the Grady Memorial
Hospital Corp. to run the
1,000-bed Grady Memorial
Hospital in Atlanta along
with several neighborhood
health centers and an ambulance service.
efforts quickly brought financial stability to Grady, allowing Cancilla and her team to
better tackle I T priorities.
Cancilla said she decided
to use a cloud-based email
system because the I T department lacked the in-house
expertise needed to run an
efficient system at a company
with more than 12,000
computer connections at its
various locations. The decision was made only after she
was convinced that the cloud
could meet Grady’s security
Grady ultimately chose Microsoft’s
Exchange Online email service from
among three options and began a six-month
implementation process last summer.
Cancilla wouldn’t say what the hospital
is paying per seat for Exchange Online,
but she did note that the overall annual
cost is a “fraction” of the $200,000 spent
running Group Wise. Moving to the cloud
also allowed Grady to avoid spending more
than $100,000 in one-time hardware
costs, she said.
“We clearly are saving every day because we don’t have the
expenses associated with our old instability,” she added.
Since the system was installed more than six months ago,
there’s been one relatively brief service disruption.
Rob Enderle, an analyst at Enderle Group, said the hospital
made a smart move by migrating from an old email product to a
cloud-based system. “There are comparatively few folks trained
on Group Wise, which likely contributed to [Grady’s] issues with
it,” he said. “Migrating email systems is a nightmare. Products in
this class are natural for cloud services.”
But Dan Olds, an analyst at Gabriel
Consulting Group, questioned whether a
cloud-based system is best for a large health-
care provider. “I’m not wild about important
organizations like healthcare firms moving
wholesale to the cloud,” he said.
“Health records are highly sensitive,”
Olds added. “If they’re exposed or lost or
damaged, it’s not only a very bad thing for
the organization’s reputation, it could also
open them up to regulatory fines and
other sanctions.” u
Cloud Cures Hospital’s
Ailing Email System
After years of almost weekly email system disruptions,
Grady Health finds stability in the cloud. By Sharon Gaudin
WHEN DEBBIE CANCILLA took charge of the I T operation at Grady Health System, which oper- ates one of the largest public hospitals in the U. S., she inherited an email system that had become a nightmare for doctors, nurses and administrators.
Most companies or organizations experience occasional email
downtime. Grady’s aging Novell Group Wise email system was
averaging an outage per week.
At the time, in 2008, Grady was facing severe budget problems,
and the organization’s beleaguered I T team didn’t have the time or
materials needed to fully fix an email system
that cost some $200,000 annually to operate,
said Cancilla, CIO and senior vice president.
“For almost 10 years, this organization had
no funding, so they had learned to live with
what they had,” she said. “The servers weren’t
stable. The filters weren’t working correctly.
We had configuration problems. We had
constant downtime. We didn’t have the depth
The healthcare firm was saved that year
when state and community leaders created
this organization had
no funding, so they
had learned to live
with what they had.
DEBBIE CANCILLA, CIO,
GRADY HEALTH SYSTEMS