We’ve started down a path to radically change the way we build software at Geonetric. The journey started, as these things so often do, with an innocent conversation.
The conversation explored how we can get valuable new software capabilities into clients’ hands more quickly. Our primary software platform, VitalSite, is a fairly traditional web application. Each instance of the software is installed on a server at our data center or, in a few cases, in our clients’ data centers.
We’ve made great strides in simplifying how we deploy the tool after each update. We run thousands of automated tests to ensure everything works properly, and we’ve automated deployment tools to simplify what was once a very manual process. Along the way, we’ve all but eliminated upgrade-related issues, radically reduced downtime and removed the possibility of human error on a deploy-by-deploy basis.
All of this work has been fabulous and, in a recent client satisfaction survey, our hosting services received the highest client satisfaction of any area of the company!
Still, with more than 100 production installations of the VitalSite platform, rolling out an update to all of our clients involves dozens of hours of work. As our agile software practice continues to evolve, we release new valuable capabilities very frequently. In fact, we released 29 updates in 2014 alone!
The result was delays in getting all clients new versions. In addition, the work involved raised costs for everyone.
We realized through our conversation that we’ve optimized this process about as well as is possible for a traditional installed software product. To continue to advance, we’ll need to move to a new architecture.
Our new Form Builder tool, currently in Beta, is our first new toolset running in a multi-tenant environment. Multi-tenant software has become a common route for new software solutions but is still rarely used and is often misunderstood within healthcare.
In a multi-tenant application, one instance of the software is running for all of the individuals and organizations using the tool. This has a number of advantages:
- One update applies to everyone – The entire process of releasing and deploying an update is done only once and every organization gains the value of new functionality and other upgrades right away.
- Lower costs for infrastructure and support – Multi-tenant applications utilize hardware and software resources more efficiently than separate installs on individual servers, even in virtual server environments.
- Scalability – The multi-tenant system is designed to run for many organizations concurrently, so a temporary spike in traffic or activity from one organization is generally taken in stride.
In other words – multi-tenant applications are faster, cheaper and better!
Geonetric’s Form Builder is our first step into this new approach to software, but it’s unlikely to be our last.
For more information about Form Builder, the online conversion tool that works with any CMS platform, read our recent blog post, and sign up below to join the Beta program when it opens up.