When Boston benefits firm Longfellow Benefits decided to elevate their technology system by converting to a cloud computing model they knew there'd be a little turbulence as they made the switch.

What they didn't expect was such an immediate payoff after a massive power outage that had their competitors scrambling to stay open left Longfellow unscathed in the smooth skies of the Covisia Solutions cloud system.

Longfellow Principal Craig Cerretani spoke with EBA about the March outage and adjusting to the cloud platform.


What happened with the power?

Apparently there was a huge transformer that maybe is two blocks or so away from our office and the transformer blew. Which meant basically five or six city blocks in Boston were totally out of power for [approximately] three days.

It was right in the middle of the business day and you could actually see the line of demarcation at a traffic light about three blocks away.

We've got about 32 employees and we went to the cloud I would say 4-5 months ago. We went early on because we thought this was the way everything was moving in terms of technology. But the serendipity behind it is that, as you know, without having servers in the building itself ... we didn't miss a beat.

We had no power here but we sent everybody home and everyone was working remotely and without a hiccup at all. One of our competitors is in the building, and they're basically out of business for that period of time.


Was that the scenario you had in mind when you decided to move?

I'd like to suggest that we're pretty smart and prospective thinkers, but that was more just the serendipity behind it. The original move to the cloud was [because] all of our research suggested this was going to be the most appropriate move with as much foresight as possible. We knew that we were going to be able to work remotely but we never thought of a power outage.


How was the transition?

The transition was not without its challenges. Because you know you build a certain capability and understanding of the technology and it's not a perfect science yet. So the transition was challenging. There's no question about it. But we feel that the one step back that we had to take was accompanied by three steps forward.


Was the 'step back' down time?

Yeah, exactly. We had some hiccups along the way and the hiccups were just that - hiccups. But while we were going through them we were, candidly, a little frustrated. But once it was up and running, the speed is there, and the flexibility of being able to work from wherever you can get online.


Would you recommend the cloud technology to other brokers?

I would recommend this for other firms, but go with your eyes open. Do your research first. Make sure you've got a partner that has significant experience with the cloud. Because this is not for the faint of heart. We've gone out early; I'm sure it's going to get easier over time. [Even so,] the challenges were no big deal relative to the benefit.

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