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Success Story: A Virtualized Storage Infrastructure for Healthcare

Healthcare as an industry is facing growing complexity around regulations for data storage, as well as dealing with legacy infrastructures that are not up to today’s digital demands.

In previous blog posts, we explored how we helped Hanover Hospital and Community Health Network to better manage, store and recover increasing volumes of data. Now, let’s take a look at CompuTech City (CTC) and the challenges this service provider faced in implementing a healthcare data storage solution.

Meeting the Increasing Demand for Availability

CompuTech City (CTC) is a provider of IT infrastructure management services with a primary focus on Healthcare Information Technology (HIT). CTC has also developed its own state-of-the-art infrastructure and facilities, which provides the design, implementation and management of these facilities for customers, whether they have 3 or 300 workstations. If you’re in this industry, you know that HIT makes extraordinary demands on a computing infrastructure.

In addition to providing the reliability and availability that healthcare providers and patients demand, companies like CTC must also comply with the stringent privacy requirements of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)—which can be challenging under the best case scenarios.

From Painful to Pain-free with Software-Defined Storage

When the company expanded its services to include a software-as-a-service (SaaS) Electronic Health Records (EHR) solution, its existing storage solution was (surprise!) not up to the challenge. CompuTech City was an early adopter of storage virtualization technology, but after the company deployed its EHR solution two years ago, the shortcomings of the existing solution became more obvious. CTC’s number-one requirement? High availability: It was essential that if there was a failure in one node, the I/O be redirected to the other node seamlessly–something the previous solution could not do.

Enter the SANsymphony software-defined storage (SDS) solution to support its virtualized data center. This SDS approach not only gave CompuTech City the availability, scalability, and performance that HIT and its customers demand, but helped launch the company as a DataCore value-added solution provider to the healthcare industry.

Research led CTC to DataCore SANsymphony software-defined storage. The company had already built a robust server virtualization infrastructure around Citrix XenServer and Dell MD-Series direct attached storage (DAS), so SANsymphony’s ability to create a storage virtualization environment from existing equipment and storage devices made it a “no-brainer.” Previously, the company had experienced a lot of feature and support issues with its previous storage virtualization solution—and it was not very scalable.

There was nothing else out there on par with DataCore. It has every feature that we needed in a software-defined storage solution, with seamless failover and failback

Easy to Manage Availability, Performance, Scalability, and Flexibility

CompuTech City currently has five Citrix XenServer hosts supporting 35 virtual machines, backed by over six TB of virtualized storage presented as virtual disks or LUNs by two DataCore SANsymphony servers in a redundant “active-active” configuration. The system delivers high availability, improved performance, tremendous storage hardware flexibility, and effortless scalability.

Onsite synchronous mirroring between the two DataCore servers provides the high availability and business continuity demanded by HIT customers. DataCore’s high-speed Level-1 caching has significantly improved the performance of CTC’s virtualized environment. The company is now seeing storage I/O speeds of 270-300 Mbps—double what the company got before—an astronomical difference.

In terms of hardware, SANsymphony delivers enormous flexibility and scalability–the Dell PowerVault MD 1000 and MD 3000 combination comprise sixty disks – thirty on one side and thirty on the other. This means CDC can use any disks in the system without any degradation in performance or availability, so they can use all the disk drives they have and choose the best storage hardware deals for expansion.

All these capabilities are easily managed via the simple, intuitive SANsymphony management console, which any system administrator can log into through CompuTech City’s VPN. Moreover, through remote desktop services CTC also been able to provision virtual disks (or LUNs) on the fly–even using a mobile phone.

The management simplicity of SANsymphony makes it easy to extend the benefits of healthcare storage virtualization to CTC’s established infrastructure and cloud computing clients as well as to new accounts as they grow the business.

For additional data protection, CTC also intends to deploy asynchronous mirroring (remote replication) for offsite back-up.

The Foundation of CompuTech City

Since installing DataCore’s software, CTC has had a number of planned outages to support hardware refreshes and upgrades, and each time the system has failed over without incident or disruption to business.

DataCore now serves as the cornerstone of CompuTech City’s SaaS model for its healthcare users. The company’s EHR solution, with DataCore at the heart of the virtualized environment, currently supports 800 users. At least 100 doctors connect to the system on a daily basis in order to schedule patients, to review and update medical records, as well as for billing.

Read the Full Story

Get more details, including feedback from the CTC’s Chief Operating Officer in the CompuTech case study here.

Interested in seeing more? Check out some of our other healthcare customer success stories:

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