When German armored columns unexpectedly smashed into Allied lines during The Battle of the Bulge on Dec. 16, 1944, many American cooks and clerks—long accustomed to the relative safety of the rear—found themselves hastily pressed into front line duty. In a similar, albeit less dire manner, the storage backbones of insurers—long thought of as a purely back office function—are now being tasked with many functions few would have envisioned years ago.

There are many reasons for this shift in the way data is warehoused and managed. One obvious reason is that the sheer volume of data insurers must now keep is forcing them to assess their strategies to store it. Insurers are storing increasing volumes of auditing and usage data, notes Jeff Goldberg, a senior analyst at Boston-based Celent. In addition to these and traditional policy and claim data, carriers must store other types of data.

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