In 2019, 132-year old European financial services company Allianz SE founded Allianz Direct in response to disruption in the insurance space. To keep up with digital-first competitors, like the big four (GAFA), Allianz Direct developed digital models for selling insurance direct to consumers via its website. Today, it sells auto, home and travel insurance in four markets: Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and Spain. 

Legacy CI/CD pipeline couldn’t keep pace

To compete in the changing insurance space, Allianz Direct knew it required advanced technologies built for agility, elasticity and high uptime. This led it first to the public cloud, then to cloud native tools and methods like GitOps and infrastructure as code. By May 2021, however, one critical element of its IT environment remained unchanged: The CI/CD pipeline. 

As a digital company serving a multinational audience, Allianz Direct needed a level of speed and agility the pipeline could not deliver. They did not directly own the pipeline, which made it a black box requiring outside support whenever issues arose. Extending or upgrading it proved difficult due to high coupling and unmanaged complexity. It was built on two Jenkins instances—one for production, another for non-productive environments—with more than 200 jobs. Also, the source and configuration code lived in a single repository, so any configuration change forced a full build-deploy cycle. Due to this complexity, some simple tasks took surprisingly long. For example, adding a new build node or updating Java could take 30 minutes or longer.

Cloud native upgrades & team collaboration fuel new CI/CD machine 

The DevOps team set out to build a totally new CI/CD pipeline. They knew this would require both cutting-edge cloud native tooling and also collaboration with everyone impacted—DevOps and software engineers, security specialists, etc. They all put their heads together to assemble the tools needed for the new pipeline; nine out of a total of eleven are CNCF projects, including Tekton to build/integrate and ArgoCD to deploy. 

The new release pipeline, completed in just three months, has simplified and streamlined CI/CD processes for greater speed, agility and responsiveness. It contains just 10-15 workflows—versus the previous 200—with clear owners, and with twice the quality and security tests as the old one, it still deploys faster. Tekton and ArgoCD place configuration and source code in different repositories, so configuration changes now take just a minute. Ownership of their pipeline has also made troubleshooting easier, with fewer support requests needed. 

Another positive outcome is the strengthening of team collaboration. The pipeline project required greater communication and cooperation amongst teams, which has happily lasted into the present. 

“It’s not enough just to have the technical process. You need a lean organization and a DevOps engineering culture with everyone playing their role.” – Sergiu Petean, Head of Devops at Allianz Direct

Read more about Allianz Direct’s journey.