has two data centers, and most of its applications run at both locations at the same time. This means that the system will continue to work even if a disaster occurs at one of the locations. The first data center is located at CM's head office in Schaarbeek, and until 2011 the second data center was also managed internally at a different location. “When that building was closed we started to look for an external partner,” explained Koen Crabbe, ICT Infrastructure Director at CM. “We wanted to select a robust, well-managed, Belgian data center that could also guarantee good access to data. In LCL we found a brand-new, state-of-the-art data center that was able to make firm guarantees in the area of security.”
Customer-focused approach proves a key advantage
A data center consists of much more than technology, and people play a key role, Koen Crabbe stressed. “We are very happy with the way things are done at LCL. The staff are competent and dedicated, and they have a very personal, customer-focused approach, which makes our day-to-day working relationship very smooth.”
This was first seen early on, when CM's servers were migrated to a client room in Diegem. “An LCL employee was freed up specially to work with us, and he steered the migration in the right direction. The entire process went without a hitch, and we encountered no problems as regards the availability and accessibility of our data.”
According to CM, the fact that LCL has data centers in three different locations is another advantage. “If we ever decide to outsource our first data center as well, we know that we could relocate to LCL's data center in Aalst, for example, and the data connection between the two locations would be reliable. We would be able to continue to expand at LCL's premises, and this means all kinds of scenarios are possible in future.”
24/7 transaction processing
Besides confidential information on CM's 4.5 million members, the details of all former CM members are also stored under strict conditions. In effect, the personal data of almost half of Belgium's population are stored on those servers. It goes without saying that CM's main concern, and that of LCL, is the security of this data.
Moreover, good connectivity is one of CM's main demands. CM has more than 1,000 virtual servers that process between 1.5 million and 2 million transactions on a daily basis, resulting in payments worth some € 50 million every day. These transactions involve matters such as doctor's notes, hospital and pharmacy bills, and payments to people who are incapacitated for work. There are therefore substantial data flows between CM and hospitals, care providers, the National Institute for Health and Disability Insurance (INAMI-RIZIV), the Crossroads Bank for Enterprises and the Crossroads Bank for Social Security.
“Whenever any of our members visits a pharmacist, their identity is established by checking their ID card. A connection to CM's systems is made at the same time, and once their CM membership status has been confirmed they only need to pay their personal contribution towards the costs. As the entire system needs to work perfectly at all times, including at night and on weekends, we need to be able to count on our data centers and data connections being operational on a 24/7 basis,” Crabbe stressed.
CM is a good example
Laurens van Reijen, LCL's Managing Director, is also very happy with the working relationship with CM. “Although people never stop to think about the ICT infrastructure required to arrange their reimbursements whenever they attach a yellow sticker to a doctor's note, in terms of data storage and traffic CM is one of Belgium's major players. We are, of course, very proud of the fact that the country's largest health insurance fund has entrusted its data center to us.”
“The increase in digitization means that more and more organizations, ranging from companies to government agencies, need their servers and network to operate dependably on a 24/7 basis,” Laurens van Reijen said. “For these organizations, CM is a good example of how a corporate network can be set up and managed in a professional manner.”