Hello and welcome to Runtime! Today: How New York Life is modernizing its tech infrastructure, Nvidia's magical month continues, and this week in enterprise startup funding.
Insurance for the future
When New York Life was founded in 1845, the cutting-edge tool of the day was the rubber band. Information technology has evolved a tad since then, and CIO Bill Cassidy's job is to bring the insurance company into the 21st century.
"We're not dissimilar from large organizations with a fair amount of technical debt that we're trying to remediate, and, at the same time, we're trying to create modern experiences for our agents and our customers," he said in a recent interview.
New York Life is in the middle of what Cassidy called "a multiyear strategy" to modernize its technology infrastructure and applications around three key areas: cloud computing, cybersecurity, and data management.
- When the infrastructure project is complete, "we envision about a third of our applications will be in our (colocation) facility, a third of our applications will be in our cloud environment, and a third of our applications will be hosted (by) the SaaS provider," Cassidy said.
- The company is still running "multiple critical applications" on mainframes, Cassidy said, and while New York Life eventually plans to replace those apps with more modern versions, he still thinks mainframes have a role to play in modern enterprise computing.
- "Our policy administration application is homegrown. It's not a highly performing application because it runs on the mainframe, it's not a highly performing application because it was built 60 years ago for a different set of use cases," he said.
- Still, "last time I checked at MIT they're not teaching COBOL, more than likely, as a primary language," Cassidy said.
Modernizing New York Life's approach to cybersecurity was Cassidy's next concern.
- "If you are not thinking about modernizing your cybersecurity capabilities in concert with moving your compute and data into the cloud, you'll find yourself digging yourself a hole that you're not going to be very happy in," he said.
- New York Life operates its own security operations center to detect and monitor its systems for any anomalies using tools from Zscaler and IBM.
- The company partnered with Deloitte to staff that security center and conduct the actual monitoring around the clock, which allowed its in-house security professionals to focus on more strategic problems, Cassidy said.
- "This is one of those good examples that if you pick the right strategy, technologically, it also opens up an opportunity to use your talent in a much more creative way," he said.
Insurance has always been a data-driven business. But the real challenge with data at the moment, however, isn't so much about managing and storing the data but making sure you get something out of it, Cassidy said.
- "I think really what the step function change is going to be is on the insight generation, not on the data management side. And this is where the AI comes in," he said.
- New York Life has set a few internal restrictions around how employees use tools like ChatGPT — "there's a cost component," he wryly noted — but for the most part is encouraging its workforce to use generative AI tools to solve business problems and move more quickly.
- "We are fundamentally challenging the multiyear strategy we have from a business perspective to see if there's a different way that we can look at solving those problems through generative AI in the interest of leapfrogging and accelerating our modernization."
Nvidia mints the coin
Computex 2023 kicked off this week in Taiwan, and Nvidia took center stage to introduce new enterprise computing products hours before its market cap flirted with the trillion-dollar barrier.
Nvidia's valuation would eventually close the day at a mere $992 billion, but it's clear that it has all the momentum among Big Tech companies as the AI craze heats up. CEO Jensen Huang unveiled the DGX GH200 supercomputer as the latest design to feature its combo CPU/GPU chip called Grace Hopper, named after the famous computer scientist.
GPUs have been the power behind Nvidia's rise over the last several years, but the company could really shake up the enterprise tech pecking order should it find traction with CPU designs. Nvidia said that Google Cloud, Meta, and Microsoft would get first crack at the new supercomputer but it will also make a reference design available to other cloud providers so they can offer it to their customers.
Sastrify raised $32 million in Series B funding to help expand its portfolio of SaaS procurement tools.
Elementl landed $33 million in Series B funding as it tries to help companies move to a more modern data-management stack.
Poolside, led by former GitHub CTO Jason Warner, raised a $26 million seed round to build a new foundation for AI-powered coding assistants.
DataOps.live secured $17.5 million in new funding to continue its work building a DevOps-style platform on top of Snowflake's cloud data warehouse.
The Runtime roundup
Someone took down the Internet Archive over the weekend by launching "tens of thousands of requests per second for our public domain OCR files" from AWS, according to the organization.
HPE stock fell almost 7% after it missed analyst expectations for revenue and lowered its guidance for the upcoming quarter.
AWS and Elastic appear to have put their many differences well behind them, signing a new three-year "strategic collaboration agreement" that will see the companies working more closely together to sell the other's services to customers.
Thanks for reading — see you Thursday!
Correction: An earlier version of this newsletter incorrectly identified how much money Elementl had raised. Series B fund sizes have grown an awful lot, but they are not yet worth billions.