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Sompo Holdings launched the “Cloud Center of Excellence” (Cloud CoE) in April 2021 to promote the use of the cloud throughout the group, and is promoting initiatives from the perspective of governance, human resources, and knowledge. Toshiyuki Tsuchiya (IT Planning Department Planning Group Cloud Architect), Yoshinori Yasuoka (Planning Group Deputy Manager), Yutaka Kanba (IT Governance Lead Unit Deputy Manager) I asked about the achievements so far. In the first part, we will introduce the history of the birth of the cloud CoE and “governance”, which is one of the three main functions.

Sompo Holdings Cloud CoE members Yutaka Kanba, Toshiyuki Tsuchiya, and Yoshinori Yasuoka (from left)

Sompo Holdings Cloud CoE members Yutaka Kanba, Toshiyuki Tsuchiya, and Yoshinori Yasuoka (from left)

Implementation of the cloud within the group, which was disjointed

The Sompo Group has a wide range of companies involved in a wide range of businesses, including insurance businesses such as Sompo Japan, Sompo Himawari Life Insurance, and Saison Automobile and Fire Insurance, as well as Sompo Care, a nursing care and senior business, and Sompo Light Vortex, a digital business. The Cloud CoE will play a role in supporting the cloud utilization of these group companies.

Mr. Tsuchiya, the Cloud CoE leader, has been in charge of introducing the cloud for many years at group companies, and has given many lectures at places such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) user community. “As a group, Sompo Japan introduced Salesforce around 2003, and initially SaaS was the main focus. Since around 2016, the use of IaaS, mainly AWS, has spread, and now small and medium-sized companies are using AWS. However, large-scale companies are starting to use Google Cloud, etc., and multi-cloud is starting to advance,” says the situation.

While large companies took the lead in adopting the cloud, small and medium-sized companies were lagging behind due to constraints such as human resources and budgets. Regarding the previous situation, Mr. Yasuoka said, “Except for large companies that have dealt with SaaS, they had almost no experience with IaaS, and even when building new systems in the cloud, they had to ask vendors to handle it. Since Mr. Tsuchiya was a member of the group company, he has created a community within the group and disseminated information, but it was still difficult to make a decision to use the cloud for management and business.”

Even so, around 2019, when the use of the cloud gradually spread within the group, voices of concern began to arise from group companies, such as “there are not enough people” and “there are no human resources capable of developing new digital systems.” Due to the lack of human resources, there were also cases where the company had trouble making decisions even after considering migrating on-premises systems to the cloud to optimize costs.

“The issues faced by each company were divided into about six groups, such as applications and infrastructure, and the cloud was among the infrastructure. It became necessary to take measures to properly support the use of the cloud.” (Mr. Yasuoka)

Therefore, Sompo Holdings, a group holding company, has launched a policy to promote “crowd by default” throughout the group. In addition, Mr. Tsuchiya raised the need to jointly develop an organization to support the actual promotion of the cloud, not just the policy, and the establishment of a cloud CoE was considered.

“There is also the issue of how to deploy the wealth of knowledge that Mr. Tsuchiya already has throughout the Group, and we have been discussing this since FY2020. I consulted with people who are knowledgeable about the CoE at cloud service providers, as well as information about how they are working to develop cloud human resources, and deepened my understanding. We have come to understand that there is a limit to what the IT department can do alone in order to attract attention and act as a driving force, and that unless various departments such as public relations and sales get involved, things won’t go well.” (Mr. Yasuoka)

Role of Cloud CoE

Role of Cloud CoE

Thus, the Cloud CoE was established at Sompo Holdings. The members will consist of more than 10 people in their 20s to 40s, including those seconded from group companies and mid-career hires as full-time employees. Not only veterans, but also several young members who will be responsible for the group’s future digital and IT utilization participate. “I want young members to learn about the cloud and be active in the future. Veteran members are also inspired by young members, and it is a stimulus to brace themselves and face activities.” (Mr. Yasuoka)

Many of the members come from an engineering background, but some also participate from the business side. Mr. Kanba is one of them. I would like to play a role like a bridge between group companies.”

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Sompo’s cloud CoE takes on the challenge of group-wide cloud promotion – Part 1

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