OLifE Specification Takes Hold

REDMOND, Wash., May 13, 1996 — OLifE from Microsoft Corp. has secured a position as the pre-eminent specification for data integration in the life-insurance industry, garnering praise from established ISVs, support from leading insurance companies, and adoption by one of the industry’s most important standards bodies.

We’re delighted to see this rising tide of support for OLifE at the corporate and ISV levels,
“said Bill Hartnett, worldwide insurance-industry manager at Microsoft.”
Such widespread acceptance can only make corporate migration plans easier and create even better sales opportunities for technology providers.

Based on OLE 2.0, OLifE is a life-insurance-specific, object-based specification that lets applications share information. In so doing, it eliminates one of the thorniest problems in the insurance industry: data integration. No longer do agents have to re-enter critical customer information when switching among applications; any solution written to the OLifE specification can communicate with any other, freeing companies to select best-of-breed tools. Moreover, OLifE lets these tools use existing files; companies do not have to create new data models or change existing databases.

The key to OLifE is that it is an open, freely available specification developed with broad industry support,
“Hartnett said.”
Object technology used to be mainly the domain of large companies, but OLifE levels the playing field.

OLifE is a terrific solution for long-term, maintainable data integration,
“said Morgan Underwood, vice president of product development for E-Z Data Inc., a developer of client data systems.”
It removes the limitations and costs inherent in proprietary, single-vendor integration schemes.

We have nearly 25,000 corporate users,
“Underwood continued.”
All of them want the flexibility to choose best-of-breed components when building an integrated-agent desktop. With OLifE, it no longer takes a multiyear plan to achieve that integration.

Our clients have been trying for decades to achieve data integration among applications,
“said Geoffrey Preston, executive vice president of ECTA Corp., which will deploy two OLifE-compatible illustration packages next month.”
The OLifE specification finally addresses that problem.

OLifE provides reusable code and interfaces to streamline product development and help ensure consistency among applications. Companies can also test OLifE objects individually, improving software reliability and reducing — if not eliminating — the need for vendor-specific code.

When a company selects an OLifE-compliant product, it doesn’t have to worry about software compatibility,
“Hartnett said.”
OLifE removes a significant barrier to solution adoption and expands the markets for ISV products that add value.

Daniel Smith, president of Benefit Technology Inc., agreed.
“We’re predicting many strategic alliances among vendors to develop total solutions,”
said Smith, whose firm develops illustration software for half the top-20 life-insurance companies in the country.
“This process will dramatically increase the quality of the applications available to home offices and their agents.”

Microsoft originally developed OLifE in concert with the Solutions for Life Insurance Enterprise Computing (SLIEC) alliance, an industry consortium that included Andersen Consulting, E-Z Data, FDP, Lincoln National, and Sterling Wentworth Corp. Now, Microsoft is talking with the Agency Company Organization for Research and Development (ACORD), an industry-standards group, about assuming management of the specification.

Microsoft played a pivotal role in getting OLifE to where it is today,
“said Philip Harker, senior vice president of Sterling Wentworth Corp.”
ACORD is the perfect organization — a not-for-profit, standards-setting body — to position and control the specification in the future.

In addition to future OLifE specifications, ACORD is drafting another OLE-based standard. Known as AL4, the specification will turn many insurance forms into reusable OLE objects and standardize and streamline the exchange of data between insurance agencies and companies.

OLifE is currently supported on the Microsoft® Windows® family of operating systems and the Apple® Macintosh® platform. Future software components based on OLifE will also be able to interoperate across all major versions of the UNIX®
and MVS operating systems.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (NASDAQ
) is the worldwide leader in software for personal computers. The company offers a wide range of products and services for business and personal use, each designed with the mission of making it easier and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power of personal computing every day.

Microsoft and Windows are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and other countries.

Apple and Macintosh are registered trademarks of Apple Computer Inc.

UNIX is a registered trademark in the United States and other countries, licensed exclusively through X/Open Company Ltd.

VMS is a trademark of Digital Equipment Corp.

For online information:

Microsoft insurance industry home page: http://www.microsoft.com/industry/insurance/

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