Wyoming hospital takes leap to the cloud for email
Wyoming Medical Center (WMC), a 100-year-old hospital in Casper, Wyo., has dumped its frustratingly limited in-house legacy email system for Google’s cloud-based system. WMC officials say the new Google system has saved the hospital money and trouble, and they don’t have concerns about privacy.
Last August, the 207-bed WMC completed the transition of its entire organization from Novell Groupwise to Google Apps – Google’s email system for businesses and organizations, says Tom Schoenig, the CIO at WMC. The hospital was one of the first three healthcare systems and the first hospital in the country to adopt Google Apps for its email. The decision came after a number of years with constant server breakdowns during the middle of the night and too little email capacity for providers, he says. In addition, Web access to the in-house server was touchy.
“With the Novell system, even with upgrades, our Web piece was unstable at best,” says Rob Pettigrew, WMC’s network manager. “It was the thorn in our side. We couldn’t figure out why it kept crashing.”
Pettigrew said it was a running joke in the hospital’s tech department: “Why don’t we just get Google to handle this email?” So one day, out of sheer frustration, they called Google. And it turns out, Google could do just that.
“Once we made the decision it would be best to switch to Google Apps, all of us had to convince our administration, he says. "It wasn’t a straight apples to apples comparison on cost, because the Novell system and Google Apps can’t compare. The real savings came in the enormity of the email space Google could give us. Groupwise gave us 200 MB of space per user. Users at the hospital were constantly complaining that their mailboxes were full.
Google gave us 25 GB per user. “We couldn’t give that to our users with hundreds of thousands of in-house servers,” says Pettigrew.
Of course, the hospital administration was concerned with security on the Google cloud system, Pettigrew says, but "we explained to them. A four-man hospital IT team can’t beat what an entire company like Google can do on security. Google handles safety and is always concerned and always upgrading its safety measures. This all happens in the background."
The hospital hired an Atlanta-based company called Cloud Sherpas to help transition to Google email, making it seamless and painless, according to Pettigrew. Cloud Sherpas is Google’s top implementation partner.