Re-platforming Guidewire for the Cloud

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Cloud is now a mature technology. Its adoption is of strategic importance for insurance businesses, and leaders must balance the risks and opportunities. 

Simply being in the cloud does not deliver business benefits. In fact, it could result in a host of cost management, security, and compliance issues. Avoiding these complications and unlocking the advantages of cloud often requires specialist expertise.

So, insurers should proceed to the cloud with care, learning from the experience of early adopters and cloud consultants with industry knowledge. This is especially true when it comes to business-critical applications such as Guidewire.

A Cloud-native Mindset is Essential

Cloud is not just about technology; it also requires new ways of thinking and working, new tools and new processes. Platform engineering is the most efficient and effective way to implement modern approaches that take full advantage of cloud benefits. In the words of Gartner:

To truly deliver digital capabilities anywhere and everywhere, enterprises must turn away from the familiar ‘lift and shift’ migrations and toward cloud-native platforms. [They] use the core capabilities of cloud computing to provide scalable and elastic IT-related capabilities ‘as a service’ to technology creators using internet technologies, delivering faster time to value and reduced costs.

For businesses in highly regulated sectors, cloud-native platforms also underpin consistent, robust data security and governance. Yet platform engineering is no mean feat. It involves re-platforming applications and identifying advanced technologies to adopt, as well as implementing new tools and ways of working. All this demands deep knowledge of cloud and current best practices. To deliver maximum benefits, these technical insights should be combined with a good understanding of business goals and the target application.

Supercharging Guidewire Using Cloud Expertise 

Guidewire can deploy its software onto virtual machines (VMs) in the cloud. However, this rehosting, or lift and shift, approach doesn’t tailor the cloud presence to support specific business needs. For insurers wanting to optimise value from cloud investments, there is a better way. 

Sourced cloud consultants and engineers have delivered platform-led migrations of Guidewire for leading insurance companies, gathering a deep understanding of sector needs in the process. 

When leading UK insurer Admiral invested in Guidewire’s ClaimCenter solution for property and casualty insurers, the in-house team opted to deploy it on Azure. They had to be confident that this would deliver the anticipated benefits, yet the scale and complexity of the task was immense. Sourced was appointed to handle the deployment and create a platform to support the full software delivery cycle (SDLC), from development to production. 

Sourced put together a strategy that would maximise developer and infrastructure agility via a streamlined ‘platforms and pipelines’ approach. The entire SDLC platform was built on Azure DevOps, ensuring uniformity and stability across all elements. 

Key features include the use of automation to create a scalable infrastructure that can be dialled up or down on-demand according to need. Developers can spin-up new environments for development, quality assurance, testing, pre-production, and production quickly. These environments co-exist, so multiple development squads can work concurrently and independently. 

Sourced implemented various monitoring, logging, and alert tools to ensure code-related issues are identified as early as possible. This enables developers to rectify issues quickly before the code moves downstream, so the increased velocity goes hand-in-hand with efficiency and quality assurance.  

Security was enhanced using services including Azure Key Vault and Azure Active Directory. CI/CD pipelines were set up to track code commits in support of disaster recovery. Code is stored in Azure Repos to allow concurrent development of infrastructure features in a secure manner. Sourced worked closely with Guidewire to deploy ClaimCenter on the cloud with a level of automation and reliability far beyond what could have been achieved using VMs. (See the full case study here).

Learning from Early Adopters 

As the insurance sector is later to the cloud than some other industries, leaders can take advantage of learnings from earlier adopters. Business drivers for embracing cloud typically centre on the need to reduce costs, foster agility and innovation, and improve security. All these outcomes can be accomplished more quickly and effectively via cloud-native platforms than through lift and shift deployment of on-prem software onto cloud-based VMs. 

Cloud-native solutions allow enterprises to unlock values such as elasticity, agility, and reduced time-to-market. Lift and shift does not deliver these benefits. It also makes maintenance more complex and will often increase costs rather than reduce them.

Triangulating Success: Insurer, Software Vendor, Cloud Engineers

With business-critical insurance applications, a three-way effort involving the insurer, the software product owner, and cloud platform engineering specialists minimises risk and maximises opportunity. Guidewire, and others like it, are the indisputable experts in their own solutions but cloud is not in their DNA. Deeper cloud expertise is needed. Here at Sourced, we bring technical expertise and the ability to foster cohesive approaches that drive success. We can design and deliver a solution that will supercharge your cloud deployments, incorporating the newest, most advanced technologies to optimise your operations in the cloud. We set clients up to satisfy ambitious business goals with advanced, scalable cloud methodologies. 

Get in touch for more information on our cloud services for insurance organisations.

Ashley Petherick is a Solutions Enablement Consultant and has been implementing and managing internet based platforms for over 20 years. Over the last 6 years with Sourced Group, he has co-lead DevOps engineering teams to deliver cloud based platforms via code and pipelines, providing secure, scalable and stable SDLC structures.