How one health care firm fixed its data storage worries

 In Case Studies, Hardware, Solutions, Storage

When the new IT director at a U.S. health care and financial management firm examined his on-premises storage environment, he noticed something unexpected: The last byte of storage was in sight.

The company needed storage, and soon. The entire business — collecting, analyzing, and processing new medical records, health care, and insurance data — depended on it. A lack of storage space would halt the review and processing of insurance claims and billing, and there wasn’t much time to prevent it.

medical data

Solving the deficiency was a two-step fix: a stop-gap measure that would immediately provide storage, and a full storage upgrade that would replace devices approaching end-of-life. This long-term plan would have to be flexible and capable of scaling up with the company’s growth while maintaining high performance.

A short-term and long-term solution

The firm’s HP Lefthand SAN was on its last legs, and it needed 30 terabytes fast. The company had been a longtime Dell and HP shop, but was open to new ideas.

SHI proposed a quick fix while developing a long-term solution: Installing an EMC VNXe3200 would address the company’s immediate data growth requirements and easily integrate with its existing VMware environment. With the new storage array in place, the team could then focus on developing a long-term strategy.

For the long-range plan, the firm again chose an EMC storage system, a VNX5400 array with a Fibre Channel storage network. This solution offers ample capacity to meet the company’s long-term storage and server requirements. SHI worked side-by-side with the firm’s staff to deploy this solution and provided introductory training for the new technology.

The firm’s environment was further strengthened by installing a new Fibre Channel storage area network (FC SAN) with fibre channel switches and high-performance Fibre Channel host bus adapters (FC HBA) for its production servers. Moving to a Fibre Channel boosted the storage network’s speed and improved its vitality. SHI also helped install uninterruptable power supply capacity for redundancy and high availability in the new storage environment, which is critically important for the health care records and claims data the firm stores and accesses.

In total, 14 production servers were taken offline, reconfigured and upgraded, and brought back online over the course of a week in a manner that minimized disruption to the production processing. This enhanced environment gave the firm adequate storage space it could grow into.

A system built on potential

The success of the project isn’t necessarily the hardware or the installation (that went smoothly), but the capabilities and potential of this new, multi-tiered system. The design of the new infrastructure now gives the firm options to shift focus from storage to performance, and back again as they see fit and company growth dictates.
Plus, the decision to transition to Fibre Channel increased the storage network’s bandwidth, giving the firm additional performance without expanding the footprint of its infrastructure.

Building a fault-tolerant, high-performance infrastructure

It’s unexpected to see data storage about to hit its limit. When this health care management firm saw that reality unfolding, it moved quickly to upgrade its SAN, improve network connections, and add storage capacity it needed for the immediate future, and more.

The firm’s stronger IT foundation allows it to scale up its storage and performance based on its needs. These storage upgrades make the system capable of serving as both a block and file facility. Now, the firm is certainly prepped for growth, and can reliably expect the system to handle scaled up storage needs and performance.

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