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11/30/2002 - Terabyte Triangle Welcomes WindStar Group

The WindStar Group is a venerable company whose principals have broad and deep experience. Jim Barry, President began working with computers in 1966 when computers were room sized, and key-punch cards were used to make them run. Barry and Alex Bulat, started WindStar in 1994 --- beginning as an IBM business partner and moving into information technology solutions and services. Today’s WindStar provides services in strategic technology planning, systems design, systems integration, systems management and support, business resumption planning, project management and Premier™ Customer Care Offerings. They are an IT consulting firm.

WindStar, which now employs 14 people, moved into the Terabyte Triangle in May to the Gateway Office Park at 1011 East Second. They moved into the Triangle because of cost and convenience, and because the Gateway has plenty of bandwidth available for their needs. “We can get to people more easily,” says Barry. “The Gateway is more centrally located.”

As IT consultants, WindStar does not represent any specific vendor. “One size does not fit all,” says Barry, “so we are ‘vendor agnostic,’ and will help our clients select the product or service that is best for them.” As consultants, the people at WindStar must stay in touch with the products that their might customers use only infrequently. Their job is to know the specifics of the products available, and help with specifications, terms and conditions, and the pitfalls. For acquisitions, they can help their client write an RFP so that purchasing power is maximized and mistakes aren’t made.

The WindStar approach is to generate efficiency through information technology. An example of this is their work within the health care industry. “Small clinics are in a difficult place and the doctors are getting squeezed,” says Barry. So WindStar assists to create more efficient business systems that help with electronic medical records, practice management software, and also may help facilitate insurance company payments --- creating efficiency and cutting costs.

Spokane’s hospitals are among the most wired in the world, according to Barry, but their software goes back a long way. Instead of throwing out the old, and starting over at great effort and cost, WindStar can adapt or modernize the old software to meet today’s standards, and run on today’s machines. At this time, they are taking an old mainframe MUMPS program to an Internet Interface.

Within those “wired” hospitals there’s a huge need for security. WindStar does a lot of security consulting, making sure the patient’s privacy is protected and the channels are secure. In leading the client to the best security for them, WindStar begins with security policy. What is the client trying to accomplish? There are no canned solutions --- good methodology is all-important.

After the policy, come the rules, followed by the technical and administrative protocol. Technical protocols might include firewalls, encryption, secured VPN, and a DMZ (a safe area within a network). Administrative protocols means tying to human resources (HR). According to Barry, an employee handbook on security is good. After installation, the security policy must be reviewed on a regular basis. It is not a static process. The world changes and so do the attacks.

One of Barry’s favorite areas at WindStar is project management. “Project management is very important,” says Barry, “because without it, nothing is apt to be delivered.”

A large percentage of WindStar’s clients are in the health care industry and include the Heart Institute and Incyte Pathology. However they have also dealt with manufacturing companies, financial institutions, and law enforcement among others. Recent clients include Avista and the Spokane Airport.

Although WindStar in shifting from a product base to a services base, they will continue to write and interface codes for new and old software. They can create an interface where none exists. “We are proud of the skills we bring to the customer”, says Barry, “we’re problem solvers, not sales people.”

To learn more about the WindStar Group, go to www.wsgi.com.

Billie Moreland
 
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