With Legacy Technology, Complex Systems and Regulatory Requirements, this Healthcare Organization Needed Microsoft Expertise.

by | 16 Sep, 2021 | Case Study

Solution: Cloud
Field: Healthcare

An 18-billion-dollar healthcare organization called upon Advizex to help them update and streamline the core of their IT environment. Thanks to our expertise in large-scale, complex, and older versions of Microsoft technology, we were able to achieve all this and more, while ensuring a positive user experience.

Success Story Snapshot:

  • This is a story about numbers. It’s a large-scale consolidation and migration initiative that started with multiple legacy environments, acquired through numerous acquisitions.
  • As is typical with this kind of technical debt, long-term administration and additional growth become difficult and riddled with complexities.
  • Our experienced Advizex Microsoft and project management experts solved those complexities through strategic planning and a carefully phased-in implementation.

Founded in 1848, this customer is a national, blended healthcare organization. Not only do they provide direct patient care through their hospital and physician networks, but they also provide insurance solutions. They are one of the largest Blue Cross Blue Shield insurers in the country, and they serve consumers nationwide.

Due to growth through acquisition and partner mergers, a backlog of legacy hospital organizations and clinical branches existed. Like many fast-growing organizations who inherit IT from acquired entities, their IT systems were older, complex, and had some gaps. Integrating everything into one core infrastructure was a huge undertaking for 3 main reasons:

  • Disparate AD/Identity and legacy (non-supported) Exchange systems
  • 55,000+ user accounts spread across 4 primary domains
  • 1,000+ application and data servers consisting of unknown server owners, potential third-party vendors, and many out-of-support applications

Starting in 2017, the Advizex Microsoft team went to work.

The Advizex Microsoft Solution Proven Approach.

Proper planning is always important; however, it takes on even greater importance in large-scale projects. These projects work best in a two-phase approach:

Phase 1: Analyze, plan, and design
Phase 2: Build, deploy, migrate

This particular endeavor was so large and complex that it was a multi-year, multi-phase project.

More Than Technology, It’s People Who Solve Problems.

We say all the time that our people are some of the smartest, most capable professionals in the industry, and this story supports why that’s important.

First, maintaining a project like this requires people who plan holistically and manage in parts. To keep the project focused and on-track, an experienced technical program manager is essential. For this project, one program manager managed multiple technical project managers.

Second, the organization grew fast and inherited so many systems that there were gaps in both historical tribal knowledge as well as documented artifacts. The original creators weren’t there to explain why a decision was made or how something may have been built a certain way. Creating a higher level of complexity, these gaps meant we needed to thoroughly and systematically dig in. End-to-end solutioning was paramount – and that means more than just the technologies.

Technology can only do so much. We needed to have conversations, engage business owners, process owners, and vendor partners. Navigating people – especially at a healthcare organization during a pandemic – is a special skill. Our approach is collaborative and working side-by-side with our customer’s IT professionals, we were able to get the job done.

Laying the Groundwork With Active Directory.

Once all systems were analyzed and an initial roadmap created, the first year was spent preparing, remediating, and tooling for actual migration work, then consolidating multiple domains into one. Work was broken into phases with workstations and users first, followed by several waves of application/data servers, thin clients, etc. This migration consisted of moving more than 55,000 users.

To help ensure a successful migration, Advizex called upon one of our trusted partners, Quest. Through Quest’s migration manager, Advizex and the customer achieved this massive migration without disrupting day-to-day business. This is important for all businesses but never more so than one in healthcare. The Quest migration tools were invaluable to our success.

Our efforts included all aspects of design/planning, imaging/system builds, installation and management of Quest migration tools, and all user/workstation object migrations. Once phase one, user/computer objects migration was complete, we moved to the server and applications migration phases.

Moving to the Cloud via Microsoft 365

Moving a massive number of users into Microsoft 365 takes careful planning and experience because this affects their daily communication. It’s their email, after all. In the first portion of the move, we migrated more than 18,000 users.

More than the technical management, change management techniques need to be implemented. Effective communication and training are essential. We worked to ensure the customer’s Help Desk staff were fully informed and ready to help people through the transition. Once we had learnings from this first group, we completed the plan for the second.

In the fall of 2021, a second group (27,000 users) of 365 migration users began and is targeted to wrap up in the spring of 2022.

The Microsoft & Advizex Benefit

When complete, this multi-project endeavor of consolidating and cleaning up the complex legacy debt gives our customer a vastly improved, robust infrastructure and modernized IT platform that is positioned very well for the next decade and beyond of continued growth. Their revised and renewed Microsoft environments help improve their processes from top to bottom, giving them ease of management, supportability, flexibility and streamlined operations.