SSP outage drama gives main provider Ebix pause for thought

SSP outage drama gives main provider Ebix pause for thought | Insurance Business

SSP outage drama gives main provider Ebix pause for thought
Moves by software provider Ebix to make their next generation platform browser-enabled are getting close to fruition, with the NZ launch of Ebix Evolution just weeks away.

Ebix NZ general manager Tony Wisniewski said the company was also investigating offering hosting arrangements for Kiwi clients, and told Insurance Business there were lessons to be learned from the SSP outage dramas.

“We are looking at offering a hosting arrangement for customers that want us to be able to look after all that,” he said.

“Very clearly, with what’s happened with SSP, any hosting arrangement that we set up has to be able to cope with these sorts of situations.”

Wisniewski said Ebix had ‘vast experience’ in managing hosted customer solutions in Tier 4 data centres in Australia, the UK and the USA, with all its facilities providing customers with fault tolerant infrastructure including comprehensive back-up and disaster recovery sites.

“We are confident that our experience in providing hosted services will ensure that our offering to the New Zealand market will provide the best possible disaster recovery options to our customers.”

Brokers and underwriting agencies using SSP’s Pure Broking platform are now entering their third week of being unable to work after a power outage downed their servers in the UK, with still no end in sight.

Since then, SSP has been working around the clock to get its clients up and running, with businesses affected to differing degrees depending on how many applications they have running through the system.

Wisniewski said Ebix’s current eGlobal platform was used in roughly 75% of NZ insurance broking offices, and at the moment brokers managed their own infrastructure.

“eGlobal’s technology means that customers run the system on their own infrastructure. This puts the onus of database backup or replication – basically disaster recovery is what it’s about – on to the broker and then they choose what level of disaster recovery plan they’re comfortable with in conjunction with their infrastructure supplier.”

The company had developed the new Ebix Evolution platform to bring eGlobal into the current generation of browser-enabled cloud-based software and was set to launch it in New Zealand in a matter of weeks.

He said when Ebix carried out its plan to offer hosting arrangements, this would follow its strategy in other countries, by providing a separate disaster recovery facility with data replication from the production facility.

“The way we would probably want to do it would be that you have the database replication in place so that the data is constantly, almost at the flick of a switch, available in another data centre somewhere else and the user can just connect to it.

“So it’s not a case of getting a back-up and then driving it down the road and then restoring it, which is what it appears that SSP is describing they’re having to do.”

He said some of their bigger customers already used database replication effectively for peace of mind.

“So while we’re not in that situation yet, we’re looking very closely at what happened in SSP’s case, trying to get the facts and understanding how you could avoid similar scenarios.”

He said it served as a timely reminder for all brokers to check their servers and infrastructure management set-up and check what safeguards were in place.

“We have been talking to some customers about what’s happened and saying to them make sure you’ve got something in place,” he said.

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