I am a network engineer and designer working with an independent claims company using Integra Claim software. We are looking at upgrading their network to a thin-client arrangement using Citrix Metaframe. I was wondering if anyone has any experience with this type of network arrangement or with Microsoft's Terminal Services. This would be a perfect setup for any comapny with multiple locations, to help with the management and administration of the network. I would appreciate any feedback you may have and am always interested in any experience you would be willing to share. Just a note: MSB was very quick to say that "It will not work". With the growing popularity and industry acceptance of Citrix and Terminal Services, I find it hard to be that a software company would not move in that direction. Anyways, I look forward to hearing your responses.
Steve – Debby is correct in that some offices are using Citrix to run IntegriClaim and PowerClaim is also running using Citrix. There is no question we software vendors can do more to make the setup more straightforward and will do so. “It will not work” is often a reply from the tech support side of things because that is what they may have been told to say.
It seems Citrix may be making millions of dollars of investments made by adjusting software vendors (like Xactnet, MSB ComCentral type and other similar solutions) worth less in the future but will save the adjusting industry millions (many) of $$’s each year in lower software updating cost, reduced hardware requirements and lower security risk because the claim files are not moved over the internet but stay in the office.
About 5 years ago moving files over the web became the “hot” thing. Xactimate designed and implemented Xactnet. In January of 2001 Ron Pylant of DDS offered to give me a live demo of DDS ComCentral (now MSB, Marshall Swift/Boeckh or IntegriClaim ComCentral) at the NACA convention in San Antonio. Due to some bug he could not get it working to demonstrate it but I was able to get the gist of how they planned for it to work. Ron stated they had invested $2 million dollars in ComCentral up to that point but I do not know how much more they have invested over the past three years to actually get it working and clients on line in a major way.
As you know Citrix makes Xactimate and ComCentral like packages less attractive because it permits a carrier or adjusting firm to side-step the cost, data security issues inherent in moving actually claims data over the web and most of all cutting out the individual file fees for using these current web based solutions.
With Citrix you do need a 56K dial up connection (high speed internet is not required but should not drop connections like with phone modems), which would be a showstopper in a CAT situation with no phones around but even with Xactnet and IntegriClaim ComCentral you have to find a connection at some point. With Citrix if you drop a connection when you log back in the server your curser will be flashing where you were at in the software when the connection was broken. Dropping a connection is only like having your mouse and keyboard become disconnected at your desktop today.
A 386 computer will perform about like a Pentium 4 the experienced Citrix techs tell me. The reason is no claim files are being moved over the Internet. All that is moving is keystrokes, mouse movements and photos (here HS connection would be a big plus and most residential staff adjusters have it today that are using PowerClaim). For an example the Armada M300 P2 333 6GB 128MB 56K V90 11.3 TFT Win 95 refurbished note books at $370 each would be overkill for running claims. Even DOS is fine.
We have gone full circle back to “dumb” terminals with Citrix type solutions. The horsepower needs to be in the PC servers. With PowerClaim for example the Citrix experts tell us another server will need to be added for every 30 users you will have using PowerClaim at the same time. Citrix will view your server farm as one big server making the set up easier to manage.
The savings from the IT side is huge. A carrier with 500 adjusters on stand-alone computers would move from having to load and update 500 systems located in homes across the US to only 10+ servers located in the IT department of the home/branch office. The all of the adjusters could be working from the same carrier or adjusting firm edited materials database for a storm. Keeping everyone on the same page would be a snap. Just think about storm prices always being updated in your database by the carrier/vendor.
For the very small offices they will be able to lease space on a Citrix server farm so they do not have to get involved with the technical side of things. Actually the positive impact Citrix (which runs on top of MS Terminal Services) will have on the adjusting industry is still not known at this time but that is changing on a daily bases. It is known at least IntegriClaim and PowerClaim are functioning on Citrix based adjusting solutions at this time.
With the event of Open Standard/Unlocked Claim Files each vendor/carrier will be able to do their own data mining for example without being forced to use a solution similar to Xactnet or IntegriClaim ComCentral.
We all know nothing is ever as bad or as good as first thought typically. I do personally think the Citrix based types of solution coming on line today will have a positive effect on increasing the speed of settling claims while also lowering the cost of claims handling as nothing has done before.
What can scare adjusting software vendors but excite the adjusting vendors and the carriers is finally the vendors and carriers can gain full control of their claim files without marrying an adjusting software vendor long term or ever being held hostage by one in the future.
The adjusters will love this new trend that will happen over the next several years because they will no longer have to buy adjusting software. The carriers and adjusting vendors will have all of the adjusting software loaded on their servers and the adjuster will only need a computer that can log on to the internet. Well you have read my view on this subject. What is yours?