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Move to cloud computing lifts SoulCycle, Middlesex Health productivity

At the recent MIT Sloan CIO Symposium, fitness company SoulCycle and Middlesex Health recount how cloud has become a workforce enabler.

At SoulCycle, the move to cloud computing is as much a cultural statement for the fitness company as a workplace enabler.

"We just don't do boring stuff. That's part of our brand," said Michael Urcinoli, vice president of IT.

To serve its 2,500 employees and the customers who frequent its 90-plus studios in the United States, Canada and the U.K., SoulCycle turned to Google, deploying Google Chrome Pixelbooks in its studios and using the Google Cloud to run its applications. It's now deploying Google to its corporate offices in New York City and Los Angeles.

Not lift-and-shift

Urcolini discussed SoulCycle's move to cloud computing at the MIT CIO Symposium on May 22. He was joined on stage by Michael Romatzick, desktop architect at the Connecticut-based healthcare system Middlesex Health. The session was moderated by John Solomon, vice president of ChromeOS at Google, who spoke earlier about how CIOs need to enable a whole new class of cloud workers.

Urcinoli said the move to cloud computing, coupled with the company's adoption of Pixelbooks and standardizing on the Google browser, changed how its workers do their job. Instead of spending their time manually entering data, such as keying in rider information or managing wait lists, they are engaging more directly with the customers.

Similarly, the Google deployment allows the technology to spend its time focused on developing applications that differentiate the company rather than on managing commodity infrastructure, Urcinoli said. Indeed, technology is integral to the company's long-term business strategy.

However, SoulCycle's move to cloud wasn't a lift-and-shift operation.

Michael Urcinoli, vice president of IT, SoulCycle Michael Urcinoli

Urcinoli said his technology team members worked with their business colleagues to better understand their workflows.

"We went through all our processes, observing and challenging how and why things are done in a certain way," he said, noting that the exercise yielded multiple business process improvements.

"We're modernizing business processes by moving away from desktop applications and moving more toward cloud-enabled browser-based processes," Urcinoli said, noting that the move also enables employees to work from anywhere easily and seamlessly. "And that impacts bottom and top line as well as your employee experience."

Moreover, Urcinoli said modernizing business processes enabled IT to simplify infrastructure, streamline its vendors and reduce IT overhead. That in turn helps the company be more capable in securing the organization, better prepared to capitalize on future technology innovations and more capable of finding opportunities to use technology to better engage consumers.

Cloud delivers productivity, security gains for healthcare system

Michael Romatzick, desktop architect, Middlesex HealthMichael Romatzick

Middlesex Health saw similar transformations in its move to cloud computing, Romatzick said, describing the radical changes that cloud enabled.

"It was Google kind of challenging us to rethink how we handle IT in healthcare," he said, noting that he and his team focused on delivering the cloud-enabled technology that allowed people to be more productive.

For example, the organization deployed Google Chromebooks to its emergency medical services team, which handles approximately 10,000 emergency calls a year. This shift enabled the EMS staff to start critical medical processes in transit instead of waiting until their runs are completed.

Middlesex Health also deployed Chromebooks to its clinical staff as well as to its staff trainers, enabling users to gain immediate access to the files they need without waiting precious minutes for computers to update when turned on, yet without storing sensitive data on the machines themselves (a strong selling point to the security team).

"They can take these out and open them up, and 10 to 12 seconds after opening up, they're ready," Romatzick said.

Such changes improved the productivity of the medical teams while also dropping trouble calls to IT team to zero, Romatzick said. He noted, for instance, that EMS workers had constant problems and frequent failures with their old laptops in the past, but those calls stopped when they got the Chromebooks. Moreover, the Chromebooks, at about $200 each (plus the additional cost of a management license), cost a fraction of the $4,000 or so for the ruggedized laptops that they had been using.

Although the move to cloud produced significant ROI, Romatzick said the transition to Google Suite, which has taken place over the past four years, has been incredibly smooth. "It's a lot quicker and simpler than it seems," he said. "The overhead to get this off the ground was incredibly low."

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