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How Express Scripts Tackles Complex Automation on Cloud Foundry

11 Jul 2017 2:00pm, by and

There are a number of new methodologies being applied to software development teams. One is based around the ideal that the platform can enable small development teams to build applications on an experimental basis: trying what might work, to determine what does work. It’s a method that requires a willingness among executives and senior managers to trust that solutions can be found by doing.

Despite what its name might infer, Express Scripts is not a developer tools company. The “Scripts” in its name refer to pharmaceutical orders. Individuals enrolled in prescription benefit plans use Express Scripts to order the pharmaceutical products they need, and have them shipped to their homes. The orders for these products are the “scripts,” and Express Scripts is in the business of order fulfillment.

You could say that’s a pretty direct, easy-to-explain, business model. But with America’s healthcare industry in the state it’s in today, and with the country comprised of no fewer than 50 states, plus some territories, each of which having its own laws and methodologies for working with healthcare providers, no single way of processing an order script can possibly work for everybody.

Imagine how hard it would be for you to automate the process of manufacturing goods, or shipping them, or simply moving trucks and ships across the globe, if every time you crossed into someone else’s jurisdiction, the rules of automation themselves changed. It’s a problem the European Union thought it was solving. Now, for Express Scripts’ IT director for cloud strategy and engineering, Brian Gregory, it’s a challenge he and his team must face head-on.

“The whole industry, if you look at what it was 15 years ago, it keeps moving up the stack,” Gregory told The New Stack’s Alex Williams, in an interview at the recent Cloud Foundry Summit Silicon Valley. “Ten years ago, you couldn’t even talk about virtualization. People wanted physical or hardware; they said virtualization was crazy. Then that problem was solved. Then it was like, how do we monitor? That was solved. Now, all of a sudden, you’re coming out with platforms.

“It definitely changes the game,” Gregory continued. “I think companies in general start to look at — or they should be, anyway — what differentiates my business [from] my competition? If you’re in the industry where [you’re] building a data center, and building out your own solutions, that might make sense. But in many, you’re going, how can I deliver value the fastest and the safest way possible? That’s where people start to go [with] external cloud, or these services. We don’t want to go build it ourselves.”

Hear more about how Brian Gregory and his Express Scripts team are facing down the huge challenge of facilitating process building for their enterprise, in this latest edition of The New Stack Makers podcast.

In This Edition:

1:58: How ExpressScripts started onboarding developers with and using Cloud Foundry.
4:53: What infrastructure ExpressScripts developers have access to.
7:26: Discussing ExpressScripts data centers and their utilization.
8:15: Data center modernization and how it correlates to Cloud Foundry with companies adopting more agile practices.
11:39 ExpressScript’s path toward continuous delivery.
15:12: Exploring the next part of ExpressScript’s journey with Cloud Foundry.

The Cloud Foundry Foundation is a sponsor of The New Stack.


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