Hollard Financial Services moves more to AWS

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Hollard Financial Services moves more to AWS

Cloud vendor's local launch sparks managed services review.

White-label insurer Hollard Financial Services has moved a growing number of applications to Amazon Web Services since the latter’s Sydney launch last year.

The firm, part of the South African Hollard Group, provides life insurance through partners such as Woolworths, Medibank and Aussie.

It has about 500 staff in Australia, including 35 technologists, with head of IT Luis Nejo preferring to outsource “commodity services” such as infrastructure to service providers.

Nejo said the insurer had been evaluating Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) infrastructure-as-a-service offerings for “quite some time” and began using the service in mid-2012.

At the time, AWS provided its services from overseas data centres. The cloud giant began offering services from Sydney’s Equinix SYD3 and Global Switch data centres in November.

“AWS coming to Sydney certainly was a proponent for activity,” Nejo said, noting that Hollard Financial Services (HFS) is “re-balancing” its mix of public cloud and managed services and aiming for a hybrid solution.

“We work with a lot of business partners and they have a very low risk appetite when it comes to the offshoring of customer data.”

Nejo would not name the managed service providers that stood to lose from HFS’ growing push into the public cloud. The insurer has outsourced its IT infrastructure since launching in 2007.

Speaking on FST Media’s insurance technology panel in Sydney, Nejo noted that businesses needed to clarify what business benefits they hoped to derive from the public cloud before taking up those services.

He said HFS was likely to move public-facing applications to the public cloud initially, describing those applications as the “lowest hanging fruit” and most likely to benefit from scalable, flexible cloud offerings.

While he identified technology and contact centres as key to driving business opportunities, Nejo said HFS had a relatively small in-house IT team.

“We’re very selective about what skills we retain,” he told iTnews on the sidelines of the conference.

“The architects, the designers, the developers, they sit with me. The commodity skills, we’ll find that outside, and vendor management and all that comes with that is another capability that we have [in house].

“Growth and optimisation is what we’re all about,” he said. “A big part of that is not being distracted with the things you don’t need to be distracted with.

“If somebody like myself gets caught up in a discussion about a generator, that’s half a day that I’m not spending on things that could be adding direct value to the business.”

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