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Software Development and Delivery at Scale

Healthcare - Americas

Business Overview

Business Focus
Healthcare
Based in the United States
Business Case
This developer of surgical intelligence and automation technologies has a goal to make surgery smarter, safer, and more profitable.
Container Platforms
Docker and Kubernetes on AWS.
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Business Overview

This developer of surgical intelligence and automation technologies has a goal to make surgery smarter, safer, and more profitable.

The vendor-agnostic surgical technology platform enables care providers the ability to capture new insights from video and harness new and existing healthcare data across their enterprise by streamlining workflows, improve care delivery, and enhancing patient outcomes – in and around the operating room (OR).

Timely, predictive insights enable surgeons and their teams to benchmark and improve their care, hospital administrators to use time and surgical resources more efficiently, and their partners to grow surgical revenues and market share under both value-based and traditional care models.

Addressing the Challenge

A new initiative was started to transform the surgical technology platform from desktop to the cloud. In the old environment, each client had to be installed and set up, one at a time. Enhancements – one at a time. Software corrective patches – one at a time. When you multiple the number of ORs installed by 500 you start to realize the scope of the scale problem.

The model of one-at-a-time physical installations was operationally very expensive. Margins were suffering because the installations were so labor intensive. A new manager of software development was hired to create a cloud native application. The decision was made to deliver the new software via containers leveraging both Docker and Kubernetes containerized solutions.

Containers were more efficient but didn’t address every business issue. There were still issues of being able to triage problems when the ten-person development team (7 developers and 3 QA) ran into roadblocks. To solve this problem the new Manager of Software Engineering, purchased Portainer.

“Life prior to Portainer, I was doing all of the triage “unblocking” of our software engineers. Now, if an engineer tries something out and it doesn’t work on Portainer, he can’t push it out. Portainer forces our developers to unblock and be self-organized. This means all eight of us can triage a problem – not just me.”

The Solution

Application logs in Portainer are used by the DevOps team to triage applications running at the edge and in the data center. Deployment times have improved because the development team is able to deliver additional stories during every software sprint. The dev-team is running two-week sprints. The goal is to code 13 stories per sprint. Matt’s coders deployment times have been enhanced 10-15% as measured by the 2 additional stories they are able to deliver every two weeks. Given the developer and QA pay with benefits is on average $170,000 per year the additional productivity is a significant $170,000 = $170,000 (pay with benefits) x 10 (7 developers and 3 QA) x 10% (lower level of the estimated enhancement).

The ability to scale is an even more important critical business issue. The new AWS cloud solution with containerized software managed by Portainer will reduce the cost to deploy new software and support existing field applications increasing profit from revenue by an estimated 30-40%. Portainer is only one piece of the solution required to deliver on this new capability. But, it’s an important component.

Blackrock, one of the investors was particularly interested in Portainer’s ability to address the scale problem. The present older desktop solution, which is being replaced by the new AWS containerized solution is currently 90% of the annual revenue.

Each desktop version was sold for an average of $70,000. But the margins in the 500 ORs currently installed were low because an installation expert had to be on site for each installation. The manager of software development estimates the new application will improve margins by 30-40%. The estimated enhancement to profit from revenue is $10,500,000 = ($70,000 (average annual software subscription) x 500 (the next 500 installations) x 30% (lower level of enhanced operating margin range).

The Results

We don’t want to overstate Portainer’s future contribution, but we would like to claim a small slice of credit because as the engineering manager says,

“We are better able to scale because Portainer has secure push-button to deploy capability streamlining version control and maintenance. And because tomorrow when the new application is running live in every OR; We can remotely monitor our software because Portainer goes from green to red on the dashboard. This might sound simple and inconsequential but it’s not. We’ll know immediately if an OR isn’t able to run our application and we can immediately respond before a doctor arrives to perform surgery.”

Time to market is huge. They want the next 500 installations to be deployed with the 30-40% margin enhancing new version of the software. One of the ways to help that happen is by reducing the time to productivity of each new software developer they hire.

They estimate it would have taken six months to get their 7-person development team to become proficient with Docker and Kubernetes. The learning curve was steep.

Due to Portainer, the development team was able to achieve everything they needed, without having to learn a single Kubectl command. This was very important for a team with zero Kubernetes experience.

“Skilled talent would normally take 6 months to ramp to the necessary Docker and K8s skill level. With Portainer it really shortened time to productivity down to weeks. Just the ability to see if it’s actually running is an important immediate feedback loop that shortens the learning curve. Our next dev guy in the door is going to cost us over $200k, so quick time to productivity is critical, particularly when we are a startup!”

Time to productivity is important in every development organization. With the average cost of a software developer around $170,000 with benefits (even when reduced by outsourced developers for instance), time to productivity is particularly important. The next developer they hire will have a one-time benefit of enhanced time to productivity of $70,833 = ($170,000) / (12 months in the year) x 5 (shorter time to productivity).

In a world where development teams often run at a deficit, the cloud transformation was completed ahead of schedule due in part to Portainer efficiencies. Reflecting on the project,

“Portainer was a singular tools that gave us the full gambit of container management functionality. Docker plus Kubernetes, log viewer, access control, edge agent. Learning one tool meant we could move quickly, without learning and updating multiple products.”

Quotes from the Team

"Skilled talent is an issue for us because it takes 6 months to ramp to the necessary Docker and K8s skill level. With Portainer it really shortened the time to productive down to weeks."

"We can remotely monitor our software because Portainer goes from green to red on the dashboard. This might sound simple and inconsequential but it’s not. We can immediately respond before a doctor arrives to perform surgery.”

“We are better able to scale because Portainer has secure push-button to deploy capability streamlining version control and maintenance."

"Life prior to Portainer, I was doing all the triage “unblocking” of our software engineers. Now, if an engineer tries something out and it doesn’t work on Portainer, he can’t push it out. Portainer forces our developers to unblock and be self-organized. This means all eight of us can triage a problem – not just me."

"We looked for a solution like Portainer because remotely managing software updates is a nightmare. We were using Docker but wanted to make it more efficient and securitize it."

"We are easily 10-15% more productive because we are able to get an additional 2 stories done per two-week sprint, make it more efficient and securitize it."

Key Metrics

$10.5M increase in profits
$10.5M increase in profits

$10,500,000 estimated enhancement to profit from revenue ($70,000 average annual software subscription x 500 installations x 30% enhanced operating margin)

$170K worth of productivity savings
$170K worth of productivity savings

$170,000 per year in additional productivity for 7 developers and 3 QA ($170,000 pay with benefits x 10 resources x 10% enhancement)

5 month time to productivity reduction
5 month time to productivity reduction

$70,833 productivity enhancement for the next developer hired ($170,000 / 12 months in the year x 5 months shorter time to productivity)

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