Case Study: Sage Dental Readies Its IT Infrastructure for GrowthCase Study: Sage Dental Readies Its IT Infrastructure for Growth
Here's how solution provider R2 Unified Technologies helped Sage Dental restore its IT infrastructure.
March 12, 2020
Sage Dental Group had a vision for growth. That wasn’t a reality, however, for the dental service organization, with about 60 locations in Florida and Georgia, until Sage undertook a major IT infrastructure upgrade.
To get the company’s IT infrastructure to where it needed to be, Sage’s new CEO and president, Thomas Marler, who joined the company two years ago, and Daniel Mirsky, vice president of IT, who joined the dental service company shortly thereafter, took on the task of revamping the company’s IT, much of which hadn’t been upgraded in years.
For starters, there was a lack of IT leadership for the company’s 60 dental practices, call center and support center. There was no IT governance, and all IT engineering and service desk engineering tasks were outsourced.
Sage Dental’s Daniel Mirsky
“The company was out of touch with what was going on in the support center and the operational challenges that we were having,” Mirsky told Channel Futures.
Here are some of those challenges: a failing network that resulted in 30-40 hours of downtime per month, slow network response, no redundancy, old Aruba switches and no consistency in the network. Also, the company’s applications, running through remote desktop services (RDS) back in the data center, were crippled.
“We’re a paperless office and our practice management system was not accessible for most of the practices for what seemed like most of the time,” said Mirsky.
A web-based, dental business intelligence application that provided each practice with a 360-degree view of daily business – information such as open treatments, appointment rescheduling, no-shows – wasn’t loading properly.
Mirsky had to work quickly and get results quickly, but that wasn’t possible without an internal IT team. Naturally mistrustful of using outside providers to do critical IT work, he didn’t have a choice.
“It’s my environment and I like to have my own staff doing things,” he said.
Lucky for Sage, Mirsky had a previous relationship with R2, a 12-year-old solution provider, whose key vendor relationships include Cisco, Dell EMC, and VMware. R2’s service delivery projects focus on collaboration, data center, security, enterprise networking, wireless and cloud. R2 also had experience working with health-care organizations and the regulatory and compliance issues that go along with that.
Five years ago, R2 did similar work for Mirsky, when he worked for The Lasik Vision Institute, an organization that faced similar IT challenges and needed the same results.
“We needed an organization that understands our business. R2 knows how to navigate the whole health care organization, what to do and what not to do,” he said. “There are some partners out there that will give you a solution, but they really don’t understand your business or if it’s a good fit. R2 truly understands our business.”
In the course of about one year, R2 undertook and completed multiple projects that started with the IT Infrastructure and included installing a Cisco Meraki SD-WAN, cleaning up cabling, replacing aging switches and access points, and creating redundancy and failover from site to site.
R2’s Jamie Doherty
“Once Dan laid out what needed to get done, his organization was quick to accept it. Then we had to step on the gas and roll this thing out as fast as possible,” Jamie Doherty, president and CTO at R2, shared with Channel Futures.
A fast rollout meant that R2, with about 36 employees, borrowed internal resources from other projects in order to cut over at least one site per week, completing all 60 sites in about three to four months.
R2 scheduled with a single practice and had its engineers go in and do all of the network upgrades over the lunch hour.
”We ripped out the network infrastructure, every endpoint, and put in the Meraki, and a guest Wi-Fi infrastructure, and got it up and running,” said Doherty.
Mirsky almost from the get-go decided to …
… outfit the organization with new Dell desktops, and R2 added that to its to-do list.
“We’d start in the morning, replace each workstation, get the employee up to speed, and work on the network during the lunch hour. Delivering the images and desktops wasn’t a specialty of ours; it wasn’t something we had done before, but as a true partner, it didn’t make sense for Dan to have to send out someone else when we were in the field, so we took on the bulk of the hardware swap,” he said.
R2 calculated at one point about 21 out of about 29 employees had touched the project in some capacity – support, procurement, project management, ordering – and at least 10 different engineers took a role in delivery.
While that was going on, there were issues at the data center. R2 ripped and replaced 13 Dell servers and implemented a Cisco UCS enclosure, which replaced a VMware environment. Prior to the new solution, Sage used Dell and VMware vSphere Standard. R2 deployed Cisco UCS and VMware vSphere Enterprise for more visibility and capability in the data center.
R2’s Jason Doherty
“We were very flexible about helping to solve any onsite challenge [Sage] was having whether within the scope of the project or outside of it,” said Jason Doherty, director of sales at R2. “We have people that are capable of making good decisions on hand, as needed.”
The dental facilities are in a single-story building and required about two or three access points in each location. R2 put in a network capacity to deliver speeds of over 300Mbps at each location with security.
“We were building for the future, not only data but voice and video, for the purpose of training and real-time communication,” said Jamie Doherty.
R2 also implemented Cisco Umbrella for OpenDNS enterprise security and Cisco AMP for Endpoints. Old Polycom technology was replaced with Cisco WebEx Room Kits in all executive offices and conference rooms, transforming how the company collaborates.
2020 is the year that Sage stabilizes and runs the company at scale, having done multiple infrastructure projects last year, according to Mirsky. He continues to build out his IT team, including a service desk, an engineering team, a BI team and an application development team.
“R2 will be my first call for other projects and they stay actively engaged with us. I have a retainer with them that I use for engineering work,” he added. “They genuinely care. I would have never done all these big projects and risked my job and reputation unless I was sure that they could execute flawlessly.”
Mirsky considers the outcome and scope of the IT projects that R2 undertook, with a relatively small team, to be unheard of.
“The transformation that we had going from that much downtime to zero downtime is incredible,” he said.
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