Amandeep Bajwa, Sudeep John – AWS
Noel Gelineau, Rob Koop – Wawanesa
Doug Boehme, Brian Vannoni – Guidewire

The Wawanesa Mutual Insurance Company is one of the leading Property & Casualty (P&C) insurance companies in Canada. Wawanesa’s strategy was to revamp its digital channels and enhance the user experience while leveraging the agility provided by cloud-based solutions. To achieve this vision, Wawanesa decided to migrate their on-premises Guidewire platform to the Guidewire Cloud Platform (GWCP). Guidewire is the market-leading provider of a cloud service platform for the P&C insurance industry that integrates digital, core, analytics, and AI functionalities. This blog describes the Wawanesa Guidewire migration from inception to implementation, including challenges faced, lessons learned, and business outcomes achieved.

Prior state and challenges
Wawanesa used the Guidewire self-managed InsuranceSuite platform (version 8) to manage policies, claims, and billing. InsuranceSuite also integrates with systems such as Informatica, MicroStrategy, Guidewire Agent Portal, Quote and Buy, and Account Management via MuleSoft. The underlying database layer had separate Oracle databases for each Guidewire application: PolicyCenter, BillingCenter, ClaimCenter, and ContactManager.

There were several reasons for Wawanesa to upgrade its Guidewire platform. First, Wawanesa’s strategy is to prioritize high-quality service for members and evolve the digital user experience by using GWCP’s API-centric architecture and modernized digital platform. Also, InsuranceSuite version 8 was soon to enter extended support, while GWCP is enhanced continually with new features and capabilities. Finally, GWCP is architected to be an upgrade from self-managed InsuranceSuite, preserving and extending existing investments made by insurers. Migrating to the GWCP allows Wawanesa to future-proof its operations and meet their strategic objectives.

Guidewire on-premises architecture before migration

Figure 1 – Guidewire on-premises architecture before migration


Guidewire migration included upgrading the four InsuranceSuite applications to the GWCP Dobson release. The initiative also included migrating data from on-premises Oracle databases to Amazon Aurora, and ingesting data from GWCP into Wawanesa’s AWS account to support operational and reporting processes. Amazon Aurora provides built-in security, continuous backups, serverless compute, up to 15 read replicas, automated multi-region replication, and integrations with other AWS services.

Solution options for Replicating Data

Given the importance of operational processes relying on Guidewire, data integrity and system continuity was crucial to Wawanesa. Wawanesa’s IT organization minimized risk during this migration by replicating the GWCP transactional Aurora database into Wawanesa’s AWS account, and maintaining the Guidewire database structure for backward capability if needed.

Wawanesa, Guidewire, and AWS considered the below 6 options to replicate data from GWCP to Wawanesa:

1. GWCP Amazon S3 bucket: Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) is an object storage service offering industry-leading scalability, data availability, security, and performance. This approach allows customers to ingest the detailed data (Apache Parquet files) to their environment – preferably a data lake or as a source for operational systems. While this approach provides access to granular data, the downside is that it requires recreating relationships across hundreds of Parquet files.

2. Guidewire InsuranceSuite APIs: This approach provides access to data via Guidewire APIs, allowing customers to integrate their applications. The approach delivers information at the business process level, but not detailed transactional data.

3. Guidewire Cloud Platform Aurora Read Replica: This approach provides access to data from an Aurora read replica made available by Guidewire’s VPC to be accessed by Wawanesa. It allows access to detailed transactional information that maintains relationships between data.

4. Streaming Aurora replica using AWS Database Migration Service (DMS): AWS Database Migration Service (AWS DMS) is a managed migration and replication service that helps move your database and analytics workloads to AWS quickly, securely, and with minimal downtime and zero data loss. This solution is a variant of the previous approach, and streams data from the Guidewire Aurora database in real-time into a Wawanesa’s account.

5. AWS Cloud Data Access (CDA) Connector for Guidewire: The AWS CDA Connector can be deployed on Amazon Elastic MapReduce (EMR) in Wawanesa’s environment. This scalable, cost-effective offering from AWS is often used by other Guidewire customers to access data in real-time.

6. Apache Camel-based Guidewire Integration Gateway: This is Guidewire’s recommended approach for building an event-driven solution, which allows customers to subscribe to and consume the business events in which they’re interested.

Wawanesa chose streaming their Aurora replica using DMS (Option 4) because it allowed them to leverage their existing on-premise ETL and reporting infrastructure without impacting existing business processes. Wawanesa understood that this was a short-term solution and that, longer-term, is exploring solutions such as AWS CDA Connector.

Migration to Guidewire Cloud

To prepare for the migration, Wawanesa ran DBCC, DBStats, DB Data Distribution report, Checksum, and took full Oracle export of InsuranceSuite databases. The Oracle Data Pump exports were transferred to an S3 Bucket in Guidewire’s AWS account, which Guidewire loaded into a temporary staging area in Oracle RDS. Additionally, Change Data Capture (CDC) using DMS replicated ongoing changes between the on-premises Guidewire Oracle database and GWCP Aurora database.

Over the upgrade weekend, on-premises Guidewire applications and DBs were shut down after the final incremental load to the temporary RDS Oracle was completed. There were a few small and volatile tables from which Oracle exports were loaded into GWCP. Once all the data successfully was loaded to GWCP, InsuranceSuite version 8 DBs were upgraded to the Dobson cloud release. After that upgrade to the latest version’s database schema, the underlying database was migrated from Oracle to Aurora PostgreSQL in GWCP.

Guidewire and Wawanesa performed final migration validation by running data validation scripts on the on-premises InsuranceSuite and Dobson releases and comparing the results. The GWCP databases were backed-up using Aurora snapshots stored in the GWCP’s S3 bucket, and copied to Wawanesa’s RDS snapshot repository. This enabled Wawanesa to re-create the GWCP databases and set up GWCP non-production environments.

Replicating data

Wawanesa needed real-time access to Guidewire data without changing existing operational processes, so the team selected the Aurora streaming replica solution after validating it with a Proof of Concept (POC). This solution used DMS to replicate data from GWCP Aurora writer node to the Aurora database in Wawanesa’s environment.

Guidewire Cloud Platform data replication

Figure 2 – Guidewire Cloud Platform data replication

If accessing real-time data wasn’t needed, an alternate approach would have been to share snapshots of the Aurora database as shown below.

Sharing Amazon Aurora snapshot

Figure 3 – Sharing Amazon Aurora snapshot

Guidewire’s recommended approach is to use Cloud Data Access (CDA) to load data from GWCP to a customer’s environment. The AWS CDA Connector is a Spark application that deploys an Open Source Reader (OSR ) jar file to Amazon EMR to ingest data into a data lake or to another data store (e.g., Amazon Redshift or Aurora). Since CDA understands the relationships amongst base Guidewire tables, it simplifies data processing or ETL logic.

Guidewire Cloud Data Access

Figure 4 – Guidewire Cloud Data Access

Key Considerations

Given our experience at Wawanesa, below are considerations and recommendations for Guidewire Cloud migrations.

Optimize networking infrastructure based on the volume of data and GWCP data access/replication solution implemented. In Wawanesa’s case, an existing 10GB Direct Connect connection migrated on-premises data to GWCP and replicated GWCP data back to Wawanesa’s AWS accounts. AWS PrivateLink secured the data transfer. Organizations can also use S3 Interface endpoint to access data in the GWCP S3 bucket.

Reconciliations and operational processes
Wawanesa needed detailed GWCP data in its original schema to perform reconciliations and support operational processes. Depending on an insurer’s requirements, there are multiple approaches, as described above.

Oracle redo logs
To avoid table lockups, replicate only archive log files rather than active redo logs. The recommended approach is to manually switch active redo logs to archive logs in Amazon RDS, allowing DMS CDC to catch up and sync all logs before shutting down DMS. (Reference link for details).

Amazon Aurora optimization
POCs are a good method to size GWCP’s Aurora database, given how sizes of on-premises InsuranceSuite DBs vary widely. Fine-tune Aurora PostgreSQL queries for performance since Oracle and Aurora have different architectures, so existing queries may not behave optimally. Basic operational guidelines and best practices while working with Aurora can be found here.

Migration runbook
Reduce migration risks by developing a migration runbook. Include tasks covering all aspects of migration: go-live, dry runs, performance testing, and business validation. Adjust runbook based on dry runs and keep the scope consistent, i.e., don’t increase the number of tables to migrate in the final run, etc.

DMS tuning
It is critical to configure the number of DMS tasks and Guidewire tasks/threads during testing. Determining the number of Guidewire threads and DMS tasks required for migration is not an exact science. Some tables being migrated may need splitting across multiple tasks, so trial-and-error can inform the optimal number.

Business outcomes

In 2023, Wawanesa became one of the first P&C insurers to migrate all InsuranceSuite applications to Guidewire Cloud Platform. As Wawanesa’s VP of Digital Delivery said, “Over the course of a weekend, we migrated over 18TB of data off Oracle into Aurora, upgraded our entire Guidewire suite of products, configured over 80 MuleSoft integrations, made over 1000 configuration changes, deployed application artifacts using Amazon CI/CD technologies, and successfully transitioned over $4B worth of insurance transactions onto the Guidewire Cloud and AWS platforms!

This migration allowed Wawanesa to continue their cloud migration journey, enabling them to revamp member and agent experience, and respond to emerging market trends.


If you’re considering migrating to GWCP, reach out to your Guidewire and AWS teams, who will recommend specific approaches and best practices to make your deployment successful.

Guidewire and AWS


Guidewire – AWS Partner Spotlight

Guidewire is an AWS Advanced Technology Partner and AWS Competency Partner that provides cloud-based software and services to property and casualty insurance companies for core operations, digital engagement, analytics, and artificial intelligence.

Contact Guidewire | Partner Overview