The NSW government’s insurer, iCare, does not use any on-premise IT systems, instead employing a cloud only approach. Its CIO says the decision to go cloud only allows iCare more flexibility and agility via its API strategy.
“When iCare was formed we made a deliberate decision to be a cloud only insurer,” iCare CIO Tim Abbott said during the Mulesoft Connect event in Sydney this week.
“We’re a cloud only IT organisation. So we don’t have a physical data centre. We don’t have any tin to manage. And so a lot of what we do is actually about piecing together the building blocks of different IT systems and different it capabilities.”
The insurance agency was established four years ago as an amalgamation the different insurance functions that exist across the different departments of NSW government. Notably iCare runs legislated insurance programs such as workers compensation. But it is also the insurer for the NSW government itself, meaning its insures for most of the states major assets and landmarks, like the Opera House and Harbour Bridge.
In total there is around $34 billion in total assets under management, making iCare one of the biggest Australian insurers.
However, Abbot says it doesn’t need to run a single piece of on-premise IT. The core insurance platform, mainly used to deliver workers compensation, uses around 30 different technologies with half residing in an Amazon Web Services environment and the other half accessed through software as a service.
Critical to tying those capabilities together is an API strategy, Abbott said. iCare has tapped Integration Platform as a Service provider Mulesoft to help integrate the APIs, including with partner services.
“Having that layer of abstraction between all those systems means that as innovation occurs in the marketplace, we’re actually able to swap systems in and out far more rapidly than what we would be able to do in a more traditional IT shop,” Abbott said.
“And because we’ve got that abstraction provided by those API layers we don’t have to go through and do end to end regression testing across every single one of those 30 components.”
Abbott said, the added benefit of an API approach using Mulesoft is when errors do occur they are readily identified and can be fixed quickly.
The speed of a cloud based approach also translated to iCare’s end users, Abbott says, which often includes people at vulnerable points in their lives. In the case of Workers Compensation iCare needs to be able to pay out wages almost immediately.
“When [workers] make a workers compensation claim, in many cases, is that in many cases we will pay their weekly wage for them. In many cases, those workers need that weekly wage [immediately]. They’re already injured, already laid up, but they need that weekly to buy food for their families, to pay rent.
“So speed, for me, is about being absolutely able to do that in real time, absolutely ensuring a dependable process. And if something does go wrong, knowing that we are going to get on top of it quickly and fix it quickly.”