Partners Life is a Kiwi owned life insurance firm. Information is the company’s
lifeblood, and after five years of rapid growth they wanted to make sure they were
getting maximum value from their data.
Theta implemented a Microsoft IaaS business intelligence solution on Azure.
Partners Life is already seeing benefits from their cloud setup with better, faster,
more accessible and more user-friendly reporting and analytics.
Better business intelligence for a fast-growing company
Mark Lewis, Partners Life’s GM Software Development, describes their existing BI
“We had a homegrown Microsoft SSRS data warehouse and reporting
environment, but it was time to take it to the next level, with dashboards and
“As our company has grown fast, in a highly regulated industry, we have increasing
regulatory requirements to meet. Our reporting was no longer fit for purpose - we
needed a business solution backed by robust support, ongoing development and
auditing. Theta’s proposal for BI in the cloud, on Azure, ticked all those boxes.”
On the leading edge of technology
Partners Life has an aggressive and forward thinking approach to technology,
preferring Microsoft and cloud technologies. Our cloud BI solution reflects that
stance, with an eye to the future too. Says BI Manager Josh Frankland:
“In 6-8 months we’ll review our technology stack and see whether we can push
anything into more fluid technologies. We’re constantly reviewing and leveraging
the cool things that the tools can do.”
The benefits of this approach are clear:
“Agility is a major one for us,” says Frankland. “Part of our strategy is that we
need to be able to scale quickly. With BI in Azure, we can turn things on and off
This has implications for areas like personnel management. Says Mark Lewis:
“We have been working with a company that scans and processes our incoming
mail (electronic and snail-mail). We needed to bring on additional processing
capability in Indonesia, this was up and running within a couple of days thanks to
“It’s so great not to have servers lying around any more. I just don’t have to worry
about hardware at all. Now my focus can be on what we need to do to fulfill
the needs of our users – it allows me to be much more proactive and forward
Under the hood
The solution is based on Microsoft Azure IaaS (Infrastructure as a service)
offering. All BI components are hosted in Windows Azure D13 virtual machines
which includes SQL Server 2014 Enterprise Edition, Integration Services, Analysis
Services, Reporting Services and Power BI. One server is configured for each
environment; Production, UAT, and Development.
The BI Server hosts the following components:
- Microsoft SQL Server 2014 Enterprise databases (ODS and DW)
- SSIS Extract, Transform and Load (ETL) framework
- Analysis Services Tabular Models providing access to pre-aggregated data,
complex measures and KPIs, and dimensional attributes through a fully
descriptive Semantic Layer for each business area.
- SSRS portal hosting standard structured reports that users can access
directly or subscribe to for automatic delivery. Some report subscriptions are
data-driven and used for exceptions notifications and alerts.
- Self-service BI and dashboards are implemented using Microsoft Power BI
services accessing the Analytical Tabular Models on the BI Server using the
Power BI Analysis Services Connector, where business users’ domain logins
are setup on the BI Server to allow row level access security to the Tabular
Daily full backups of all databases are kept in an Azure Blob storage.