Improving patient care through smarter computing

Published on 25-Feb-2011

Validated on 01 Aug 2012

"Because of the new backup, recovery and security capabilities, the VCU Health System now supports a business continuity plan as opposed to a disaster recovery plan. “In healthcare organizations, there is zero tolerance for any downtime.” " - Greg Johnson, CTO of VCU Health Systems

Customer:
VCU Health System

Industry:
Healthcare

Deployment country:
United States

Solution:
IT/infrastructure, Business Continuity, Business Resiliency, Optimizing IT, Smarter Computing

Overview

The VCU (Virginia Commonwealth University) Health System is an urban, comprehensive academic medical center. It was established to preserve and restore health for all people, seek the cause and cure of diseases through innovative research, and educate those who serve humanity

Business need:
Transform the VCU Health System IT infrastructure to better support its growing information environment

Solution:
Consolidated and virtualized disparate storage devices and servers; integrated, automated and secured the environment to support more efficient IT operations and improve access to critical data

Benefits:
Enables anytime, anywhere access to clinical applications and patient information, helping practitioners to be more productive and make informed decisions

Case Study

The VCU (Virginia Commonwealth University) Health System is an urban, comprehensive academic medical center. It was established to preserve and restore health for all people, seek the cause and cure of diseases through innovative research, and educate those who serve humanity


Growing out of an existing system and storage infrastructure

A growing organization, the VCU Health System had been demanding more and more out of its IT organization and storage infrastructure. Its data requirements were increasing 20-25 percent each year and energy costs were rising. Moreover, the organization had multiple disparate storage and system devices across two data centers that were becoming more difficult to manage. And backup and recovery storage processes were taking more than 20 hours—and at times, failing to complete the cycle.

Transforming IT architecture to improve accessibility of information

With help from IBM, the VCU Health System is in the process of virtualizing its desktop, system and storage environments, enabling doctors and clinicians to access patient information in a secure manner—from anywhere at any time—from practically any computer or Web-enabled device. This accessibility helps enable practitioners to be more efficient, care for more patients and provide more-immediate care.

Integrating information for a single version of the truth

The VCU Health System consolidated four different storage devices to a single IBM storage system, efficiently managed with IBM software. This allowed the organization to consolidate, deduplicate and eliminate redundant data, recovering storage capacity and integrating information from across the distributed computing environments. The new infrastructure was designed and architected with storage mirroring to improve and accelerate backup and recovery. The organization also migrated several servers onto just two virtualized IBM systems, now running the VCU Health System’s business-critical applications.

Automating system configuration for better efficiency

The IBM storage system automatically rebalances storage capacity, formerly a manual exercise performed by storage engineers. Data duplication of the virtual tape library is also automated, simplifying and accelerating backup and recovery. Additionally, the new infrastructure automates fail over of systems as needed, facilitating a highly available infrastructure.

Protecting critical systems from failure and threats

By consolidating disparate devices on to just a few powerful systems, the VCU Health System has reduced security threats and improved overall IT security. The centralized systems are more stable and easier to manage and repair. And with fewer entry points, the network is more resilient, and the infrastructure is less vulnerable to network-based threats.

Because of the new backup, recovery and security capabilities, the VCU Health System now supports a business continuity plan as opposed to a disaster recovery plan. “In healthcare organizations, there is zero tolerance for any downtime,” says Greg Johnson, CTO of VCU Health Systems. “We’re talking about patient care, patient lives, patient safety and patient outcomes.”

Following the infrastructure transformation, a power outage to the entire hospital had minimal discernable impact to end users of the data center. Its operations automatically rolled over to the failover systems, providing continuous services to clinicians and hospital staff.

Supporting information access through the cloud

The VCU Health System consolidated and virtualized storage capacity across two data centers, enabling the infrastructure to balance peak resource demands and enact rapid backup and recovery processes. These cloud-like capabilities help reduce system overload and downtime as well as business risk. And during periods of peak demand, critical enterprise applications can have enough processing power to operate efficiently. VCU Health System is also in the process of virtualizing its desktop environment, to provide clinicians with access to server and storage resources from practically any device—including Blackberry, iPhone and iPad devices.

Enabling patient care at anytime, from anywhere


By enabling anytime, anywhere access to clinical applications and patient information, practitioners can be more productive. They are no longer tied to fixed desktop locations to access critical data, freeing doctors and nurses to make well-informed decisions that yield better patient outcomes no matter where they are. “Our primary mission is patient care,” says Johnson. “The technology is there to support the clinicians who care for the patients. We are one hop away from human lives.”

In addition to changing the way doctors and nurses can treat patients, the infrastructure transformation also yields significant IT benefits:
· Reduces cost per terabyte by 50–55 percent
· Decreases data backup time from 23 to 2.5 hours
· Boosts storage capacity, targeting a 5–8 time increase, avoiding additional hardware investments

Moreover, the new architecture dramatically reduces manual tasks, decreasing human error and administrator time spent. And the load balancing between two data centers facilitates improved service at an optimum cost. These technological advancements help VCU Health Systems support the clinicians in providing better healthcare.


For more information

To learn more about smarter computing from IBM and how we can help you integrate, automate, protect and transform your IT, contact your IBM sales representative or IBM business partner, or visit:

ibm.com/smartercomputing

Products and services used

IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

Hardware:
Power Systems, Storage: TS7650 Data Deduplication, Storage: XIV

Software:
TotalStorage SAN Volume Controller

Legal Information

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