At VMworld 2016, we spoke with customers about how they are supporting digital business transformation (view our video interview above). Senior IT leaders, all describe a challenging but exciting multi-year journey, and all agree that technology is ever-more critical to business innovation, agility, and resilience. And they are embracing a customer-first approach. For end customers and employees alike, they want to make life and work easier, more convenient, more productive, and more fruitful.
Insurance has always been an information business, says Mark Cressey, senior vice president and general manager of IT Hosting Services at the U.S.-based insurance provider Liberty Mutual. “We don’t manufacture anything or have retail storefronts. Our product is our promise,” Cressey explains. “We promise our customers that, for the premium we charge, we’ll take care of any covered losses they incur. So we’re in the business of digitizing that contract and any information about a claim.”
Adding Value Through Apps
Cressey and his team are responsible for supporting the company’s application development teams and end users with the technology they need. “I make sure that all of the things we rely on to support the insurance business are highly available and reliable,” he says. “The things we use to issue a policy, settle a claim, produce a bill, or provide a letter of correspondence to our customers—those are all system-based. There’s no back office anymore.”
Building applications for customers and agents was once a long process for Liberty Mutual. Today, however, customers have higher expectations about both mobile capabilities and the speed at which the company can deliver new services.
“We need to provide developer environments in hours and minutes, not days and weeks,” Cressey says. “We need to provide a richer depth of capabilities in terms of development tool suites and production environments.”
Cressey’s team spends significant time thinking about ways to help take the burden off developers so they can focus on adding value for their end customers. “A lot of the things we’ve done around automation and APIs have helped developers get to their task of building the apps much more quickly,” Cressey says. “Developer agility is our north star.”
Opening the Door to Public Cloud
The cloud plays a large role in providing an agile, flexible development environment at Liberty Mutual, which was an early adopter of the technology. The company brought its first private cloud online about six years ago. Today, the company’s private cloud environment supports approximately 90 percent of all new server orders.
“The private cloud has about 70 percent of the production and non-production workloads at Liberty Mutual running in it,” Cressey says. “We’re also embracing the public cloud. At this point, we’re thinking about how we can move from a rich, well-adopted, on-premises private cloud to a hybrid cloud that takes advantage of all the capabilities in the public cloud environment. We want to make sure we’re leveraging the public cloud in a way that’s stable and reliable, and still lets the business do its job.”
Cressey strives to ensure the company’s cloud environment and the applications and workloads running in it are as secure as possible. “Security is paramount in everything we do,” he says. “Inherent in the promise we make to our customers is that we’re protecting their data, and we take that promise very seriously.”