Directory-as-a-Service Tactic Aids Medical Centers

By Samuel Greengard  |  Posted 2016-03-01 Email Print this article Print
Directory-as-a-service in the cloud

Nova Medical Centers, a provider of occupational medicine services, adopts a directory-as-a-service approach to improve business performance and security.

Over the last couple of decades, directory services have become a key consideration for businesses. Keeping an organization connected and ensuring secure log-ins and data access is at the center of today's business environment. But it can also become complex and unwieldy.

For Nova Medical Centers, which operates 48 occupational medicine offices in Georgia, Indiana, Tennessee and Texas and has about 600 employees, adopting a more sophisticated approach to directory services was paramount.

In the past, "One of the problems we faced with Active Directory is that we had to manage it in all the remote locations with a server or VPN, and we had no centralized system for managing user names and passwords," reports IT Director Christopher Southerland. "We constantly had issues with VPNs not connecting or the user name and password not syncing correctly."

That led to IT and support staff devoting time and effort to solving problems and assisting employees. In some cases, people couldn't log onto computers to do their work.

The company needed a new approach—one that offered both convenience and a high level of security. Moreover, senior executives requested that IT adopt a more affordable approach.

Creating a Streamlined Environment

After examining a number of solutions, Nova Medical Centers opted to take a cloud-based directory approach with JumpCloud, a provider of the first directory as a service. The company completed the migration and went live with the solution in July 2015.

"We have created a far more streamlined environment and have gained functionality," Southerland explains.

Centralized directory management has translated into a number of gains. In addition to simply being able to manage credentials better and in a more secure way through a centralized console, the company is now able to issue short-term credentials for temporary doctors and consultants. It also can manage hiring and termination processes better, and can avoid IT costs associated with an ad hoc approach.

"It eliminates spending thousands of dollars per server at every location to run Active Directory," he points out. What's more, the transition went relatively smoothly.

About 60 percent of employees now reset their own passwords without IT involvement. "Users love the ability to manage their user names and passwords," Southerland adds. "They have expressed the thinking that they feel more secure in the new environment."

In addition, the company can use the system to restart computer services and printing services remotely using Windows PowerShell commands. It also can lock screensavers and handle other administrative and security-related tasks.

"It's extremely convenient to have advanced systems management capabilities through a Website," he points out. "It has helped IT and the business take a big step forward."

Nova Medical Centers is now looking to expand its use of the cloud-based directory-as-a-service approach by incorporating mobile devices and adopting single sign-on. This will deliver greater flexibility for doctors and other professionals, and will help the company achieve even greater efficiencies and better security.

"We have a small IT staff, but we require powerful features and capabilities," Southerland concludes.

Samuel Greengard writes about business and technology for Baseline, CIO Insight and other publications. His most recent book is The Internet of Things (MIT Press, 2015).

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