- Google Apps Migration
- North America
The Casper branch of Wyoming General Hospital opened its doors on November 1, 1911. Built with $22,500 from the Wyoming State legislature, the local hospital served the residents of Natrona County. Over the century, the original two-story building has grown into a multi-million-dollar complex that spans approximately four city blocks with 719,000 square feet of space and 207 beds. Wyoming Medical Center has the only air ambulance program in the state of Wyoming and two of its speciality centers, The Heart Center of Wyoming and The Wyoming Neuroscience and Spine Institute have both received national recognition for outstanding care.
Wyoming Medical Center had been using Novell Groupwise, a system that Information Services Manager Rob Pettigrew described as “cumbersome.”
The 200 megabyte inbox quota policy was a headache for both end-users and the IT team.
“People had to constantly empty their inboxes,” Pettigrew said. “It drove them crazy.”
Hours of maintenance time, server downtime, crashes and corruption became part of a normal routine.
“We had some real issues with the web interface of Groupwise,” Pettigrew said. “We had this particular piece that would drop for no reason— and of course it chose to drop in the wee hours of the morning— and we’d have to come in and bring it back to life.”
Email filtering to ensure that credit card information, social security numbers and other patient information would not be shared also grew to be a major cost.
“The real expense of our legacy platform was our filtering system. The whole cost of the system was around 100 grand and it was about 10 to 15 grand every year to maintain and we had to upgrade every five or six years,” he said.
Pettigrew began to seek out other options that would allow Wyoming Medical Center to be on the cutting-edge of technology, to cut costs, improve email filtering and to collaborate more efficiently.
“My personal goal is to have our Information Systems department recognized beyond the boundaries of Wyoming for being proactive in the way our hospital uses technology,” he said. “But I really wanted to Go Google because of all the collaboration tools Google Apps offers.”
Recurring issues with Groupwise became a constant problem for Wyoming Medical Center’s IT team of 36.
“Groupwise just kept failing and we’d always have to come in and fix it,” Pettigrew said. “The joke amongst our team was that we should just outsource it to Google. One night, I just kind of sat back and thought, ‘I should actually look into that ‘cause it’s not a bad idea.’”
That night, Pettigrew submitted a request for information on both Google’s and Microsoft’s Office 365 sites.
“A couple of weeks later, Google called me back,” Pettigrew said. “I still haven’t heard from Microsoft!”
After speaking with Google about switching to Google Apps, Google referred Pettigrew to Cloud Sherpas to help Wyoming Medical Center complete the migration and outline factors for success.
“Once we had the phone call with Cloud Sherpas, I remember that me and my guys were just sitting there waiting for the catch,” Pettigrew said. “We thought, ‘man, this is just too good to be true.’ The affordable cost and the value of the product really opened our eyes. At that point, we were sold.”
Pettigrew said that though his IT team immediately knew that Going Google was the right move for Wyoming Medical Center, one of the major challenges was to convince the Administrative Council on the benefits of Google Apps.
During the council meeting, Pettigrew explained the cost-savings analysis to the group, giving a rough estimate of a $30,000 per year savings.
“That wasn’t even a very complete comparison because it was trying to do an apples-to-apples comparison when really it was an apples-to-oranges comparison,” he said. “I think we’re saving hundreds of thousands of dollars every year.”
As an example, Pettigrew noted that the cost to replicate the disk space provided by Google would cost six figures to reproduce locally.
Pettigrew also addressed concerns around cloud security.
“The peace of mind I get from Google far outweighs whatever risks we are taking by moving to the cloud,” Pettigrew said. “We are actually more secure with Google than with an on-premise system. If you’re going to have a pile of money, you can stick it under your mattress, which is what we were doing with Groupwise, or we can stick it in the bank, which is Google. Google is constantly improving.”
Cloud Sherpas then had the chance to present to the Administrative Council.
“Once Cloud Sherpas brought up the video chat, everyone’s eyes lit up,” Pettigrew said. “Though the Admin Council liked Google Apps, the tipping point was the video conferencing, because they came up with new and innovative ways we could use it to connect patients and doctors across the state.”
After Pettigrew received the go-ahead from the Administrative Council, he began to ask if anyone would like to be part of the beta pilot group and was surprised by the overwhelming enthusiasm he received.
“In the healthcare industry, people are typically slow to embrace change, but I didn’t hear any resistance to Google Apps,” he said.
The pilot users became Google Guides and helped lead the entire organization through a successful transition.
For additional change management, Cloud Sherpas provided a Google Training site, which could be accessed from Wyoming Medical Center’s intranet. Furthermore, Wyoming Medical Center began hosting Google Apps training sessions even before deployment.
During these sessions, employees were given an overview of Google Apps and asked if they would like to convert to the new system after the class. After the first day of classes, 50% of people who attended converted to Google Apps. During the following 150 classes, about 90% of attendees per class decided to convert.
After all of the classes were complete, about 716 people had already migrated themselves to Google Apps by manually forwarding their emails and appointments to their new Google addresses.
The remaining employees who had not attended classes or who had chosen not to migrate themselves were migrated during one weekend with minimal downtime.
Wyoming Medical Center continues to offer training classes to help users adjust and take advantage of the new platform.
Since migrating to Google Apps, Pettigrew finds that his team has more time to work on projects because they spend less time managing the server, fixing problems and resetting passwords. He said that his team now has more time to devote to innovating a create and safe environment for both clinicians and patients.
He also noted the significant benefits of Google Apps for end-users and even simply for people who interact with Wyoming Medical Center.
“We have begun conducting interviews over Google Video and are looking to use it in even bigger ways,” he said. “We would ultimately like to be able to connect doctors to patients across the state, and even across the country.”
During the coming months, Pettigrew said that he is looking to formally roll out Docs and Sites to further leverage Google Apps’ collaboration abilities.
“Docs and Sites is why we truly wanted to Go Google,” he said. “The staff is starting to learn that they’ve inherited a lot of really great tools, and I’m looking forward to rolling out the next phase.”
Extensive training helped Wyoming Medical Center to experience a smooth transition, but Pettigrew said that the migration to Google Apps would not have been as smooth without a technical team who truly believed in the product and with the help of Cloud Sherpas.
“I have to tell you that I’ve done hundreds of implementations on big projects and this was by far the easiest implementation we’ve ever done,” Pettigrew said. “I tell people that if they’re going to Go Google, go with the Sherpas because they are by far the best. There’s no one better.”
Read more about how Cloud Sherpas can help your company through a seamless Novell Groupwise to Google Apps migration.