H. D. Smith Gains as-a-Service Agility with Hybrid Cloud
Client:H. D. Smith
- Increase business agility, improve service
- Meet demands for applications and support
- Modernize the IT infrastructure with the cloud
- Migration to on-premises private and public clouds
- CSC data center, hybrid cloud services, CSC Agility platform
- CSC application management services for support
- Reduced IT capital costs by 20 percent
- Improved time to market
- Enhanced system reliability and redundancy
A growing number of IT organizations are using public cloud, private cloud and as-a-service offerings that include software, storage, platform and infrastructure. Many CIOs find that combining these related technologies into a hybrid cloud is the most effective way to harness their benefits.
That’s a key component of a new strategy at H.D. Smith, one of the largest U.S. wholesalers of services and solutions for the healthcare industry. Founded in 1954, H.D. Smith distributes products that include pharmaceuticals, health supplies and medical equipment to pharmacies, alternate-care facilities and institutions. The privately held Springfield, Ill.-based company, which operates distribution facilities throughout the United States, is in the midst of a dramatic transformation of both business and IT.
“We’re migrating from being a consumer of the as-a-service model to being a provider,” explains David Guzmán, the company’s chief information officer (CIO). “We understood that we had to build a world-class infrastructure to support our strategy.”
Making waves with cloud
Guzmán joined H.D. Smith as CIO in 2011 and quickly brought in CSC to help move the company to the enterprise cloud.
The first phase involved migrating H. D. Smith’s data center to the cloud. Earlier, Guzmán had explored the possibility of building a new data center, but he found the projected cost to be prohibitively high. He also realized that H. D. Smith needed a partner to transform the IT group into a unit that would generate revenue. With CSC’s help, H. D. Smith moved its data center and selected systems (including email, ordering and e-commerce) to the cloud.
Next, CSC’s Hybrid Cloud Management services helped the company move its production environment — applications, hardware and software platforms — to the cloud. That phase, now completed, involved implementing Software as a Service, Platform as a Service (in the form of Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform), and the CSC Agility Platform. The latter, Guzmán explains, lets H. D. Smith “manage, provision and invoice a set of services consistently from one place.”
Today, H. D. Smith is building the solutions, business services and applications that will allow the company to transform itself into a services provider. The company’s partnership with CSC has also been elevated to provide management and support for servicing these new applications.
Gaining big benefits
As H. D. Smith modernizes its infrastructure, the benefits are piling up nicely. One big benefit has been lower costs. Guzmán has reduced the company’s capital costs by 20 percent, mainly because the cloud’s pay-as-you-go fee structure frees him from having to buy computing hardware. Many companies allocate IT hardware for peak periods, meaning some systems sit idle during nonpeak times. With H. D. Smith’s data center in the cloud, that’s no longer Guzmán’s problem.
Another benefit: With the cloud, H. D. Smith is able to move faster, dramatically improving its time to market. “That’s the all-important reason for migrating our workload,” Guzmán says. “Instead of our staff focusing their attention on the grungy, grimy walls of technology, we really are focusing our attention on our business, our strategy and delivering to our customers.”
Greater staff flexibility has been another gain. By moving most of his company’s IT to the cloud, Guzmán has created what he calls “a consistent platform in which to manage these hybrid cloud solutions across the spectrum.” As a result, H. D. Smith’s IT team can more easily implement new applications for the business.
Still another benefit: Security and reliability are both high-level and affordable. To ensure 24x7 operations, CSC runs H. D. Smith’s systems from two data centers located on opposite sides of the country, thus providing redundant, fail-safe operations. “These environments are truly world-class,” Guzmán says. “It would have been very difficult for us to make that level of investment to have an equivalent set of facilities.”
Planning for a transformed future
In Guzmán’s ambitious vision, the next phase will involve a transformation of H. D. Smith into an entity capable of not just operating more efficiently, but actually controlling national healthcare costs and improving patient outcomes.
One focus area for this next wave will be analytics, so H. D. Smith can offer information services that bring value to customers. Toward this end, CSC recently launched two projects to identify and segment the types of information services that will best suit H.D. Smith’s pharmacy customers.
Another new project involves H. D. Smith’s reimplementation of its SAP enterprise applications. SAP, a major software vendor, has been a supplier to H. D. Smith for many years, building up what Guzmán describes as “a legacy of trust.” Now the plan is for H. D. Smith to remain with SAP, but to have CSC manage SAP software, ongoing maintenance and upgrades. That way, Guzmán explains, “We get to shift our staff from working on support to working on the more strategic initiatives of the company.”
CSC’s ability to offer these kinds of ample resources and expertise was among the main reasons Guzmán engaged CSC in the first place. Now, as H. D. Smith launches its strategic transformation, the pairing is more important than ever. “CSC,” Guzmán says, “has been a proven partner for us that has delivered at every stage of our evolution.”