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The standard-bearer for standards

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In the high-stakes businesses of healthcare and finance, compliance is king. Failure to adhere to federal and industry regulations can result in serious fines for companies, or in certain situations, much, much worse. If only those companies knew to turn to Lumen21 for help.

Lumen21, an award-winning global technology firm, focuses on being the be-all-end-all for mid-sized and large organizations with complex compliance needs.

The Microsoft Cloud Services Provider, based out of Orange, California, offers all the required processes for meeting regulatory standards, freeing companies from having to build anything themselves. To that end, Lumen21 understands that compliance is not a checkbox, and it is not one-size-fits-all for every company. “One of the reasons I came here a few years ago was because I had worked at a large healthcare company and had seen that many of our vendors had a lot of problems implementing requirements for HIPAA and securing data,” said Nancy Wilson, VP of Privacy and Compliance.

Multiple inhibitors for regulated industries

Lumen in Latin means to understand and see clearly. The number twenty-one is meant to signify the current century, positioning Lumen21 as understanding life in this century. Back in 2007, when the company first formed, that understanding focused on IT assistance and managed services. “I wanted a set of services that focused on value-add,” said Lumen21 President Ed Don. “My hope was to then expand within that realm to something truly unique in the marketplace.” That led Lumen21 to managed services in security, which in turn led to organizations in regulated and compliance industries, especially healthcare and financial services organizations governed by payment card industry (PCI) regulatory requirements and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). The niche that Don carved out for his company offered huge rewards if Lumen21 could deliver the goods. If not, they’d quickly become a historical footnote.

The forecast calls for cloud

So how does a company go from compliance to the cloud? “We were looking at our business and direction and I started wondering about what would happen if the cloud technology that people were talking about became a normal way of doing business,” said Don. “We immediately knew that could be a game changer for us.” So a little over two years ago, Lumen21 embarked on a journey to embrace the cloud.

First, Lumen21 decided to recalibrate its business model. Why not help its customers, the ones in highly-regulated industries, find the best ways to adopt into the inevitable cloud transformation sweeping across the globe? “We knew from experience that these industries were going to encounter tremendously challenging issues in adopting that technology,” said Don. “Our idea was to take a leadership role by offering more ready-made solutions for meeting regulatory requirements in the cloud.”

Cloud compliance comes with a different set of challenges than on-premises. The hands-on efforts that compliance requires must be integrated with the distant hands-off circumstances that come with the cloud. “You can control on-premises much more easily and implement things much more quickly because you’ve got people physically touching the environment,” said Raj Gupta, Chief Technology Officer at Lumen21. Looking to put its best foot forward, the company needed to choose a cloud platform to blend with its own well-seasoned regulatory ingredients. It found that platform in Azure. “Microsoft Azure provides a comprehensive set of tools that allow companies to address Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI-DSS) compliance in the cloud, including business associate agreements (BAA) for Windows Azure Core Services to meet HIPAA Requirements,” said Wilson.

"Building on the strength of Azure’s compliance with a broad set of international, regional, and industry-specific compliance and regulatory standards, customers can implement the tools and processes needed to meet their specific compliance requirements."

– Nancy Wilson, VP of Privacy and Compliance, Lumen21

The ‘IT’ factor

“This was not something we were going to stick our heads in the sands and fight,” said Don. “We were going to embrace it.” Lumen21 wanted a platform that company leaders felt had the right technological components, road map, and footprint. They began the journey over two years ago and spent six months weighing the options between Azure and AWS. Ultimately Lumen21 chose Azure in part because their clients are Windows based, making it easier to work with Azure, and even more so for the pricing model. “Amazon is not favorable in that sense. Amazon tries to lock you down for a longer time because that’s more benefit for them, whereas Microsoft Azure is basically one price for everything, you use it you pay, you don’t use it you don’t pay,” said Raj Gupta, Chief Technology Officer. Equally as important was an organization that shared a similar mindset. “Microsoft has dedicated teams that sell to healthcare and financial services, so it has a certain awareness of what those clients are asking for and the issues those clients deal with, making conversation easier,” said Don. “Plus, it had invested in the support mechanism around those industries, recruiting application vendors that could provide a very good source of collaboration for us.” Lumen21 has not been disappointed with the decision, according to Gupta. “The last six to eight months, there are a lot more Azure features…” Gupta says. “In hindsight, two years ago, it’s been a good decision for us.”

“We look at compliance as people, process, and technology. You have to have all three in order to be compliant,” said Wilson.

Since adopting Azure, Microsoft has proven to be a very beneficial partner. “Having access to their engineering and developing talent helps us understand the road map and helps us learn how to best configure and architect a given solution,” said Don.

The best year ever

Today, the company has more than 100 employees situated in the US, Argentina, and India. The cloud represents approximately 35 percent of the company’s business. In the future, the company expects that number to double. Don believes that “Lumen21’s growth will definitely come from the cloud versus on-premises. That’s just because the market place is starting to embrace more and more the adoption of cloud technology.”

While the company has always been profitable with steady growth, revenue has exploded since taking on the cloud model. In fact, 2015 became the best year in the company’s history. Currently the company has seen an approximate 20 percent increase in business as a result of its cloud offerings. Don estimates that number to increase by 50 percent over the next year.

"Our mindset is we’re always trying to get better, and we’re banking on getting better and revenue growing. We’re prepared to do the things we need to do for ourselves and with Microsoft for our customers."

– Ed Don, President, Lumen 21

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