Tuesday, November 8, 2011

C3 Conference Attendees On Cloud 9

If you follow me on Twitter you know I was at the inaugural Cloud Computing Consortium Conference at the Howe Center at Stevens Institute in Hoboken yesterday. By all measures this event was a terrific success. It drew well over 100 attendees and featured interesting and informative speakers and panels throughout the day.

From the opening comments by Ken Saloway and Dr. Jerry Luftman, through Aristide Toundzi's closing presentation on service management integration, the audience was delighted and clearly engaged, judging by the amount of questions and discussion. Most of the attendees stayed around to enjoy the food and beverages at the closing reception and to continue discussing the topics of the day.

Since being formed last October, the consortium or C3 organized several  working committees to examine in detail various aspects of this new phenomenon called cloud computing. Yesterday, their findings were presented in summary form by the leaders of each committee and discussed by panels comprised of some of the members.

In his opening keynote presentation Frank Kovacs from E&Y alluded to NIST and a recently released definition of cloud computing. It had several key elements including pay as you go, on-demand, fast provisioning, elasticity and location independence.

Matthew Karlyn, a partner at Foley & Lardner, gave a rapid fire presentation on many of the contractual issues associated with cloud computing. He started with the simple observation this is not a license where the grant is most important and can be found in the first part of the agreement. Don't model your cloud contracts after the key provisions of your more common license agreements. Most important here is availability and that is often buried in an attachment or missing completely.

In the panel on value proposition we discussed a perfect example of where cloud computing delivered significant value and competitive advantage to an insurance company. As part of their growth strategy, a property and casualty insurer decided to begin to write personal lines in a new market. While this market had great potential it introduced new requirements to their systems. Faced with the choice to modify existing systems, implement new systems or pursue a software as a service solution, they opted to transition to the SaaS approach.

This dramatically shortened their time to market, allowed them to leverage a system which met all the regulatory requirements and made the investment affordable. The cost was keyed to the volume and would only increase in proportion to their volume. There was no large initial capital investment, no equipment to install or configure nor any on-going systems maintenance added to the schedule. In fact, it reduced the burden on the systems group and allowed the company to focus its limited resources on better customer support.

Just as promised, the cloud solution delivered agility, allowing the company to quickly expand into other business lines and the flexibility to handle spikes in claims volume. Company agents and customers were able reach the system from any location with internet access.

Throughout the day, panels covering the strategy of the cloud and critical issues such as governance sparked lively interactions with the audience and delivered practical advice on how to leverage the cloud.

All of the papers and presentations are available on the new C3 web site and can be downloaded by members. There is no cost to join but significant benefit in participation.

New working groups are being formed. Perhaps it is time to stick your head into the clouds?

Captain Joe

Follow me on Twitter @JPuglisiLLC