Public cloud computing offers very compelling cost benefits and flexibility. Private cloud computing offers data security contained within the firewall. In all likelihood, many companies will take a middle route, leveraging both public and private cloud-based services as application requirements fit.
I have been gathering the views of numerous industry experts on the topic for an upcoming article, and will share some compelling observations here, since space for the article itself is limited. I heard from Ahmar Abbas, SVP of CSS Corp., who is a proponent of the hybrid model.
Actually, cloud as part of an evolution that has already been underway for some time, Abbas points out. “Insurance companies, along with financial companies, have been leading adopters of technologies, such as grid computing and utility computing, which can be considered as the evolutionary step toward cloud computing,” he says. “This was primarily driven by the need of insurance companies to conduct heavy computations of large data sets, calculating risk, running simulations and forecasting models.”
Abbas notes there are options with both private and public clouds to address these requirements. “Private clouds can be constructed with ease by either purchase private cloud solutions from vendors or deploying open source tools,” he says. “Whereas departmental grids of the primarily focused on sharing computational resources, private clouds can now deliver compute as well as storage and database resources in an optimized manner.”
The hybrid model may represent the best of both worlds, Abbas says. “Insurance companies can create a hybrid cloud that keeps certain tasks within the enterprise on a private cloud, but leverages the public cloud for other tasks.”
Still, Abbas advises, public cloud offerings have matured to the point where they offer fairly robust solutions for insurance applications. “Amazon’s EC2 and Microsoft’s Azure are two popular public cloud offerings for infrastructure on the cloud. Salesforce.com’s Force.com and Google’s AppEngine are software development platforms that are hosted in the cloud. These can be leveraged by insurance companies to build and host a set of applications for their distributed dealer and agent base.”
Joe McKendrick is an author, consultant, blogger and frequent INN contributor specializing in information technology.
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