Case Study: Microsoft Azure
Connance Improves Solution Delivery with Transition to Azure Cloud
Connance, Inc. provides predictive analytic technology solutions that enable healthcare providers to optimize financial and clinical workflows. Offerings include revenue cycle management solutions, such as patient-pay optimization services, including patient-pay collections, presumptive charity, predictive analytics, and coverage discovery; vendor management solutions; and claims optimization solutions to reduce denials and underpayments. In 2018, after the implementation laid out below, Connance merged with Waystar, a leading provider of revenue cycle technology for the healthcare industry.
Connance utilizes a cloud-based optimization platform to deliver its predictive analytic technology solutions to customers. This is a critical element of their operation because it is the foundation of their business solutions.
When the infrastructure of physical servers located in a Rackspace datacenter wasn’t meeting requirements for turnaround, costs and overall security, the IT team sought a better solution.
Connance engaged with iV4, a Microsoft Gold Partner known for their cloud expertise, to provide a consulting assessment, proof of concept, and to develop and implement a customized Azure migration strategy. Because Connance had standardized on Microsoft and utilized Microsoft SQL Database Software, they looked to Microsoft Azure.
iV4 executed the project in two phases. Phase 1 focused on an Azure design implementation with server migration of development, staging and disaster recovery computer environments from Rackspace dedicated servers to Azure.
A Proof of Concept (POC) approach was an important element prior to Phase 1, as it enabled testing to provide data for optimization. The right-sizing for virtual machines (VMs) was determined to give improved IOPS performance across the workloads and reduce processing times they were experiencing with Rackspace, which was a driving factor for the change. The POC showed the baseline needed for each application server, and it proved that with Azure’s scalability, they could actually run fewer servers.
Phase 1 also required iV4 to implement separation of subnets for different components, isolating development, disaster recovery, quality assurance, staging, and research in order to increase security and prevent exposure of new proprietary code to other systems. With the success of Phase 1, the team embarked on Phase 2 of the project which included the implementation of an Azure design of the production compute environments and migration of all production resources from Rackspace dedicated servers and virtual servers to Azure.
Connance is known in the industry as an innovator, and it was important to utilize technology in their operations that would improve performance and provide a competitive advantage. The transition to the Azure cloud has brought the following benefits:
Improved Reliability and Availability – Providing more reliability behind the Connance product and services with the assurance that customer data has 99.9% availability and guaranteed uptime, and is backed up in the Azure Data Centers.
Reduced Turnaround Time – In Azure, the spin-up of servers is more efficient. The time it took to get a server allocated, spun up, encrypted, and add all the storage decreased from what could take up to a month with Rackspace to only a half day with Azure.
“The improved turnaround time and the scalability of Azure allows us to take on larger customer projects without having such a long stop gap between getting the new contract and getting the customer up and running in our world,” Tim Rogers, Manager, Information Technology & Security stated. “This allows us to be more responsive to customers and we can achieve our goals much faster.”
Reduced Costs – With the ability to pay as you go, spinning up servers as needed and powering off when not needed, Connance is able to capture cost savings compared to paying for servers on a one-year contractual basis. They also reduced licensing costs since they do not have the upfront spend they previously had with Rackspace for SQL Server Enterprise.
Improved Security and Manageability – Connance found that with Azure it’s easier to manage everything from one location, instead of monitoring separate components through different devices, as they did previously, where they also had limited access. The Microsoft Control Center for Azure enables the IT team to monitor whatever is needed within the firewall, including intrusion prevention and intrusion detection security logs and provides more security features.
Greater Efficiencies – With the transition to Azure, the Connance team realized a significant increase in speed for database refreshes to update development data with current data pulled from production. This was a big improvement over having to monitor it all weekend. The efficiencies gained allow Connance to test applications faster before they push out new builds, and they can make sure the integrity of the data stays true even after those changes are implemented.
“I was confident moving forward with the project, with the iV4 team of cloud consultants and engineers by our side every step of the way through the data center migration and ongoing maintenance and optimization. The iV4 team continually demonstrated great expertise and has been an asset to us. When we needed help, we could rely on iV4 to jump on it immediately to either to identify a solution or schedule time to work on it. Since iV4 has such a strong relationship with Microsoft, at times they were able to reach out to resources not available to us and were able to get the answers we needed.”
David Franklin, COO, Connance (now SVP of Commercialization at Waystar)