Transitioning to the cloud is a heavy lift, and migrating to Guidewire Cloud is no exception. We walk through three considerations to remember before your insurance company makes the switch.
Guidewire software is the market leader for core system software in the insurance industry. Many insurers have successfully implemented the software to run their businesses efficiently and optimize core processes across the insurance value chain. Guidewire is so penetrated in the market that most industry-focused technology solutions consider Guidewire systems and functionality in their designs.
Despite this success, carriers have been reluctant to adopt and upgrade to the newest and most advanced cloud-based software versions. As a company, Guidewire has continued to stress the importance of from the aging, on-prem or self-hosted installations that many currently use. moving to the newer, cloud-based platform
This continued emphasis – combined with concerns from carriers apprehensive about the near-term implications of migrating to Guidewire’s Cloud-based InsuranceSuite – has created uncertainty around the path forward.
What’s Driving the Need for Change?
Guidewire has continued to excel at making compelling products by following a robust product roadmap for how to best serve carriers and consistently adding new, relevant features. For this reason, most Guidewire customers agree it’s not if they will go to the Guidewire Cloud but when. So, why not now? Many concerns regarding immediate adoption go beyond the cost/benefit and readiness of the system itself, although those are important factors.
In this blog, we’ll address some of the underlying obstacles driving uncertainty that you’ll want to consider before undertaking this transition. We’ll do this by breaking these obstacles down into three areas: people, process and technology.
People: Training and Skills Profiles Can be a Barrier
As with any platform change, training staff and ensuring they have the appropriate skillsets to use it is paramount. Carriers need to address these considerations before cloud migration and adoption. In addition to Guidewire’s already significant training and certification program, they’ve added a cloud training component — known as ACE training — to help get new users familiar with the system’s functionality. Tools like this help make changes safe, effective and efficient for the cloud-based environment.
While carriers with the on-prem software had flexibility in how they followed guidelines based on their own strategies, after transitioning into the cloud, Guidewire will now expect developers to follow best practices and standards to prevent harmful code or inefficient code from getting into the system.
Similarly, while Guidewire has traditionally broken-up its configuration and integration skillset, it will now have an even larger delineation between the two. While it is possible to train one person to do both, it is more likely that companies will want separately focused configuration and integration developers.
On the bright side, Guidewire is continuing to move quickly toward API integration, which means the integration skillset will more easily translate to other API-based microservice development, so companies can use these employees elsewhere in the organization.
When considering an upgrade to the cloud, carriers must consider more than just cloud training. You will need to look holistically at gaps in previous training approaches and even reconsider staffing mixes. Those on a cloud journey elsewhere in the organization may have an opportunity to gain synergies.
Process: DevOps Best Practices are Becoming Requirements
On top of considering the people perspective, it will be imperative for carriers and integrators alike to follow the Guidewire development process guidelines according to best practices and standards, particularly around release management. This includes ensuring users demonstrate good discipline around trunks and branches and following recommended procedures for branching and merging.
While some carriers may have previously followed their own processes (which might have included manual interventions or something different than a trunk-and-branch strategy), they may need to consider reworking their systems from a process standpoint to prepare for the cloud. Similarly, if you need to deploy dependent integrations at the same time as the Guidewire software while doing updates, you need to consider that beforehand as well.
While every carrier has its own preferences regarding the number of lower pre-prod environments when testing (generally a mix of manual and automated testing), Guidewire has matured in this area, providing new and useful testing tools, including updating and migrating existing unit testing tools. Carriers may need to change testing processes that they likely catered to a different toolset and testing approach, often as an extension of their initial implementation testing strategy.
Code reviews have always been an important part of any type of software development lifecycle from a development process standpoint. When transitioning to the Guidewire Cloud, it becomes even more important. Guidewire requires its own set of checkpoints and guidelines for any code getting checked in, and carriers must be able to do code reviews and have the right people in place to do so correctly.
Guidewire has always recommended carriers follow some database consistency rules, and it is not capable of database consistency checks. While this wasn’t necessarily “optional,” previously, nothing prevented a carrier from deviating from best practices until they did an upgrade. Going forward, users will need to pay closer attention to maintain database consistency.
Depending on the maturity of the integrations in your existing Guidewire implementation, you may have a lot of work to do before you are cloud ready. While a user may plan to migrate legacy integration patterns to the cloud through direct connectivity point-to-point, in many cases, this will not work, as it is not the way Guidewire built the cloud to integrate.
Finally, while users have had some flexibility around logging and archiving in the past, such as native database archiving or enterprise archiving tools, they will now need to create a logging and archiving process that fits within Guidewire’s archiving framework.
While Guidewire has stayed consistent with its recommendations regarding the processes that surround the development and release of updates overall, customers have traditionally opted to keep internal enterprise processes intact. Moving forward, since the application is now cloud-hosted, customers will need to more closely follow recommended processes and approaches.
Technology: Data and Integration Architectures Can Present Challenges
From a technology standpoint, many of our key considerations are specifically around how the implementation of Guidewire Cloud may pose a significant barrier to users — the first being data architecture.
Whether to calculate things like profitability or general warehouse reporting, Guidewire requires a lot of data for downstream processing that needs to come into a carrier’s data warehouse. Unfortunately, many carriers have antiquated data architecture that they didn’t set up for data ingestion from a cloud-based SaaS application, or they are very early in their data architecture modernization process.
To use Guidewire Cloud, organizations must monitor their data architecture and work through their own strategies around data egress and ingestion. Most modern data architecture platforms work really well with Guidewire, so the farther along they are on that spectrum, the better off they are. However, since most insurance carriers do not have these modern platforms, it often causes further delays in migrating to the cloud.
The same is true with integration architecture. Guidewire built Guidewire Cloud to work well with modern, event-driven integration architecture. Still, many carriers are either just starting that journey or haven’t started monitoring event-driven API-based integration architectures, which could mean having to rework a lot of their integration patterns to adopt it. While it’s possible to integrate with an older architecture point-to-point, this is suboptimal because it causes many carriers to think more comprehensively about their integration architecture, leading to further delays in cloud adoption.
While Guidewire can address most of your infrastructure needs, the transition to the cloud (or from a different cloud-based platform to the Guidewire Cloud) requires you to think holistically through your own cloud journey and how it relates to your core systems.
While the Guidewire Cloud can be a game-changer for insurers seeking speed, efficiency and agility, carriers must address potential obstacles with people, process and technology in advance to avoid surprises that could significantly delay upgrade timelines later in the process.