Published on 31-Aug-2011
"Availability for a healthcare provider is a life or death matter. The system can never, ever go down. There was never a question of using a server other than System z for our customer." - Phil Schaadt, CTO and chief consultant, Haddon Hill Group
A healthcare company
Cloud Computing, Information Governance, Information Integration
IBM Business Partner:
Haddon Hill Group
When a major healthcare organization with operations in multiple regions throughout the United States wanted to upgrade its claims processing system, it turned to Haddon Hill Group for assistance in provisioning its environment with IBM WebSphere® Process Server software.
A major healthcare company wanted to upgrade its claims processing system and deploy IBM WebSphere Process Server software into a virtual server farm based on IBM System z10 servers.
Haddon Hill Group provided an automated software implementation solution based on the IBM WebSphere CloudBurst Appliance device and IBM Rational Automation Framework for WebSphere software.
The solution enables the company to deploy software in 90 minutes, instead of up to two weeks. Plus, IBM Rational Automation Framework for WebSphere software helps eliminate manual, error-prone tasks.
Provisioning large virtual server environments can be labor intensive, involving many steps and decisions. Small errors can sometimes cause major setbacks. Therefore, minimizing the potential for errors is an essential part of streamlining the provisioning process. Managing change in large enterprises by helping them streamline complex software implementations has become the calling card of IBM Business Partner Haddon Hill Group, which is based in Oakland, California. “Haddon Hill Group has a team of experts dedicated to helping enterprise customers quickly implement complex and highly secure environments,” says Phil Schaadt, chief technical officer (CTO) and chief consultant, Haddon Hill Group. “Our experience includes implementing several first-of-its-kind deployments, and we can provide immediate customer-specific demonstration proofs-of-concept on our own infrastructure.”
When a major healthcare organization with operations in multiple regions throughout the United States wanted to upgrade its claims processing system, it turned to Haddon Hill Group for assistance in provisioning its environment with IBM WebSphere® Process Server software. “WebSphere Process Server software was a key component of the company’s service-oriented architecture and had to be implemented in five regions; each region had to have its own code base, its own processes and its own rules,” says Schaadt. “Each region also had to have development,QA, production and test environments, which meant multiple environments to keep track of with subtle differences in environmental variables and not-so-subtle differences in terms their data and functionality."
“Now, anyone who’s worked in that environment knows that it’s not going to happen in a few hours manually. You’re lucky if it’s going to happen in a few days or weeks.”
Leveraging the mainframe for maximum availability
In the case of the healthcare company, the virtual environment is hosted by an IBM System z10® Enterprise Class mainframe running the Linux operating system for maximum stability, efficiency and utilization of server resources. “Availability for a healthcare provider is a life or death matter. The system can never, ever go down,” says Schaadt. “There was never any question of any other type of server other than System z for our customer.”
Using the IBM z/VM® operating system, the mainframe can be partitioned into hundreds of Linux guests, each one a virtual server with all the stability and security of the mainframe. The healthcare company’s System z server is equipped with Integrated Facility for Linux (IFL) processors, which are special processors designed to run Linux cost-effectively and with more virtual images per core processor.
Needing an automated implementation solution
The healthcare company wanted a “gold topology”—a configuration that could serve as a reference for further enterprise implementations. A gold topology requires a minimum of three to five servers for each independent deployment. “In addition, there are a number of environmental variables for the WebSphere Process Server side,” says Schaadt. “We needed to isolate approximately 80 environments. But we couldn’t leave 80 environments up and running on the mainframe. That would be too costly. We needed an automated implementation solution which would enable us to roll out and roll back each image, knowing we could get it back. Additionally, we needed a way for the customer to know exactly what was deployed into their private cloud, for license tracking purposes and patch fix provisioning.”
Haddon Hill Group has developed a standardized, tested solution for implementing large-scale WebSphere environments using IBM Rational Automation Framework for WebSphere software, an IBM WebSphere CloudBurst™ Appliance device and IBM Rational® Build Forge® software for automating software assembly.
Implementing WebSphere Process Server software in just 90 minutes
Using IBM best practices, the WebSphere CloudBurst Appliance device packages Hypervisor Editions for key IBM WebSphere products, including IBM WebSphere Application Server, WebSphere Process Server, IBM WebSphere Message Broker and IBM WebSphere Portal software, along with the IBM DB2® database. Additionally, it is possible to create custom Hypervisor Editions of virtually any IBM AIX® operating system-based application for provisioning and management from the WebSphere CloudBurst Appliance device.
The WebSphere CloudBurst Appliance device leverages these pre-configured Hypervisor Edition products to rapidly dispense virtual images into the environment. “The important thing about the IBM WebSphere CloudBurst Appliance is that it will dispense a WebSphere Application Server image into your environment or private cloud along with other products within the WebSphere stack, and that application server will be ready in a few minutes,” says Schaadt. “You can do it in a clustered environment. And you can roll out IBM WebSphere Process Server and get it right in a fully clustered environment with a database connection in about 90 minutes. You can also easily manage all the configurations of the WebSphere
Process Server software that you need.”
Haddon Hill Group also implemented the claims processing module of IBM WebSphere Healthcare Content Pack, a configurable and extensible set of business process management (BPM) solutions based on Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) standards and IBM best practices for enrollment and claims collaboration to reduce risk and accelerate time to value.
Minimizing human intervention
The components of the WebSphere Process Server software implementation solution developed by Haddon Hill Group work together to help minimize human intervention. A user kicks off the process using Rational Automation Framework for WebSphere software on the Rational Build Forge application, which then invokes the WebSphere CloudBurst Appliance device. The device then connects to the z/VM operating system and creates virtual machines for WebSphere Process Server Hypervisor Edition and WebSphere Application Server Hypervisor Edition software. The WebSphere Cloudburst Appliance device starts the virtual machines and WebSphere Application Server Hypervisor Edition applications. Rational Build Forge software runs configuration scripts, assigns environmental variables and connects WebSphere Process Server Hypervisor Edition to the DB2 database on the IBM z/OS® operating system.
Rational Build Forge installs the real-time claims processing applications on WebSphere Process Server Hypervisor Edition software using application deployment scripts. The user logs on to the WebSphere software and begins to use the application—all in about 90 minutes. To manually deploy this environment would normally require weeks of planning, installation, configuration, and troubleshooting.
Automating software production
Rational Automation Framework for WebSphere and Rational Build forge software are critical elements of the solution. They help automate software production and eliminate manual, error-prone tasks, while reducing the maintenance of proprietary, homegrown scripts. The applications provide repeatable and consistent processes for improved efficiency and capture self-documenting data to create an audit trail. The solution has transformed the way the healthcare company creates the environments it needs. “With the WebSphere and Rational solution we know we can build any environment in about 90 minutes, do our testing and be able to take it back down knowing that we can always get it back,” says Schaadt.
For more information
To learn more about Rational software, WebSphere software or the System z platform, contact your IBM representative or IBM Business
Partner, or visit the following websites:
Products and services used
IBM products and services that were used in this case study.
System z: System z10 Enterprise Class (z10 EC)
DB2 for z/OS, Rational Build Forge Standard Edition, WebSphere Application Server Hypervisor Edition, WebSphere Process Server Hypervisor Edition, WebSphere CloudBurst Appliance, Rational Automation Framework for WebSphere, z/VM, z/OS
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