Technology can be an incredible equalizer, and we believe it can help solve challenges that are critical to society. For instance, yesterday our partner Temenos announced an inspiring use of technology in West Africa. Renaissance Credit (RenCredit), a new microfinance institution in Lagos, Nigeria, has launched on TEMENOS T24 for Microfinance and Community Banking (MCB), hosted in the cloud on Windows Azure. RenCredit aims to support the aspirations of the growing middle class in Nigeria by providing broader acess to consumer credit, which will support the country's move from a cash to a transaction-based society. 

In this environment, Windows Azure enables RenCredit to operate a pay-per-use model.  This cloud-based computing model ensures the bank is only paying for what they need, when they need it. In turn, the bank will be freed up to focus on delivering business innovation - such as scaling their IT infrastructure so they can expand into other African regions, at low risk to the business.

Another benefit of cloud computing, which has been a significant driver of adoption, is that it improves agility and helps IT deliver change. Windows Azure offers customers a cloud platform that can manage any type of application, including applications that require large amounts of compute power.  In fact, Windows Azure was designed from the beginning to support large-scale computation. Customers are already putting these Windows Azure capabilities to the test, as the following examples of large-scale compute illustrate.

Milliman is one of the world's largest providers of actuarial and related products and services. Their MG-ALFA application is widely used by insurance and financial companies for risk modeling, and is offered as a service using Windows Azure. This enables their customers to perform complex risk calculations without any capital investment or management of an on-premises cluster.  

Towers Watson is a global professional services company. Their MoSes financial modeling software applications are widely used by life insurance and annuity companies worldwide to develop new offerings and  manage their financial risk. Last month, Towers Watson announced they are adopting Windows Azure as their preferred cloud platform.  

One of Towers Watson’s initial projects for the partnership was to test the scalability of the Windows Azure compute environment by modeling the cost of insuring the world. The team used MoSes to perform individual policy calculations on the cost of issuing whole life policies to all seven billion individuals on earth. Towers Watson was impressed with their ability to complete 100,000 hours of computing in a couple of hours of real time.  

Insurance companies face increasing demands on the frequency and complexity of their financial modeling, and this test demonstrated the extraordinary possibilities that Windows Azure brings to insurers. With Windows Azure, insurers can run their financial models with greater precision, speed and accuracy for enhanced management of risk and capital.