Featured BizSpark Startup on Azure – DocCom

Interview with Dr. Jonathon Peter Shaw, Chief Technical Officer and founder of DocCom.

Web site: http://www.doccom.me

Tell us who you are and your role in the company:

Chief Technical Officer and founder.

What is your company’s mission?

To become the leading global platform for healthcare communication.

In 140 characters or less, tell us what your company does: *

DocCom is secure Enterprise Social Networking for healthcare and improves communication, collaboration, efficiency and safety across healthcare organisations.

Tell us about your Azure based solution.

DocCom have developed an Enterprise Social Networking solution specifically for the healthcare sector. It is free for any healthcare professional to use. It allows clinicians to communicate securely and find each other easily without knowing or sharing personal contact information or relying on poorly managed distribution lists. Clinicians can join and create private groups within healthcare networks in order to have secure conversations, manage events and share documents and this can be accessed on any device including a smartphone.  

This platform also provides healthcare organisations with an enterprise social network to enable them to engage better with their staff and break down the silos that stifle corporate communication and jeopardise patient care. Our cloud-based platform solves clinical communication problems with a series of healthcare-specific applications while at the same time, providing rich business intelligence and insight into a healthcare organisation’s workforce.

How is Azure implemented in your solution?

Our solution now runs almost entirely off Azure. We have a distributed architecture built on Asp.Net 4. We use both SQL Azure for relational data and Azure Table storage for our NoSQL solution and take advantage of Azure’s blob storage for most of our content. Azure AppFabric cache is used for caching database data and session state. In addition to our web roles, we have worker processes for indexing, notification queues, message processing, virus checking etc. We use a Lucene library on Azure for search and SendGrid for a cloud based SMTP solution.

How did you get excited about Azure?

It’s funny but it was a potential investor that we met in our early days of setting up the company that made me recognise the importance of cloud infrastructure. In a typical VC way, he asked how we could ever expect to compete as a small company and provide the scalability and redundancy that we would need. That was when the concept of today’s cloud computing was in it’s infancy and I couldn’t answer him well at the time. With the development of Azure, I knew I had my answer.

What were the Azure features that prompted you to decide to build on Azure?

Azure has been a great choice for us and is probably the most advanced cloud computing platform out there. We have developed on a Microsoft stack so it was already a natural choice but actually Azure offers the richest set of tools and integration features of any cloud platform. A good management portal makes it easy to configure our VM roles, deploy rolling upgrades, manage staging environments etc. We also take advantage of some great features that fit well with our code base such as the AppFabric cache. We are also using Access Control Services which provides industry standard authentication for our solution as well as the ability to federate with customer infrastructure. Finally, Microsoft is firmly committed to enterprise grade security and compliance, which is incredibly important to us.

What specific value are you getting from BizSpark beyond the technology?

Bizspark has been a fantastic programme that I would strongly recommend to any startup company. You get superb exposure to the investor and startup community through numerous high profile and international events and the programme provides some great networking opportunities. The Bizspark team also recognise the need to treat startup companies differently from corporate clients and so they are able to find all sorts of creative ways to help and support you as a company.

What has been your biggest “aha” moment since founding your company?

When we realised we did not need to sell but instead concentrate on just giving users something they needed. By solving the frustrating problems in healthcare communication, we knew organisations would pay for something that made them safer and more efficient.

What advice do you have for companies that are thinking about building in the cloud?

Think about it as early as possible and then build a distributed architecture. Don’t be afraid to take the leap, although there are a few small development hurdles to overcome, it is then very liberating knowing you have the scalability and redundancy offered by Azure. Also the development pace of the Azure roadmap has been pretty impressive this last year.

What is the one thing that you would like readers to take away about your Azure app?

DocCom will revolutionise the way healthcare professionals connect and communicate and by making healthcare organisations more collaborative we can make them safer, better and more efficient.

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