nib shuts down its last data centre

cloud migration nib data centre

One of Australia’s big four health insurers, nib, has announced it has completed its full migration of on-premise workloads to public cloud services provider Amazon Web Services (AWS).

nib reports that more than 95 per cent of workloads across all business lines, as of February this year, now sit on AWS cloud.

The last seven of nib’s data centres – five in Australia and two in New Zealand – were closed in March, the company revealed.

Whilst beginning its on-premise to cloud shift tentatively in 2015, nib said it significantly ramped up its use of cloud services from 2019 following the migration of its corporate health insurance business GU Health, acquired by the group in 2017, to AWS.

GU Health is considered a critical system of record for the health insurer.

“It was one of the earliest migrations of an insurance system of record to the cloud in Australia,” nib said in a statement.

As part of the migration the health insurer said it has, since 2019, worked closely with APRA, adopting Cloud Adoption Standards and Techniques (CAST) requirements. These requirements set out how workloads are run in cloud environments, effectively to determine their risk.

When it began its cloud journey in 2015, APRA expressed scepticism about the safety of operating core workloads and storing high-value data cloud environments. The regulator, three years later – and in a recognition of public cloud’s (notably AWS, Azure and Google clouds) inherent and fast improving security features – relaxed its stance, removing its wholesale restriction of handling customer data in cloud.

nib’s adoption of CAST was seen as a critical step in getting the regulators’ approval for its progressive cloud migration, including of its critical systems.

The health insurer, which counts more than 1.6 million policyholders in Australia and New Zealand, said it also moved multiple Extreme Inherent Risk (EIR) systems in its final stages of the migration, aligning with industry best practice.

“By transferring these EIR systems, we’ve further fortified our technology backbone, ensuring that critical operations are running on advanced and resilient platforms,” said nib group chief information officer Brendan Mills.

Following the successful migration, nib said it now “manages thousands of workloads in AWS”.

“Workloads are dynamically transformed using micro-services and serverless computing. This approach leverages the benefits of cloud-native services to optimise performance, scalability, and resilience.”

According to nib, public cloud has enabled it to strategically develop and enrich its digital assets, including the development and roll out of artificial intelligence innovation.

For instance, ‘nibby’, nib’s AI-powered voice and text chatbot, was developed in Amazon SageMaker – a developer platform for machine learning program – leverages AWS’s intelligent search platform Kendra, and was trained on Amazon’s natural language processing model Lex, to develop its conversational interface.

Since its introduction, Mills said that nibby has managed more than 3.2 million customer queries as of January 2024.

By leveraging the new full cloud environment, Mills said the health insurer can now “expand its current use and future exploration of artificial intelligence (AI) and the ways that AI might drive nib’s consumer-facing businesses”.

“The move is very much a strategic decision on many fronts. We are confident about the environment; AWS provides us with agility and flexibility, it allows nib to build capability in the way we operate our business and contain costs.”