In recent weeks, I've been presenting the various sides of the cloud debate, which has intensified within the conservative and security-conscious insurance sector. Is cloud computing is a good proposition for insurance companies? In a new article published here at Insurance Networking News, I delve into some live cloud implementations at companies such as Narragansett Bay Insurance and Grange Insurance, and channel their advice to managers looking into cloud formations.
But many companies will remain tepid about turning over huge swaths of enterprise functionality to a third party, no matter how much is maintained within a secure “cage” by the provider.
A class of essential but peripheral functions—e-mail and messaging—lend themselves as natural places to start cloud computing. Mary Kay Roberto, SVP and GM at Mimecast, works with insurers to maintain e-mails, and notes that the industry's heavy regulation lends itself to cloud-based approaches.
“Insurance companies are constantly under pressure to comply with a myriad of government and market regulations,” she points out. “To comply, they need to back up all of their internal and external e-mail correspondence over a period of time, and find a way to easily retrieve that data when asked to prove compliance—or when legal matters force background information to be compiled and reported.” A cloud-based e-mail management system, for example, takes away the tasks of storing years and years worth of documents.
Cloud also can extend to a wider category of messaging, which encompasses collaboration and mobile access along with e-mail. As Ed Laczynski, CTO of LTech explains, large insurance firms his company is working with “are adopting platforms like Google Apps, which provide a very competitive price point and little to no on-premise IT management requirements.” Such online platforms enable a range of services, such as mobile access, live collaboration and archiving/compliance.”
Storage in general is a huge challenge, especially with a rise in discovery requests against customer files. “With cloud computing, companies can easily and quickly access old e-mails, and collect data in a cheaper, more efficient way,” Roberto says. “By utilizing online archives, there is no need to break down tape, or endlessly search through tape file after tape file for the requested messages.”
Joe McKendrick is an author, consultant, blogger and frequent INN contributor specializing in information technology.
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