Humana: Enabling Collaborative Software Development with Pivotal Cloud Foundry

December 1, 2016
"The impact of the partnership with Pivotal is far greater than just shortening the application development life cycle." 

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Humana Inc., headquartered in Louisville, KY, is a leading health and well-being company founded in 1961. With a focus on helping people achieve their best health with clinical excellence through coordinated care, the company has approximately 50,000 associates and serves more than 14 million customers throughout the country.


Facilitate the building and deploying of software to meet the growing demand for applications

A core mission at Humana is to help its 14 million customers enjoy better and healthier lives, and one way they accomplish this goal is by offering people interactive mobile applications that provide useful healthcare advice. According to Jason McKee, Digital Experience Engineer at Humana, software is having a significant impact to the healthcare industry because of the growing number of tech-focused healthcare startups and changing expectations from customers who want to have 24/7 access to information. At Humana, the customers for whom software developers design applications include providers, consumers, and internal Humana employees.

“The demand for new software and the demand for software solutions only seems to grow,” McKee observes. “Because of our traditional processes, we weren’t able to meet consumer demand for new features, new applications, and enhanced value.”

Humana recognized that an important catalyst in business transformation is how fast enterprises can innovate, and some changes needed to be made.


Collaborate with Pivotal Labs to digitally transform the culture and use Pivotal Cloud Foundry to streamline the delivery of user-centered products

In 2013, Humana decided to partner with Pivotal Labs so that Humana software developers could learn agile methods to quickly build and deploy software and adopt Pivotal’s Cloud Foundry Cloud Native Platform to provide the optimal environment to develop cutting- edge mobile applications and other digital products.

Currently, the company’s cloud environment features an on-premise installation of Pivotal Cloud Foundry deployed on VMWare’s V-Sphere virtualization platform. Pivotal Cloud Foundry on-premise solution provides the ability to scale with the cloud coupled with appealing internal security controls.

McKee and several other Humana software developers traveled to the San Francisco Bay Area and to New York to collaborate with Pivotal Labs experts to gain hands-on experience with agile software development methods and learn how to use Pivotal Cloud Foundry to develop applications.

Humana developers also saw how the work environment at Pivotal Labs inspired new ideas and creativity, so they created the Humana Digital Experience Center (DEC) in Louisville, a new workspace that parallels the innovative spaces they used at Pivotal Labs. Today, the Humana DEC houses multidisciplinary software development teams working on Humana’s key digital products.


Creates a new culture that encourages teams to work together to develop products

Establishing the Humana DEC represents a change for the corporate culture at Humana. The Humana DEC is an attractive workspace that is designed to encourage collaboration and agility among product teams focused on designing mobile- and web-based products.

Two employees share one computer (using individual monitors that reflect the same work item) to help each other keep focused on tasks for the entire work day. Not only do they cooperate to address issues and solve challenges, but previously complicated design and development processes have been streamlined, so developer productivity has increased significantly, making it easier to create the applications that deliver new value to Humana’s users.

“The impact of the partnership with Pivotal Labs is far greater than just shortening the application development life cycle,” says Antonio Melo, Practice Director of the Humana DEC. “They’ve helped us foster a culture of organizational product experts, designers and engineers working together, face to face, where people can be themselves.”

Uses Lean and Agile methods to rapidly deliver innovative software products that fulfill customer needs

Humana software designers are using a variety of agile software development methodologies to streamline the software development cycle, including pair programming, test-driven development and a lean focus on products, from start to finish.

With new agile expertise, Humana and Pivotal teams have collaborated on developing the Humana Vitality mobile application, which allows consumers to create and measure particular personal wellness goals. They also worked together to quickly tackle a second application called My Health by Humana, a condition management mobile app that allows consumers to enter their blood pressure and their weight, and then receive tailored content to help them manage their health more effectively. By using Cloud Foundry at the back end, development on My Health by Humana took less than three months.

“Using Cloud Foundry really gave us a quick ability to deploy APIs,” says McKee. “Then, we let the app be consumed by a beta group at the end of the development period.”

Successfully meet the internal demand for new software applications across the business

Humana software developers are keenly aware that the demand for software applications is growing across the business. Cloud Foundry simplifies the application development process so much that it is much easier for developers to meet the software requirements of providers, consumers, and internal Humana users.


Looking ahead, software developers and designers with the Humana DEC are committed to continuing to accelerate efforts to develop a large number of applications to meet the needs of Human’s providers, consumers, and internal customers—a goal that is very achievable thanks to Pivotal Cloud Foundry.

“People have taken notice of the rapid rate in which we’re able to deliver applications,” says Melo. “The good news is we don’t have to do a lot of evangelizing because when a team comes to us with a request for an application, we co-create these products with that team made up of the people who will ultimately own the applications after our engagement with them ends.”

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