Our client, established over three decades ago by a family physician looking to provide clients with proactive, exceptional healthcare services, has evolved into a prominent integrated healthcare and wellness leader, boasting a team of 90+ skilled physicians, clinicians, and 600+ staff members. It offers various membership tiers for individuals and families and tailored programs for employers wanting to provide top-tier health and wellness initiatives to their employees. Its diverse medical specialists and wellness experts, including family physicians, dermatologists, dietitians, psychologists, chiropractors, physiotherapists, and fitness trainers, offer convenience, continuity of care, and access to specialty tests.
The client used an established middleware solution to integrate internal and external systems with different communication protocols. The platform managed features related to data transformation, asynchronous communication, and security. Its internal systems would send and receive messages through the platform, hosted within virtual machines in Microsoft Azure Web APIs and Windows Services. The client’s challenge was three-fold.
Ongoing Support Requirements:
Our clients were not getting the support they needed from the software provider. When they identified important platform improvements, they had to call the software vendor because their internal team did not have the knowledge required to troubleshoot, fix, or work around the issues.
Coupled Features Caused Broad-Based Consequences:
Because the existing resources were fully concentrated within the middleware, operating features like service orchestration and data transformation in isolation were impossible. The coupling of features meant that a failure in one would significantly impact the entire middleware platform.
Excessively High Costs:
Last but certainly not least, the cost of the licenses and support from their middleware provider was extremely high.
Collectively, the issues introduced inefficiencies into the organization and negatively impacted the company’s time-to-market on new products and services. Anytime they had to engage with the vendor’s support group, there would be weeks and even monthslong delays.
Our client realized that they needed to increase the autonomy of their IT team so that new product features and improvements could be brought to market on a timelier basis. The new system needed to better align with the existing IT team’s skillsets. In addition, they must maintain certain features of the existing middleware platform, including security, scalability, availability, and easy integration between different core systems. And finally, they needed the ability to decouple the features so that failure in one component did not impact other resources. The client initially thought setting up an APIM was the answer, but further exploration led them down a different path.
At Microsoft’s suggestion, the client approached Optimus to help them solve their challenges with their existing middleware infrastructure. Optimus and the client’s team did a deep dive into the problems, and the proposal submitted by Optimus demonstrated strong technical expertise and a clear understanding of the problem. In fact, the Optimus team steered them away from an APIM and towards an integration solution using Azure to replace their existing middleware platform.
Our client already had its infrastructure in Azure, so its IT team was well-versed in the platform. This alone would significantly reduce the learning curve for other Azure services. Once Optimus architected an Azure-based solution that included all their resources with their previous middleware platform, with the added benefit of decoupling features, they were ready to move forward and commit wholly to the Microsoft stack.
The solution proposed by Optimus included the following:
Azure API Management: This allows secure exposure of internal APIs with our client’s business partners.
Azure Functions: Because internal systems are hosted inside Virtual Machines, they could be migrated to the Azure Functions. By migrating these systems to Azure Functions, the technical team was able to manage the platform themselves, eliminating the need for external support.
Azure Logic Apps: Some of the client’s integrations required unique operations for specific systems. Azure Logic Apps provided a set of connectors that allows for more intuitive and secure integrations.
Azure Monitor: By adding Azure Monitor, in conjunction with Application Insights, the client’s technology team has better visibility into the health of the overall solution. In cases of failure, the team is notified via email or SMS, allowing greater efficiency in troubleshooting problems.
Azure Service Bus: Some operations within the client’s system can take days to complete. Using Azure Service Bus, systems can work with asynchronous processes that take hours and even days. In addition, the tool is fully integrated with Azure Monitor, allowing the technology team to easily verify and measure the performance of any asynchronous process.
The big wins for our client were that their technical team is more vendor-independent when there’s a need to make changes and launch new products and is less caught up in managing day-to-day infrastructure issues.
IT Team Autonomy and Visibility:
As a result of the switch to Azure, the technology team gained more autonomy to carry out its activities because the solution is now more aligned with their technical skills. The technology team also has more visibility into the health of the overall solution and is more efficient in cases of failure.
Today, the technology team can focus more on the company’s business operations than on managing the infrastructure because it is self-managed by Azure. All resources present in the solution are Platform as a Service (PaaS), meaning there’s no need to worry about routine IT procedures like applying security patches, backup, and version updates.
Lower Operating Costs:
Removing the licensing and support costs associated with the previous middleware provider was significant savings. Add to that the savings from increased efficiencies within the system and considerable gains across the board.
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