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ARC: RMIS TECHNOLOGY

Cloud computing and other new technologies contribute to RMIS evolution

Cloud storage helps scale capacity to meet customer demands

RMIS Cloud Computing

Though a distinct subset of the larger enterprise software space, risk management information systems available today reflect trends in technology ranging from cloud computing to configurability.

“Risk management is really quite a small software market,” said Bob Morrell, co-founder and CEO of Kennesaw, Ga.-based RMIS provider Riskonnect Inc. “It's a microcosm that is subject to the whims of the broader world.”

The relative lack of scale of the RMIS market lends itself to partnerships with large cloud computing providers.

For example, Riskonnect utilizes the platform of San Francisco-based enterprise cloud computing provider Salesforce.com Inc. “The newer-model RMIS providers are taking advantage of infrastructure and capabilities that were never available before,” Mr. Morrell said. “This allows us to bring a lot of technology capability into the narrow RMIS marketplace.”

He said the research and development budgets of the large cloud providers likely are as large as the RMIS market as whole. “Building on a platform that has almost $500 million investment in R&D, gives us a lot of advantages.”

Bob Petrie, president of Origami Risk L.L.C., said the Glencoe, Ill.-based company outsources hosting of its offerings to Amazon Web Services, the cloud computing arm of Seattle-based internet giant Amazon.com Inc.

“For RMIS providers, cloud is a pure outsourcing play,” Mr. Petrie said. “It allows us to do what we do best, which is building software and providing service.”

Another benefit to using a cloud-based delivery is meeting spikes in demand, such as end-of-quarter financial reporting.

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“Cloud is particularly useful in a RMIS business because the production in a RMIS is inconsistent throughout the year,” Mr. Petrie said. “We can scale our capacity to meet the demands of our users.”

A cloud-based RMIS also pays dividends in redundancy and disaster recovery, as cloud providers can mirror data across geographically diverse data centers.

“We have constructed our architecture so that transactions are written synchronously to both our production and our mirrored environment,” Mr. Petrie said.

Coupled with rapid delivery of software updates, cloud environments enable seamless upgrades and give RMIS providers the ability to roll out new features rapidly. Mr. Petrie said Origami adds new features on average every four to six weeks.

“If you have a solution for a client's business problem, there is no good excuse for it to sit on a shelf,” he said. “Larger releases contain a greater uncertainty and a greater need for testing.”

Julie A. Bean, risk manager for Elmhurst, Ill.-based The Duchossois Group Inc., said the flexibility of a cloud-based delivery model was one appealing factor when the company recently chose Origami's RMIS offering.

Ms. Bean said the software-as-a-service model enables RMIS providers to easily elicit and incorporate user ideas.

“I like the fact that if another client asks for some kind of enhancement that they would like to see, that it comes out six weeks later and everybody benefits from it,” Ms. Bean said. “This plays a huge part in the usability and flexibility of the system.”

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“We have had a lot of changes in our organization,” she said. “We went from a heavily manufacturing business model to a more contract manufacturing business model, so the claim activity and risk profile completely changed.”

Another key tenet of cloud computing is configurability, which enables users to shape the software to their needs without changing the underlying code.

Lorena Torres, risk consultant for Palo Alto, Calif.-based Hewlett-Packard Co., said the flexibility in the RMIS tool from Origami enables her to keep the interface simplified to her liking. “If there are (data) fields we don't use, we don't see them,” Ms. Torres said. “So visually, it looks a lot cleaner.”

A configurable interface is paramount, she said. “It's about ease of use more than anything ... RMIS need to be intuitive.”

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