Pirates and clouds were much more fun when I was five

 liz blog.jpg                   The insurance industry has left me feeling rather dejected this week I am afraid to say. Has the absence of the much anticipated hard market finally worn me down? No- it is more crushing than that. Two issues I have been covering this week have encouraged me to conjure up nostalgic memories from my childhood only to cruelly dash them with a harsh and sometimes rather dry reality.

I don't know whether it is the Goonies' fault, if I read Treasure Island too many times or whether my desire for Johnny Depp has blinded me to all reason but I love pirates. I think they are swashbucklingly cool. Given a fancy dress opportunity, I will always consider the pirate option and I don't think I am alone. Therefore, being exposed to what is happening with modern day pirates has really sunk my galleon.

A recent report has shown that piracy attacks have been on the increase in the last 15 years. But, since 2006, the level of attacks has increased by an average of 125% and this is almost entirely due to the attacks by Somali pirates. But pirates aren't supposed to be real, the inner child in me screamed! They make cameo appearances in pantomimes and hang around the Mary Rose at theme parks saying things like "shiver me timbers" and donning rather fetching peg legs. The idea that pirates pose a real threat and are out there stealing cargo in the here and now ruins everything for me.

On a separate occasion this week when cloud computing crossed my path I immediately thought of marshmallows and care bears. I imagined files and spreadsheets merrily bobbing their way across the skyline, perhaps arriving at their destination via the odd sunbeam or rainbow. The reality is not nearly so magical. In fact it is downright disappointing. Cloud computing seems to merely be a term to describe outsourcing data storage to third parties so firms don't have to house big bulky servers on site. Rubbish.

The reason why it was flagged up is that people seem to be fretting about controlling data and, with the advent of Solvency II, are questioning whether farming it out to third parties is a risk they are prepared to take. It may allow for flexibility but, as with all new concepts in technology, the insurance industry is being fairly hesitant about dipping its toe in the virtual pool. I have been told by techie experts that the banking industry seems to love bunging data in the cloud but I guess where it leads insurers may be understandably reticent to follow.

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