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A few years back, ImageSoft trekked through the same IT journey we now walk most of our clients through: moving our infrastructure and systems to the Cloud. To quote Tom Hansel, ImageSoft’s Director of Customer Care and episode host, we’ve “eaten our own dog food,” so we fully understand the significance of the migration. On the same token, we also continuously see this investment pay off – most notably when launching ImageSoft’s entirely remote operations at the onset of the 2020 pandemic and easing staff through the shift.

Join our own Senior Business Systems Administrator Bill Lussenheide and Cloud Services OnBase Admin Mark Hamilton, the pioneers of ImageSoft’s Cloud Hosting journey, as they discuss our company’s transitional experience and all the intricacies in between, including how to plan for the move, what to expect from an administrator’s perspective, security and compliance concerns, end-user benefits, best practices and more.


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Steve:

Welcome to the Paperless Productivity podcast, where we have experts give you the insights, knowhow, and resources to help you transform your workplace from paper to digital while making your work life better at the same time.

Tom:

Hi everyone. Thanks for joining us. My name is Tom Hansel and I’ll be your host today. This podcast is going to be interesting and one I’m excited about since I’m responsible for ImageSoft to internal systems, as well as the teams who support the cloud infrastructure for our customers. So not only do we support the infrastructure for clients in a variety of verticals, but we actually leverage the same infrastructure for our employees and our internal systems as well. So we do eat our own dog food, so to speak. And we actually took the same journey of moving our infrastructure and systems to the cloud a few years back. It was a significant effort, but one of the best investments we’ve made and it really helped ease our employees and our culture into the idea of having a more remote workforce.

Tom:

So today I’m joined by two members of my team, Bill Lussenheide, who is responsible for ImageSoft, cloud services, and IT teams here at ImageSoft. And Mark Hamilton is a team lead on our cloud service team. We’re going to talk to them about some common questions we get about the cloud, best practices, experiences we’ve had with our customers over the last 20 years or so. So thanks for joining me, guys.

Mark:

Thank you.

Bill:

Thanks for having us.

Tom:

So Bill, I think I’ll start with you. Could you just tell us a little bit more about ImageSoft’s experience with the cloud?

Bill:

Absolutely. About five years ago, around 2015 or so, we decided to go full bore. We basically had a traditional stack model the idea being servers on premise or colo, just a lot of different management aspects, a lot of additional internal costs to administrate those systems, keeping patch, keep them updated, everything to that effect. And we found ourselves in an opportune position to jump full bore into the cloud. Idea being that we never wanted to buy another piece of server equipment again, and be able to operate in a more growing capacity, just reaching certain benchmarks that weren’t optimal at that time.

Bill:

So we began with transitioning traditional internal systems, things like Office 365, email chat, et cetera. And then we really put our hard focus on the server infrastructure. The idea being maintaining a five nines type of expectation for our infrastructure, things that as small, medium growing businesses sometimes can’t have that 24 seven type of operation. But the cloud was able to afford all of these value adds that we just could not match using our resources, our teams and even most cases, a lot of the technical expertise. So we went full bore into moving our entire infrastructure outside of traditional wifi access points and such. We maintained zero servers on prem. So we were able to then leverage a multibillion dollar platform versus maybe a multi hundred thousand dollar platform. So the scaling just was exceptional. Within basically about three months, we were able to move our entire infrastructure from our traditional sense into this cloud connected future-proofed platform.

Tom:

Okay. So that’s interesting. So when you migrate an on premise system to the cloud, what are some common questions or challenges that you might have?

Mark:

Yeah, I think one of the big things that is always on everybody’s mind that comes up first is cost. You know, people are kind of used to how they determine how much things are going to cost in a on premises world. They have cost centers and they know they have a data center and they do cap X to buy servers and that kind of stuff. But when they start talking about the cloud, it can be a very different pricing model when you start looking at the different public clouds that are out there. You pay for what you use, but you don’t know what you need going up front. You don’t know how much bandwidth you’re going to transfer and that kind of thing. And it all adds up and it can be very difficult to calculate upfront what you’re going to need.

Mark:

And that’s one of the things that we’ve really been able to help our customers with that we’ve migrated into the cloud is because we have that experience, we’ve done it before and we know we can really take the guesswork out of how much it’s going to cost and give them an upfront price. When we host it for them, we can tell them exactly what it’s going to cost upfront and that’s, I think, really helpful to them.

Mark:

The other, probably big thing is security. Everyone, once again, they’re familiar with how security works in their in house model, but when you’re talking about cloud hosting and they’re concerned about, “How do I secure it from the internet? How do I do that? What standards and how do I meet my standards and compliance needs?” Their security team is maybe used to doing things in house and they figured out how to check all the check boxes there. But when you move into the cloud, you need to make sure all those same compliances, or maybe even new compliances that are coming out every day that you need moving forward. So that’s a big question that always comes up.

Mark:

And finally, I think performance. People are worried that the system will not perform as well as when it was on prem. And that’s an area where we’ve been able to work with people and show our experience, how we’ve been able to make it work and perform well and also what those limitations that do exist are, and how we can make work for the customer. So, I think that those are probably the biggest things that really come up.

Tom:

Thanks, Mark. So, I’ve got a cost security and performance are three of the big questions or considerations. I am curious to hit a little bit more on security and compliance because that varies quite a bit, right? So can you speak a little more specifically about the security and compliance regulations and what considerations you need to make? Let’s say, CJIS for government or HIPAA for healthcare.

Bill:

Sure, this was something we had to pay a lot of attention of. We deal with multiple different types of clients, whether it be from healthcare to police agencies to prosecuting attorneys. We have a pretty large gambits. We had to focus and invest a lot of research and a lot of time into these particular compliance regulations. So the benefit of the cloud basically being that a lot of these are inherently built in from the ground up. Microsoft, in particular, they’re a multibillion dollar company for a reason, and they know their clientele very well. So the list of compliances that are inherently in every single solution that is in the cloud are baked in. CJIS , FedRAMP, HIPAA, Sox 2, SSEA16, N Plus, Seven, redundant architecture. Those items were a huge focus by the Azure team to ensure that they can match all these. They want to be the player in the game that you can go to from a government standpoint, from a private enterprise standpoint. All of those types of regulations just happen. They’re the very basis of every single system, every single application, every single piece of data.

Bill:

So the standards are just that when it comes to the cloud. So data encryption at rest has been a big, big topic as of late with things such as ransomware or basically data being taken hostage. That doesn’t occur in the cloud. A lot of the on-premise problems that you have to consider or even manually cover, just don’t happen in the cloud from the base.

Tom:

Great. So, one term you hear a lot of when you’re talking about cloud services is the shared responsibility model where, in our case, ImageSoft would have some responsibility over these systems and the customer would have another responsibility. But when you’re talking about the data within the system, who actually owns that data?

Mark:

So yeah, in the model that we have, the data belongs to you. So oftentimes when you’re talking about a software as a service type model, that can kind of get muddy because, well you maybe have the data and maybe the data technically belongs to the user, but it’s not any good without their service. So that’s a concern that if people are really paying attention and are concerned about. However, I think in our model, the way we’ve done it is the data belongs to you. The database belongs to you. And if you need that data, maybe you just want access to it to do reporting on that data, maybe you want to take that system, move it back on prem, maybe move it to a different cloud. That’s something that we can give you that OnBase database. We can give you the OnBase disk groups and you can take those and spin that system up somewhere else. So at every stage of the game, the data belongs to you and your organization and you’re able to get it if you need it.

Tom:

Cool. Cool. Thanks, Mark. So with the evolution of remote work, how does moving to the cloud help facilitate that trend?

Bill:

Sure, so we’ve identified several, several years ago that this was a big migration effort across the enterprise as a whole. You’ll see from the largest players down to the smallest mom and pop shops, the idea that work is ubiquitous. The idea that I need to be able to do work wherever I am with whatever I have, whether that be a mobile device, a laptop, or a full blown, super computer sitting in your den, basically. So the cloud allows best practices to be practiced through every connection. Every single different interaction that you have with the system are wrapped around security methods that allow you to feel secure at the end of the day with your transaction, your data, your systems, your business processes, all going to the cloud without being impinged by, you have to be in the office or you have to use this particular device. The cloud opens up those doors to allow you to do what you need when you need to do it.

Mark:

And I would just add onto that, that one of the strengths of this kind of setup that allows us to expose a lot of the different OnBase clients that maybe are more difficult to expose in an on prem system. So in addition to the what we have the web client, there’s an active X web client that will work from basically any browser, whether it’s Chrome or running on Safari on Mac. We have a mobile app client that you can do things from your phone, from iPads. So there’s a lot of options there as far as different clients and different devices that you can connect to that we’re able to really easily support by hosting the system in the cloud.

Tom:

Okay, thanks, Mark. So with that, then what can you tell me about integrations? I know a lot of our customers require integrating their ECM with a third party application, maybe it’s an ERP system, a CMS, ESRI whatever it might be.

Mark:

Yeah. One of the challenges that traditionally a lot of people have had trying to make this move is how do they integrate their existing on-prem systems with the systems that are in the cloud. And that’s a challenge that we experienced firsthand with our TrueFiling platform. Our TrueFiling platform integrates very heavily with OnBase for our customers. And so we had to build everything around, Hey, true filing exists in the cloud. We had to build everything around, supporting OnBase in the cloud and OnBase on prem and work for both. And we’ve been able to take that knowledge and we’ve been able to build systems to really support any kind of integration that you would need and sometimes we might have to find alternative ways to do it, but whether we’re talking about doing SFTP to send batch files, whether we’re talking about building API integrations, whether we’re talking about building a custom API, we’ve done that as well, or even portals and that kind of thing, to get that to allow that integration to happen.

Mark:

And of course, there’s all the OnBase modules that integrate. There’s OnBase modules that integrate with arc GIS, integrate with Epic, all sorts of different products. We’re able to support all of those modules in the cloud environment as well. So, really all those integration options that you would have with an on prem system are available. And we’ve been able to make them work for you and be flexible and find ways to get our customers those integrations and have them work.

Tom:

Okay. So you might help set up the integration and then it might be on the customer to kind of leverage that integration for whatever it might be, reporting or anything else. So where is that line drawn between the responsibilities that ImageSoft has versus what responsibilities would an organization have in supporting an application like OnBase if they were to move to ImageSoft’s cloud?

Bill:

We have multiple service offerings available to match your particular business needs at the end of the day. Idea being that if I just want to do a lift and ship type approach to move my OnBase system, but I want to take advantage of all the technical expertise that ImageSoft has available, there’s an option along those lines. There’s also options to engage our best practice team to host a cloud that is dedicated for your specific needs so typical maintenance, the nuts and bolts from patching, security, constant security awareness and prowess is all baked into solutions like that. We have several different models to match your requirement needs inside of ImageSoft hosted cloud.

Tom:

Okay. So would a customer have the ability to use OnBase just like they do today? For example, making configuration changes to the system, adding users, maybe building new work flows for a new department, things like that?

Mark:

Yeah, so a lot of customers, have OnBase admins in house and those admins are probably really excited about the prospect of like, “Oh, I don’t have to manage servers? Great.” But at the same time they still say, “Hey, how am I going to get in and add users? How am I going to go and get in and make workflows?” And we’ve developed the ability for people to do that. So we provide them access to studio. They have access to config. They have access to the client. They’re able to make all those changes and do all that administration, even though the systems are not on prem. So we were able to provide them access to all of that.

Tom:

All right, good. Well, it’s been an educational and fun session with Bill and Mark today to understand some of the intricacies of cloud hosting. We’ve touched on so many topics from security and compliance to planning for a move to the cloud, what to expect from an administration perspective, benefits for end users, some best practices. If you’d like to learn a little bit more about ImageSoft or our solutions for the cloud, go ahead and visit our website at imagesoftinc.com. This concludes today’s podcast and thanks for attending.

Steve:

Thanks again for joining us on this podcast. To learn more about ImageSoft, please visit imagesoftinc.com. That’s ImagesoftINC.com. If you haven’t already done so, be sure to subscribe to Paperless Productivity where we tackle some of the biggest paper-based pain points facing organizations today. We’ll see you next time.