By Sramana Mitra and guest author Shaloo Shalini
SM: Let’s talk about where Schumacher Group is in terms of cloud deployment. What is your philosophy as a CIO, when you think through cloud computing, and what is the status of your organization in terms of cloud computing adoption?
DM: Schumacher Group has been an early adopter of cloud computing. We have been using cloud services for well over five years now, long before the term cloud itself existed. It was more of an application service provider (ASP) – kind of software services [approach] at that time. Fortunately, 80%–90% of our processes live inside the cloud. I still run two multimillion-dollar data centers internally. On the integration front, we have a strong hybrid approach for connecting cloud-based solutions with our on-premise solutions. We are in a full-blown cloud environment. Just to give you an example of what we run out there, we have Salesforce.com, which is a staple solution for most organizations today. But we do more work inside of Force.com. We have more than 90 custom objects and over 350 workflows that are built using Salesforce.com as a platform. We have these integrated with our Workday environment. We have the core human capital management (HCM) module, the manager self-service and employee self-service modules, and benefits and payroll all being done through Workday environment.
We use Eloqua for e-mail marketing and Apptus, which is a native application on top of Salesforce.com, for contract management. Our Peoplesoft setup is in a hosted managed care environment. For cloud security, we use single sign-on with Symplified and PingIdentity. Our scheduling application for physicians is a more niche product called Tangiere by a company PeakSoftware. The budgeting and forecasting solution that we recently brought on is called HostAnalytics, and we were able to bring that into our environment within two to three weeks.
SM: In addition to some of these solutions that you deploy, such as Salesforce, Workday, and others that you just mentioned, do you have custom applications developed on extensions or developed on top of these applications for your integration needs?
DM: No. The ones that I mentioned earlier are definitely pure-play SaaS models. However, the custom solutions that we have put in place are really about integration. The custom solutions deal with moving data in and out of these applications through Web services and APIs. This is where we see ourselves as differentiators of how we are using cloud-based solutions. Most people bring up a SaaS model, and it just sits there and is its own solution to maybe a department within an enterprise. Our approach is such that we have our SaaS solution as a primary record source, and then we integrate that with other cloud-based solutions and our on-premise solutions. We use Cast Iron and Boomi for our integration services.
SM: Very interesting! It appears that we have a lot to talk about based on what you have just shared with us.
DM: Yes, when I speak at conferences I am usually the poster child for the definitions of the insanity of the cloud services!
SM: Well, perfect, those are the kind of people we want to talk to!
DM: Very good.
SM: Within you Salesforce.com environment, how many custom applications have you deployed?
DM: We have custom objects which are a component of an application. We have more than 90 custom objects and 350 workflows.
SM: Can you describe what kinds of use cases and what kinds of objects you are talking about?
DM: We have built our custom workflows and custom solutions around our recruiting domain, around what are called provider enrollment credentialing processes. These are pre-credentialing processes. We have built our own IT services and support modules within this space. Another use case that we have is project portfolio management. That is integrated with our enterprise data warehouse, which feeds on data from Salesforce.com. From our enterprise data warehouse, the processed data moves to the components for reporting. Later, it gets populated back into accounts inside of our Salesforce.com environment.