|By Dana Gardner||
|May 6, 2014 10:45 AM EDT||
Healthcare SaaS application developer PointClickCare has had to manage high growth while maintaining even higher quality of services delivery demands amid constant up-time requirements.
Whether it's monitoring medication management in a closed-loop integration with pharmacies, or managing weekly release schedules for their software, the change is constant at PointClickCare, based in Toronto.
To help maintain control and remain ever-ready for improvements, PointClickCare recently adopted a cloud-based IT service management (ITSM) solution. To learn the benefits and lessons learned in moving from an older approach, BriefingsDirect had an opportunity to sit down with Craig Schultz, Director of Hosting Operations at PointClickCare.
The discussion, conducted at the recent HP Discover 2013 Conference in Barcelona, is moderated by me, Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions.
Here are some excerpts:
Gardner: We know that healthcare is a very dynamic environment, and there is a lot going on in moving organizations to electronic health records (EHRs). How is this affecting your business?
Schultz: We’re very busy, adding customers all of the time, trying to keep up with the demand for data, installing new customers, training customers, deploying new platforms on our end, infrastructure changes, and of course, rolling out Service Anywhere.
Gardner: And because your application is delivered through multi-tenancy, software as a service (SaaS) and cloud to all these healthcare organizations, software is more than a core competency. It practically defines your business.
Schultz: Exactly. As a SaaS provider, we need to always be up. Up-time is our biggest focus. The other part is release management. How do we keep updating our software, staying competitive, being agile along with our developers, and constantly improving ourselves?
Gardner: And you're no johnny-come-lately to the cloud. You’ve been doing SaaS for quite some time.
Schultz: Yes, for approximately 10 years. We were one of the original ones to kick it off in our market. From that, we've grown it, and now it's scalable. We're in multiple countries, and we're looking at how to continue to grow and keep the SaaS model and multi-tenancy as efficient as possible.
Gardner: Craig, how about the mobile revolution? How is that impacting your business? Does it matter whether they’re using a tablet to access your services, other devices, or PCs? How is the device end of things affecting you?
Schultz: Good question. We're fully cross-browser. From a platform standpoint, it doesn't matter. We’re actually releasing our Point of Care and related software on the Apple iPad and iPhone. We’re looking at it as if they have a dedicated tablet that they could use in their environment or they have one of the PCs or related items.
Gardner: I have to assume, Craig, that this is a mission-critical application for these healthcare organizations. They’re administrating medications, tracking billing, tracking what takes place through a process along a medical trajectory, all very much in real time, very mission-critical.
Schultz: Absolutely. This is a 24×7 service that’s used all the time. As you say, with medication management we do a closed loop with the pharmacies for ordering. Obviously, safety is the biggest priority for our customers and for us. So on the SaaS service, we need to make sure that all the tools are current. We have our monitoring and our stats. Then, obviously, if there are any issues, incident management is one of the key areas.
Gardner: Tell me how you do operations and development. I believe that with software being so critical, when you do fast iterations for a multi-tenancy environment, DevOps is a priority, but with development and operations, there’s no daylight between them.
Schultz: Exactly. Our development team runs by agile, as a lot of places do. At PointClickCare, we’re looking at a weekly release schedules in general. That means constant change and constant releases. DevOps is a priority. We need to make sure that the QA people have their servers. Then, it goes to production, and there aren't any problems when we release it. We make sure that that’s a defined process, scripted, and then tied into our tools.
Gardner: Given that you’re the Director of Hosting Operations, what do you need in terms of other outside help to get this done? What were the challenges and requirements you had and then how did you fulfill them?
Schultz: What we wanted to solve at this point was to improve our processes, our definitions, and our policies on how we deploy our software and make sure that they’re set on standards. We were looking at an ITSM tool that would bring that framework to us to help us mature and take us to that next level, as we look at how much change and growth we're going through.
Gardner: How long have you been using HP Service Anywhere?
Schultz: We have been using Service Anywhere for three months. At this time, we’ve rolled it out into the whole hosting operations team. We use it for tracking all of our change management, incident management, problem management, then related key performance indicators (KPIs).
Gardner: How did you do it before?
Schultz: We used a CASE system. It wasn’t defined as a ticketing system, and it was very hard to track information. What made it harder was the lack of searchability within there to find that information. How do you do reporting? How do you really look at the statistics? So we launched this new tool, and that’s taking care of all that.
Gardner: This sounds a bit like changing the wings on an airplane while still flying. Did you find the transition difficult? What was most difficult about it?
Schultz: The transition was made simpler by engaging HP Technology Services. We used them extensively for our training. We did the ITIL training ahead of time with our staff. We used HP services to come in and walk us through this. They’re the experts on the tool.
Probably the biggest difficulty was, as you say, getting the resources to the people that were dedicated to this project while running full speed ahead. There was no delay.
Gardner: I know it's a little early in the roll out, but have there been any indicators of how it's functioning and any metrics of success or return-on-investment (ROI) types of inputs?
Schultz: Our biggest results right now is that 100 percent of changes are tracked in the system. They’re following our change-management process. We can go through, review them, monitor them, look at the results of the changes, and actually get end-to-end process development.
We actually have that closed loop on change and incident management. We’re now tracking all incidents that we weren't before. Because of the system, you can look for them after. So you can build any trajectory or problem management. When you look at the suite of change incidents and problems, we have that full loop in our operations.
From a measurement standpoint, that has reduced the amount of time that it takes for us to actually implement a change. If we’re asked to create a database, create new customers, whatever it might be, we can turn that around a lot faster because there aren't delays in the system.
Gardner: Any thoughts, once you get further into HP Service Anywhere, as to what you'll be integrating this into other activities, further back into the development phase, perhaps associated with code management? Where do you go next?
Schultz: Where we go next is around the new versions and new software. As we bring on the new versions of the software and Service Anywhere, we’re going to implement the new tools. So when we look at the self-service portal, how do we roll that out to the users to be able to connect, create their own requests or, even better, solve their own problems. That will reduce a lot of the load runner IT team and lot of those tickets that we are getting from that.
Looking at some of the integration points, that’s going to be how we automate our changes, our software, and our incidents in the future. That’s going to all tie in the Service Anywhere. As well, we’re looking at rolling it out across the company. That way, everybody uses a centralized tool. It has all the functionality that you need. Develop the KPIs, and run by the numbers and metrics.
You may also be interested in:
- Software security pays off: How Heartland Payment Systems gains steep ROI via software assurance tools and methods
- HP ART documentation and readiness tools bring better user experiences to Nordic IT solutions provider EVRY
- NASCAR attains intimacy and affinity with fans worldwide using big data analytics
- Network virtualization eases developer and operations snafus in the mobile and cloud era
- Siemens Brazil blazes a best practices path to deliver work flow applications on mobile devices
- Service virtualization solves bottlenecks amid complex billing process for German telco
- Nimble Storage Leverages Big Data and Cloud to Produce Data Performance Optimization on the Fly
- Inside story on how HP implemented the TippingPoint intrusion prevention system across its own security infrastructure
- In remaking itself, HP delivers the IT means for struggling enterprises to remake themselves
- MZI Healthcare Identifies Big Data Patient Productivity Gems Using HP Vertica
The 4th International DevOps Summit, co-located with16th International Cloud Expo – being held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY – announces that its Call for Papers is now open. Born out of proven success in agile development, cloud computing, and process automation, DevOps is a macro trend you cannot afford to miss. From showcase success stories from early adopters and web-scale businesses, DevOps is expanding to organizations of all sizes, including the world's largest enterprises – and delivering real results. Among the proven benefits, DevOps is correlated with 2...
Oct. 31, 2014 08:15 PM EDT Reads: 2,198
We live in a time when seconds – even milliseconds – can have a dramatic economic impact on your company’s future. With technology being the primary conduit for consumer interaction, the user experience is at center stage. User experience will be a deciding factor in separating the future winners from the losers. By building more speed and agility into the application delivery process, DevOps promises great rewards. However, with this promise, also come significant ramifications for failure. In his session at DevOps Summit, Tom Lounibos, SOASTA CEO, will explore both the benefits and the som...
Oct. 31, 2014 06:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,483
Our expectations for buying all sorts of consumer goods has gone through a radical transformation we now take for granted. Why should we not expect this same level of service from IT businesses? We accept the status quo for how software delivery exists today but would reject it without hesitation if it were applied to pretty much any other online consumer experience. Take pizza delivery as an example. Fifteen years ago ordering a pizza meant trying to choose an item from a grease-stained menu somebody shoved under your door. You'd make a phone call and end up speaking to somebody who sounded ...
Oct. 30, 2014 10:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,278
When an enterprise builds a hybrid IaaS cloud connecting its data center to one or more public clouds, security is often a major topic along with the other challenges involved. Security is closely intertwined with the networking choices made for the hybrid cloud. Traditional networking approaches for building a hybrid cloud try to kludge together the enterprise infrastructure with the public cloud. Consequently this approach requires risky, deep "surgery" including changes to firewalls, subnets and other modifications to the corporate security infrastructure. Connecting a public cloud to the ...
Oct. 30, 2014 07:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,637
SYS-CON Events announced today that Grid Dynamics, the leading provider of scalable eCommerce technology solutions, will exhibit at DevOps Summit Silicon Valley, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Grid Dynamics is a leading provider of open, scalable, next-generation commerce technology solutions for Tier 1 retail. Grid Dynamics has in-depth expertise in commerce technologies, wide involvement in the open source community and a modern, global workforce. Great companies, partnered with Grid Dynamics, gain a sustainable business...
Oct. 30, 2014 06:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,276
Docker offers a new, lightweight approach to application portability. Applications are shipped using a common container format and managed with a high-level API. Their processes run within isolated namespaces that abstract the operating environment independently of the distribution, versions, network setup, and other details of this environment. This "containerization" has often been nicknamed "the new virtualization." But containers are more than lightweight virtual machines. Beyond their smaller footprint, shorter boot times, and higher consolidation factors, they also bring a lot of new fea...
Oct. 30, 2014 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,831
For better or worse, DevOps has gone mainstream. All doubt was removed when IBM and HP threw up their respective DevOps microsites. Where are we on the hype cycle? It's hard to say for sure but there's a feeling we're heading for the "Peak of Inflated Expectations". What does this mean for the Enterprise? Should they avoid DevOps? Definitely not. Should they be cautious though? Absolutely. The truth is that DevOps and the Enterprise are at best strange bedfellows. The movement has its roots in the tech community's elite. Open source projects and methodologies driven by the alumni of companies ...
Oct. 30, 2014 01:45 PM EDT Reads: 2,014
SYS-CON Events announced today that Serena Software will exhibit at DevOps Summit Silicon Valley, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Serena Software supports DevOps and Continuous Delivery by providing application deployment automation and software release management solutions to replace slow and error-prone manual processes. 2,500 enterprises around the world trust Serena to help them develop and deploy better software.
Oct. 30, 2014 01:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,638
We are all here because we are sold on the transformative promise of The Cloud. But what good is all of this ephemeral, on-demand infrastructure if your usage doesn't actually improve the agility and speed of your business? How must Operations adapt in order to avoid stifling your Cloud initiative? In his session at DevOps Summit, Damon Edwards, co-founder and managing partner of the DTO Solutions, will highlight the successful organizational, process, and tooling patterns of high-performing companies that have reshaped their Operations to enable the business to get full value from their Clo...
Oct. 29, 2014 01:35 PM EDT Reads: 1,343
SYS-CON Events announced today that O'Reilly Media has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. O'Reilly Media spreads the knowledge of innovators through its books, online services, magazines, and conferences. Since 1978, O'Reilly Media has been a chronicler and catalyst of cutting-edge development, homing in on the technology trends that really matter and spurring their adoption by amplifying "faint signals" from the alpha geeks who are creating the future. An...
Oct. 29, 2014 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,662
SYS-CON Events announced today that Gigaom Research has been named "Media Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Ashar Baig, Research Director, Cloud, at Gigaom Research, will also lead a Power Panel on the topic "Choosing the Right Cloud Option." Gigaom Research provides timely, in-depth analysis of emerging technologies for individual and corporate subscribers. Gigaom Research's network of 200+ independent analysts provides new content daily that bridges the gap between break...
Oct. 28, 2014 11:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,720
Sanjeev Sharma is the latest author to join DevOps Journal. Sanjeev is a solution architect and DevOps Worldwide lead with Rational Software, an IBM brand and the author of 'DevOps for Dummies.' DevOps Journal is focused on this critical enterprise IT topic in the world of cloud computing. SYS-CON Media CEO Carmen Gonzalez is founder and publisher of DevOps Journal, and Roger Strukhoff, long-time SYS-CON editor and the conference chair of Cloud Expo is the editor of the world's leading DevOps resource.
Oct. 28, 2014 11:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,349
SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM is holding a Bluemix Developer Playground on November 5, 10:30 am to 5:30 pm at 15th Cloud Expo. 15th Cloud Expo, co-located with @ThingsExpo, Big Data Expo, and DevOps Summit is taking place Nov. 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. The labs, for developers of all levels, will highlight the ease of use of Bluemix, its services and functionality and provide short-term introductory projects that developers can complete between sessions. Developers will be able spend as much time as they want working on specific DevOps pro...
Oct. 28, 2014 08:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,637
When you set off to build an app that will change the world, designing your system architecture to be reliable and scalable is important but the stark reality is that, for your MVP, you probably had a “need for speed” (of development). You didn’t know what all the axes were to scale your application, where your stress points would be, and what weird and wonderful ways your customers would use it down the road. In a world of zero-downtime services, landing the plane to figure it out is not an option. In his session at DevOps Summit, Andrew Miklas, CTO of PagerDuty, will share lessons learned ...
Oct. 27, 2014 09:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,945
SYS-CON Events announced today that SOASTA, the leader in cloud and mobile testing, will exhibit at DevOps Summit Silicon Valley, which will take place November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. SOASTA is the leader in cloud testing. Its web and mobile test automation and monitoring solutions, CloudTest, TouchTest and mPulse, enable developers, QA professionals and IT operations teams to test and monitor users with unprecedented speed, scale, precision and visibility. The innovative product set streamlines test creation, automates provisioning and execution, ...
Oct. 27, 2014 06:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,598
Founded in 1997, ActiveState is a global leader providing software application development and management solutions. The Company's products include: Stackato, a commercially supported Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) that harnesses open source technologies such as Cloud Foundry and Docker; dynamic language distributions ActivePerl, ActivePython and ActiveTcl; and developer tools such as the popular Komodo Edit and Komodo IDE. Headquartered in Vancouver, Canada, ActiveState is trusted by customers and partners worldwide, across many industries including telecommunications, aerospace, software, fina...
Oct. 23, 2014 09:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,943
SYS-CON Events announced today that ElasticBox is holding a Hackathon at DevOps Summit, November 6 from 12 pm -4 pm at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. You can enter as an individual or team of up to 10 developers. A New Star Is Born Every Month! All completed ElasticBoxes will then be sent to a judging panel - 12 winners will be featured on the ElasticBox website in 2015. All entrants will receive five full enterprise licenses for one year + ElasticBox headphones + ElasticBox T-shirt. Winners can also choose to interview with ElasticBox to join one of the fastest growi...
Oct. 22, 2014 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,778
SYS-CON Events announced today that Calm.io has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of DevOps Summit Silicon Valley, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Calm.io is a cloud orchestration platform for AWS, vCenter, OpenStack, or bare metal, that runs your CL tools puppet, Chef, shell, git, Jenkins, nagios, and will soon support New Relic and Docker. It can run hosted, or on premise and provides VM automation / expiry, self-service portals, audit, approvals, and budgeting.
Oct. 21, 2014 08:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,789
Blue Box has closed a $10 million Series B financing. The round was led by a strategic investor and included participation from prior investors including Voyager Capital and Founders Collective, as well as the Blue Box executive team. This round follows a $4.3 million Series A closed in December of 2012 and led by Voyager Capital. In May of this year, the company announced general availability of its private cloud as a service offering, Blue Box Cloud. Since that release, the company has demonstrated market validation through customer adoption, positive reviews from industry analysts and k...
Oct. 21, 2014 01:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,831
The speed of product development has increased massively in the past 10 years. At the same time our formal secure development and SDL methodologies have fallen behind. This forces product developers to choose between rapid release times and security. In his session at DevOps Summit, Michael Murray, Director of Cyber Security Consulting and Assessment at GE Healthcare, will examine the problems and present some solutions for moving security in to the DevOps lifecycle to ensure that we get fast AND secure.
Oct. 20, 2014 11:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,671