Claims application wait times were reduced from 28 seconds to less than one second almost overnight. The employee productivity gains, simply being able to help people faster and thus help more people, equal an annual savings of $100k AUS. Performance improvement is having new impact on the IT development teams as well, giving them the speed needed to develop test and deploy much faster than before. Projects that would have created a drag on the production performance can now be executed with confidence.

“From a development cycle perspective, it’s back to almost instantaneous.”, McLoughlan said “The strategic plan has been accelerated significantly. The advantage is that we were able to move forward on a lot of the offerings.”

Disasters Avoided, Costs Saved 

In addition to performance improvement, application availability has been enhanced through the integrations of NetApp ONTAP with VMware Site Recovery Manager. Now Westfund can use offsite DR in a on-premises or a hybrid-cloud future, the processes and tooling are the same. One button recoverability and DR testing capabilities enhance the value of the VMware environment and the NetApp storage infrastructure. Integration also means smaller administration footprint, it requires fewer people to manage it, allowing them to focus on higher-value projects.

Responsiveness Delivery of New Services 

The upgrade and an eventual migration of the data centre from
onsite Lithgow to offsite Sydney and to multi-cloud platforms will also go  long way to improve the availability and security of corporate systems. Use of the cloud for disaster recovery will help reduce costs, minimise the need for additional IT staff, and ensure the insurer can
meet any governance, risk and compliance guidelines.

The investment is going to help with Westfund with more predicable costs and additional opportunities for savings, such as reducing the need for IT staff to manage different platforms. NetApp ONTAP for
storage management in a hybrid environment does it all, on-premises, in the cloud, production, development, DR, from a single view.

Cloud-First Future Strategy

Westfund is in an enviable position, as the company is just now beginning its cloud journey. A few applications and sites have utilised the cloud but the future presents opportunities to improve critical business services and create entirely new services that leverage on-demand capacity and cost efficiency.

“We’re now at the point where our infrastructure and our bandwidth are ready for us to pursue a truly cloud first approach, but without compromising on cost or security and without being stuck. And NetApp enables that. It enables freedom of choice.”

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