I recently attended an SMB conference for a consortium of Property & Casualty Insurance Companies. I began attempting to understand the exposure of some Third Party Administrators, insurance carriers and vendors to cloud computing. Some, after wondering what I meant by “Cloud Offering”, were quick to point out that they already offered their services on a cloud computing platform. It was obvious that the SMB decision maker might have a challenge on their hands seeing clarity among the mist of loose definitions and competing vendors. Let’s try to boil it down to few simple things to look for when encountering service offerings using this new idiom of cloud computing.
- There should be no need to purchase any new hardware. The business should not need anything beyond what is already in place as an internet connection and a desktop with an internet browser.
- No On-Premise software installations. The service should not need you to install pervasive, large foot print applications on your servers or desktops.
- The licensing model should reflect pay per use pricing. The business should be charged for only what is used on pre set periodic intervals (monthly or bi monthly) without long contracts.
- Should be able to scale on the fly. If the business signs up a large client or is faced with a large processing need (regulatory change, new business taking off…etc), the ability to acquire more power to process these new needs should be as easy as making a selection from a website or making a phone call.
- The Data Center hosting your data should carry certifications such as ISO27001 and SAS Compliance as an example. Most vendors will use a hosting facilities run by known hosters such as Rackspace and IBM.
- Relatively short and quick setup and startup time. Simply put, once you sign up for a service. Of course, special requests, conversion of data or enhancements would cause the startup time to be longer. The provisioning of the new service turnaround should be in hours if not minutes.
- Affordability is key, the pricing should fit any budget. The pricing should be easily and readily available, and not at the mercy of “how deep is your pocket”. The ability to utilize the internet infrastructure and shared or multi tenant systems big advantage is the ability to bring the cost down. Imagine a bank doing business with and for only just one organization or individual vs. having many share the investment and risk.
Though there are many more variables and more technical details looking at a Cloud service offering, I think staring with a basic understanding can help a lot of decision makers for an SMB to see through the mist and gauge their expectations from partner’s and vendor’s service offerings.
In the next few blogs I’ll begin covering specific vendors that can be of great interest to property and casualty SMBs. Let me know any specific services or vendors you are interested in finding out about.