The shrinking gap between cloud service providers and consumers

An insurance services provider crosses the line: 'If you talked to me four years ago, I suspect I would not have envisioned myself sitting on stage today saying I'm a cloud service provider.'

With the rise of cloud services, many non-IT companies are finding themselves in the cloud business. They may not even call it that, but they are providing cloud services to customers and partners.

Clouds and Sun 2-photo by Joe McKendrick
Image: Joe McKendrick/ZDNet

InfoWorld's Eric Knorr just uncovered another example of a non-IT company morphing into a cloud provider, part of the increasingly blurry lines between service providers and consumers.

Milliman, a large independent actuarial and consulting firm, is now a cloud provider, and calls it for what it is:

"If you talked to me four years ago, I suspect I would not have envisioned myself sitting on stage today, saying I'm a cloud service provider," Van Beach, product manager at Millman, told Eric. "But that's really what we are, and I think we're doing pretty well at it."

Milliman initially moved a risk management application to Microsoft's Windows Azure public cloud in 2010 to handle spikes in its workload. The project took on a life of its own as the company moved more functionality, such as workflow, into the cloud — functionality that it extends to its client base.

"What began as public cloud approach to address a problem of variable workloads quickly morphed into an opportunity to take multiple activities related to the actuarial process — previously scattered across client desktops — and centralize and secure them in the public cloud. As a result, Beach said, Milliman can now offer a solution that exists nowhere else in the industry today."