IT - the cutting edge

18-07-2013

IT - the cutting edge

Information technology is driving significant change in international business. We spoke with two Bermuda technology providers about the bespoke solutions being rolled out to their re/insurance clients.

In an increasingly global and interconnected world, fi nding the right IT and telecoms provider is a critical business choice. For companies with global footprints and executives on the move, the need is all the more pressing. Bermuda Re spoke with two of the leading technology fi rms in Bermuda—Digicel and Logic—about their business solutions and how exactly they can deliver results for global re/insurers.

Re/insurers are looking for cutting edge technology to support their business operations, and it was evident talking with Tom O’Neill, business solutions director at Digicel, that the company views its disaster recovery capabilities as an attractive USP. As O’Neill explained, the product is “based around protecting, storing, managing and recovering business critical data in the event there is a data loss in a fi nancial organisation.”

Re/insurers are highly regulated and data intensive entities, he said, with companies needing constant access to their systems and all the while in a secure manner. “They cannot afford to lose data as this creates legal and jurisdictional challenges around data integrity and the validity of their offering—and this can create additional challenges around regulatory compliance and capitalisation.” As such, backup systems are essential to the operational capabilities of international reinsurance.

O’Neill said that Digicel has built a product that enables companies to recover geographically diverse data that is lost, offering reinsurers the potential for greater business continuity. The service enables companies to have their offi ces up and running within a matter of hours and right across the globe. It is offered uniquely by Digicel in the Bermuda market thanks to its extensive network capabilities, said O’Neill, with the company’s “network-led DR system enabling us to access data from geographically diverse locations”.

Logic also takes its disaster recovery responsibilities seriously. As William Chan, head of network operations at Logic explained, the company looks at the threat posed to business continuity on a global basis in order to protect clients. “We have to take a top-to-bottom look at such threats. Just as our reinsurance clients go through compliance, so too do we.”

“We look at having not only single nodes at a single facility, but multiple nodes. For power, we look at multiple backup generators, multiple uninterruptible power supplies. We look at infrastructure, but also further up to the technology chain into the cloud.”

In the event of a disaster or loss of device, Logic offers business clients a service called Business Continuity Gateway. This enables travelling executives to “connect either back into services on the Island or the applications that are run from the cloud, and allows them to connect in a secure, predictable and redundant fashion” through various offshore servers, said Richard Munday, vice president of international business development at Logic.

Chan used the analogy of a global freeway to describe the fi rm’s infrastructure, with Logic having “strategically placed onramps around the world to its private and secure infrastructure”. Executives are able to log on to Logic systems using these onramps “optimising the earliest entry point into the secure environment. Placing them in strategic locations around the world we limit the exposure of their traffic to an unprotected and uncontrolled environment”, explained Chan.

Logic boasts an impressive international network with points of presence (PoPs) right across the globe, including in Bermuda, Cayman, New York, Toronto, London and Paris, with plans for a Halifax PoP, but the firm also understands the demands of offshore business. As Munday explained, its international network enables the company to get closer to the end customer, but its infrastructure also helps companies to adhere to regulatory requirements around the storage and transmission of data. As Munday explained, the company employs Jersey-based Foreshore to ensure cloud computing capabilities conform to the regulatory and compliance needs of offshore clients, helping companies to avoid issues such as compliance under the Patriot Act.

Digicel offers a similarly global service and as a leading global communications provider operates across 31 markets in the Caribbean, Central America and the Asia Pacifi c. Investment in key infrastructure has been signifi cant with O’Neill stating that over its 12 years of operation the company has invested $4.5 billion worldwide in developing its international systems.

Digicel’s Business Solutions division was specifically created to provide leading technologies and solutions for business, said O’Neill, with the company working with more than 1,000 businesses across the Caribbean and Central America to design, implement and manage their integrated communications and networks. And increasingly Digicel is offering cutting edge solutions to its clients such as cloud, machine-tomachine and managed services, said O’Neill.

Although disasters may come in grander form than a lost mobile phone or tablet, loss of key data is another serious concern for international business. Again, Bermuda technology firms have solutions to extend to the market. O’Neill said that Digicel is launching a mobile device management product “that will allow executives to travel with their mobile phone, laptop or tablet and securely manage, authenticate and secure their device.” The service enables Digicel to wipe data on lost devices, providing executives with considerable peace of mind as they operate on the move.

Cloud thinking

Cloud computing is another increasingly prominent feature of the IT landscape and Bermuda players are active in this area. O’Neill said that Digicel had built a series of cloud platforms across a diverse range of markets. “Re/insurers, banks and financial firms don’t like going on public clouds. What we have done to solve this issue is develop private compliant clouds that are based on industry-leading certification around compliance, data storage, integrity and protection, which enables re/ insurers to go on to private cloud platforms built by Digicel knowing that there is no risk of intrusion, theft or prevention.”

Logic spoke in a similar vein regarding the demand for private platforms. “Typically we ensure facilities are private and protected by a minimum of an N+1 type of security gateway, and typically at least an N+1 redundancy Ð configuration.”

Addressing concerns over the safety of such systems, Chan said that Logic controls both the networks and the physical infrastructure of its systems. “Even the cable going out of our building and into the ground is armoured,” he said. “We guard it from a physical security perspective and going up the chain into the cloud we ensure that every point is either private or interacts with the Internet through a secure gateway point. Almost all our private cloud partners offer intrusion prevention systems, which further complement the ability to detect if there’s any compromise or potential risk of a security breach.” It would seem that the Bermuda market—and its data—are in strong hands.

A friendly face

Backing up these systems is an impressive support network for international business customers. Logic deploys geographically diverse partners to extend the full range of services to the client, “all delivered in each local market”, said Vicki Coelho, CEO of Logic. “We are able to offer the full range of presale and post-sale capabilities all on a global basis.”

In the case of Digicel, the company offers corporate customers a 24-hour help desk facility locally, which enables them to troubleshoot problems, said O’Neill. With every corporate client also having its own dedicated account manager, “they are able to benefit from the relationship-driven nature of Digicel. We are a people business and that is very much part of our proposition”.

The challenge of the new

While introducing new IT systems is not without its challenges, the potential of the cloud presents considerable opportunities. As O’Neill explained, developments that Digicel is incubating in the cloud are creating deployable business solutions for their clients. “Cloud computing creates the possibility to rent technology and pay as you go,” said O’Neill. “Rather than investing in capital expenditure upfront and taking on that cost without realising the value, you are effectively renting a service from Digicel that is dedicated, authenticated and encrypted. As you realise value you are paying the bill, rather than upfront.”

O’Neill added that beyond the cloud, Digicel is also offering customers increasing convergence across its IT and telecoms capabilities. As he explained: “We are a mobile carrier by heritage, but have bought an ISP fixed line carrier here in Bermuda, so we can provide mobile to fixed convergence, which is the Holy Grail of telecoms. One bill, relationship and organisation drawing everything together for the customer.” Bermuda clients can expect smoother, more bespoke service as a result.

Chan said that in the case of Logic they are taking an active role in helping clients move from legacy systems to new cloud capabilities. As he explained, “we are able to act as a translator from a network perspective all the way up to the cloud. We can take legacy-type connectivity and translate it into new technology and systems, acting as a bridge. We have flexibility and control over what type of connectivity we extend to customers,” enabling them to take on new technology in a tailored, plug-and-play fashion. Reinsurers considering developing their IT capabilities would do well to consider their local options.

IT, international business

Bermuda Re