Pharmaceutical software company faces strict deadline to deliver new, compliant IT infrastructure

Pharmaceutical manufacturers rely on AssistRx’s cutting-edge software solutions to navigate a heavily-regulated, diverse healthcare ecosystem and to securely, accurately and quickly deliver specialty drugs into physicians’ hands for patient treatment. AssistRx’s business growth plans, accompanied by industry demands and customer expectations, were straining the technology systems the company developed and implemented during its early years. Like many new ventures, after a few years AssistRx needed different talents, management experience and supporting IT systems in order to transition from start-up to enterprise mode.

Lawrence Brown joined AssistRx as the vice president of IT in early 2014, and inherited an infrastructure split between colocation at one vendor’s facility and cloud services at another. Issues of platform standardization, security, performance, compliance, inflexibility and aging technology all had to be addressed. Not finding much support from current vendors, Brown created a plan that called for centralizing new production systems into a colocation facility and re-architecting everything from a LAMP, an archetypal model of web service solution stacks, to Microsoft.

Then the opportunity to win the largest pharmaceutical-company customer in AssistRx’s history called for a change of plan. The deal hinged on the company’s ability to provide a new infrastructure, demonstrate regulatory compliance, ensure data security and protection — and do it in 60 days. Brown believed a cloud approach was the answer to winning this important business and taking AssistRx to its next level of growth.

Flexential and the incumbent were among the several cloud service providers contacted for proposals. Besides the accelerated timetable, the challenge included migrating delicate legacy production systems to a new robust infrastructure with the attendant security, control, HIPAA compliance and performance necessary to meet contractual milestones.

Flexential mobilizes team of professional service providers to efficiently migrate workloads to HIPAA-compliant cloud

AssistRx selected Flexential due to its hands-on style, comprehensive security and compliance capabilities, world-class infrastructure and consultative approach to customer service. In order to meet the 2014 year-end deadline, Flexential needed to migrate legacy production workloads, which were on multiple configurations of operating systems and LAMP tools, and place a security blanket on top of them. Re-architecting to a Microsoft platform would be addressed later. What AssistRx received was much more.

“When we told management what we planned to do and how much money it would save us, they were skeptical,” said Brown. “They didn’t see how so much could be accomplished in such a short time.”

Flexential proposed a VMware cluster in a virtual private cloud provisioned on a standardized, technologically current platform and subject to a change-management process. Flexential technology partner SilverSky, now BAE Systems, handled the security aspects. Another partner with advanced Linux skills, Apparatus, managed the migration of mission-critical workloads, which would sit on top of this highly secure infrastructure. With this implementation AssistRx could migrate 150 servers over to a HIPAA-compliant infrastructure.

“The Flexential team brought together the resources we needed to get this done, and that was a key differentiator,” said Brown. “They also arranged for a third-party assessment to document that the Flexential cloud infrastructure was HIPAA compliant, which was essential to winning the new account. Instead of 60 days, we completed this much more aggressive plan in just 45 days, well ahead of schedule, which impressed our customer as well as our company leadership.”

Consolidated IT environment reduces costs and elevates security, compliance and scalability to earn excellent bill of health

Nothing matters more to AssistRx than getting specialty medications into the hands of the people who need them most — the patients — as quickly as possible. Technology is the key means by which it succeeds. Doing that better than anyone else is how the company prospers.

Prior to making the decision to centralize all applications in one colocation site and manage it themselves, AssistRx was paying for data center services with one provider, cloud services with another and had hired a managed services consultant to help manage the technology relationships with its providers. By centralizing and standardizing operations on its own, the company would have had to make significant capital expenditures in systems, enterprise-class redundancy and, most importantly, advanced security systems and technology; security appliances alone would have cost approximately $300,000.

The move to Flexential eliminated the need for major capital investments. Allowing Flexential to handle all IT operations in one of its Charlotte, N.C. data centers, including security, networking, storage, backup and disaster recovery, reduced the company’s costs by 25 to 30% compared to prior services expenditures. Furthermore, the company now had the systems and infrastructure to scale operations and grow as it needed. “We don’t need to worry. We’re better off with Flexential,” said Brown.

Compared to before, performance and reliability have improved, according to Brown. End users get more stable, scalable and secure technology systems. The standardized platform allows new servers to be spun up quickly in a high-integrity and compliant environment.

Not only did AssistRx meet its commitments to its new customer, it set itself up to meet demanding requirements of all its customers, current and future, as well as its own healthcare industry future.