Arkansas Health System Takes a Journey to the Cloud

Bob Kent and Lori McCauley

An in-depth planning process provided the foundation for Arkansas Children’s Hospital to migrate its communications infrastructure to the cloud.  “If you’re thinking about this step, you need to start planning now,” said Lori McCauley, director of unified communications, at an Avaya ENGAGE 2020 session, “Journey Mapping to the Cloud.” 

McCauley outlined the process of moving the hospital system’s unified communications and customer experience platform to the cloud.  “We are a legacy Nortel organization, but the runway is ending for the CS 1000,” she said. “Making that transition is not easy,” she added. “It takes research, discovery, documentation, consultation and execution.”

Bob Kent, director of solution architects, ConvergeOne, also discussed the migration process and offered advice for other organizations.  “Somewhere in your life you will have cloud,” he said.  “Because there are lots of options for your cloud infrastructure, you need to look at your workflows, your culture and your intellectual property. The could needs to adopt to you and support customization for your organization.”

To be successful your cloud deployment should be designed to facilitate internal and external workforce collaboration and allow your organization to be as competitive and efficient as possible, added Kent. “It’s important to understand the steps you have to take on the  journey.”

McCauley and Kent have several suggestions to start the process:

  • Prepare a baseline of your current infrastructure. “As you go to the cloud, the more details you understand about your current environment, the more you will be successful,” said Kent.
  • Review your organization’s strategic plan for the next three-plus years. For Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the migration journey was an important step in its growth from a standalone facility to a health system. “Our goal is to deliver excellent care for kids live without them having to travel long distances,” she said.
  • Consider your organization’s preferred consumption model: capex, opex or subscription?
  • Look at the options for your data center, including keeping it on prem or moving to the cloud.  It’s important to understand where confidential customer, patient or employee data will be stored.
  • Consider your security requirements. “One organization wanted to put individuals’ full social security numbers in a cloud database,” said Kent. “That’s really not a good practice.”
  • Are you using SIP trunks? “SIP trunks are the core foundation and you need a customer-owned session border controller (SBC) to make your security team happy,” said McCauley.
  • Remember that voice is still a critical channel, especially in healthcare. “During the planning, we realized we needed to create 13 SIP connections to 13 products that needed access to voice,” said McCauley.
  • Think about legacy applications like fax or paging.

Both McCauley and Kent emphasized the importance of walking C-level executives through the technology options and getting their buy-ins during the planning stage.  “It’s better to have those conversations with senior management at an early stage rather than wait until you’ve started down a path,” said McCauley.

If your organization has a digital marketing group, that team should be part of the planning process as well, said McCauley. “That input can really help you build a digital front door to your organization,” she added.

There are other technology and business issues to consider in making a migration to the cloud.  “Remember that your UC and customer experience platforms are not islands,” said Kent. “If your data center moves to the cloud, it must connect with critical applications like Salesforce, your CRM, ERP and active directory. Again, think about these issues in advance rather than after beginning a deployment.”

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