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Insurer Beazley meets global challenge to secure mobile workforce

Beazley has stolen a march on other London-market insurers by implementing a versatile global digital workspace with improved security

Beazley, a specialist commercial insurer that’s active in the Lloyd’s of London market, has adapted its business model and infrastructure to grab global opportunities, where once it conducted nearly all its business from the City of London.

For its 1,800-plus staff spread across Europe, the US and Asia, the insurer’s “work anywhere” strategy is now designed around a simple, single sign-on and a fully integrated workspace. Systems security and encryption is baked in, and the hybrid infrastructure it is all built on, is invisible at the user interface.

Dale Steggles, a user compute specialist and one of the architects for Beazley’s technology roll-out, said at Infosecurity Europe 2018 in London: “Our whole underlying model has changed, because it needed to. We have simplified the delivery of apps, desktops and data into a unified, fully integrated digital workspace experience. It transforms the way our people work and the improved security keeps us on the right side of our compliance obligations.”

Steggles added that, while London-market and more general commercial insurance practices are still behind the curve, with widespread unstructured data and paper-based practices, Beazley’s joined-up digital approach shows the direction of travel the industry must take.

The transformation is built around a mix of on-premise infrastructure and, increasingly, cloud services delivering Microsoft Windows 10 apps and desktops, as well as Linux desktops.

Citrix services underpin much of the workspace, including Citrix XenMobile to centralise the management of mobile devices, traditional desktops, laptops and internet of things (IoT) through a single platform.

NetScaler Gateway is used to consolidate remote access infrastructure and provide single sign-on across all applications – whether in a datacentre, in the cloud or delivered as a service.

“When you embark on a change like this, you need to ensure security too, and we are happy that the platform is robust,” said Steggles.

“It was simpler once, of course. We had corporate devices and worked from a few managed locations, but now what we do looks totally different. Mobile in particular is driving a different attack vector, so we’ve thought long and hard about ensuring security.

“All the mobile devices we use are thin, communicating with our platform, which keeps things simpler. We deliver apps through a secure container to each device.”

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Beazley started on its workspace transformation with NetScaler Gateway for remote working, and Steggles said that proof point prompted the insurer to take things further.

“It was a great first step. We could monitor uptime and availability and saw no security problems. After that, embracing XenMobile has been good for productivity. We’ve wrapped in Microsoft 365 tools, rolling out progressively across different teams, and now it’s live across the board.”

Steggles said the infrastructure overhaul and investments effectively means that Beazley doesn’t need to worry about its data and where it sits.

“We have 180 developers that use Linux, for example. Some are on Azure but it’s all accessed through the virtualisation software delivering mobile apps and desktop tools – XenApp and XenDesktop. Between them these deliver Windows, Linux, web and SaaS applications or full virtual desktops.”

Beazley took the leap in 2017 to Citrix Cloud, leaving behind much of its on premises infrastructure. It has simplified in other ways too – moving from four mobile suppliers to one, for example.

“We are seeing more usage from more locations. Our users just log in and see their folders and their applications. They don’t have to know how that’s being served up or how the platform is secured.”

Steggles said the next phase for the workspace could give more access to more services to more devices – but not at the expense of security, which would always have to be managed and understood.

“But clearly we are moving away from corporate fat devices to a more vanilla experience we can tailor. At the same time, we need to ensure the functionality is maintained and improved along the way.”

Beazley’s current suite of cloud services includes ShareFile, Microsoft Office 365, WebEx, Concur, ServiceNow, Oracle and Confluence, with more services, but also some rationalisation, planned in the next 18 months.

“We still have some legacy apps that we could move to the cloud, but not if it degrades the experience. We are taking things a step at a time, but it’s an exciting journey to be on,” said Steggles.

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