Jun 18 2024

What Is CDW’s SAMA, and How Can It Help Healthcare Organizations?

To reach their digital transformation goals, health IT leaders must review their application portfolio and update software fast and affordably. A new assessment from CDW can help.

Modernizing and optimizing applications can create a major impact on workflow efficiencies throughout a healthcare organization. However, the process requires time, money and resources that some organizations may not have, leaving technology and clinical teams operating in an IT landscape complicated by technical debt.

According to a 2023 report from the IBM Institute for Business Value, 83 percent of North American IT executives say modernizing applications and data is central to the business strategy of their organizations. Despite that, only 27 percent say their organization has modernized many of its workflows.

Application modernization offers many benefits: It can boost annual revenue, lower application maintenance costs and improve operational efficiency, reduce resource costs and increase year-over-year savings on infrastructure, according to the IBM report.

Health systems should begin application modernization with an assessment of their application infrastructure and portfolio. Fortunately, healthcare organizations do not have to handle this process on their own. Technology partners with application modernization experience can support healthcare organizations through an assessment more quickly and efficiently than an organization could do on its own. An assessment, especially if it’s automated, can significantly speed up an organization’s application modernization initiatives, says Greg Peters, founder for the Strategic Application Modernization Assessment (SAMA) at CDW.

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How to Conduct a Unique Application Modernization Assessment

It’s critical that healthcare organizations conduct a holistic assessment, one that looks not only at the technology but also at whether the organization has the staffing and resources to maintain certain applications, Peters explains.

SAMA is designed to approach the modernization process by breaking down silos between different elements of an organization, including developers, security teams, network engineers and others.

How does it work? SAMA essentially monitors an organization’s entire application portfolio and then identifies which items are prime for modernization tasks — and it’s all done as an automated process so IT leaders can get a macro-level view into their software updates, fast and affordably.

Peters, the principal developer of SAMA, compares the process to improving a car’s design, an undertaking that requires conversations with specialists in engines, electrical systems, braking systems and so on. SAMA’s approach to application assessment is similar, involving the gathering of knowledge from relevant specialists through built-in security scanning, custom reporting and analytical tools. This speeds the assessment process by preventing the need for separate initial conversations with every team.

“We want to look at the portfolio instead of just one little piece of the puzzle,” Peters says.

The process begins with CDW engineers installing and configuring a virtual machine to run the SAMA tool in an organization’s environment. SAMA then gathers data from the organization’s code repositories, covering more than 40 languages as well as applications on mainframes or in the cloud. All of this work is done on-premises for the organization, never remotely. SAMA then looks for tasks that have been completed around modernization by monitoring changes made in the application portfolio.

App Mod TOC


Assessments Can Accelerate the Application Modernization Process

Peters says that a typical manual assessment of a healthcare organization’s codebase can take roughly 12 to 18 months to complete. However, with SAMA, IT leaders can get an automated assessment in just two to three weeks, depending on the portfolio size.

SAMA scans applications’ metadata and source code only and does not scan databases or agents on the organization’s networks. The assessment gathers data, determines whether applications can run in the cloud and detects anomalies in code. It also evaluates the security level of each application.

Following the assessment, SAMA produces two automated reports. One has assessments of every application’s suitability for modernization. The other is an executive summary that has a heat map of the complexity of the portfolio, assessments on the personnel needed to support the applications and other high-level findings.

This essentially gives IT leaders the “keys to the kingdom.” They can query all of the data the assessment produced and get guidance on how to prioritize their modernization initiatives, based on their organization’s goals and mission objectives, Peters says.

After the assessment, organizations typically decide to modernize about 8 to 10 percent of their application portfolio, Peters says. Typically, CDW recommends IT teams prioritize either applications with major infrastructure or security issues, or applications that are relatively easy to modernize.

RELATED: How can application rationalization tools ease your journey to the cloud?

Healthcare Organization’s Should Assess Their Application Readiness

There are many benefits to using the SAMA approach to application modernization. For one, it helps IT leaders “get the information needed to make the decision faster than they could before,” Peters says.

The assessment can also provide a benchmark as IT leaders achieve more of their digital transformation goals. “Our clients continue using SAMA to monitor changes in their application portfolio as they modernize” Peters says.

Ultimately, SAMA can save healthcare organizations significant costs, Peters says: “Instead of spending millions and millions of dollars on manual analysis, they can use that money for actual modernization. That’s the massive benefit they get from this process.”

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