Published on 24-Jul-2012
"The XIV met and exceeded our expectations regarding uptime, capability, and performance. If I was speaking to somebody about storage in a data center, I would definitely recommend IBM XIV." - Seth Kuliszewski, Technology Manager, Main Line Health
Main Line Health
Virtualization, Virtualization - Server, Virtualization - Storage
IBM Business Partner:
Main Line Health is a comprehensive health resource in suburban Philadelphia, offering a full range of medical, educational and research capabilities. With four acute care hospitals, Lankenau Medical Center, Bryn Mawr, Paoli and Riddle Hospitals; a physical medicine and rehabilitation hospital, Bryn Mawr Rehab; and a substance abuse treatment center, Mirmont Treatment Center, Main Line Health offers a continuum of care, primarily for the 1.8 million residents in Montgomery, Delaware and Chester counties.
To facilitate its strategic move to a hosted and virtualized infrastructure, Main Line Health needed new storage technology that could handle the migration with minimal effort, cost and disruption.
IBM XIV® Storage System provided exceptional performance for virtual servers, extremely easy and cost-effective management, and built-in tools to migrate all data with zero disruption to users.
IBM XIV met and surpassed all of Main Line Health’s expectations, helping complete a complex migration with no impact on users, and reducing its hardware footprint and electricity costs.
Main Line Health is a comprehensive health resource in suburban Philadelphia, offering a full range of medical, educational and research capabilities. With four acute care hospitals, Lankenau Medical Center, Bryn Mawr, Paoli and Riddle Hospitals; a physical medicine and rehabilitation hospital, Bryn Mawr Rehab, and a substance abuse treatment center, Mirmont Treatment Center, Main Line Health offers a continuum of care, primarily for the 1.8 million residents in Montgomery, Delaware and Chester counties.
Recognizing that continued investment in its own data center would no longer be financially viable, Main Line Health embarked on a strategic project to virtualize its infrastructure and transfer it to a larger data center hosted by a third party. A key element was the data storage infrastructure, which consisted of numerous different types of direct-attached devices and two SAN devices.
Denis Tucker, Director of Technology at Main Line Health, comments, “We felt it was important for us to develop a strategy that incorporated an enterprise-wide SAN solution. One of the big challenges was to get the data from the existing storage devices, virtualize the solutions, and move that data to the new hosting center. We wanted to do that with as little down time impact on our end users as possible.”
XIV as strategic enabler
Main Line Health considered a number of options in its search for a new storage solution, and worked with business partners and application suppliers—including Siemens—to ensure that all its software would be supported by the new platform.
“IBM XIV Storage System brought some things to the table that none of the competing solutions had,” says Tucker. “One example was the software solutions required to handle the migration and replication of data incorporated into the base price. The competitors had offerings, but each came at a premium cost. IBM XIV was cost-effective as well as capable—and it has been a cornerstone of the entire migration and virtualization strategy.”
Seth Kuliszewski, Technology Manager at Main Line Health, reveals that he and his team were initially skeptical about IBM XIV’s capabilities: “To be perfectly honest, we had no expectations of the IBM XIV. We were previously fans of another vendor and that team was challenging the performance of XIV as one of those cynics, so to speak.”
He adds, “The whole team is now on board after using XIV, and they're looking forward to more XIVs here at Main Line Health. The user interface is fantastic—we can do everything we need right there with drag-and-drop, which was a pleasant surprise given the cumbersome command-line interfaces of other devices we've used.”
Zero disruption, universal solution
Using IBM XIV, Main Line Health was able to virtualize and migrate its mission-critical data to a new off-site hosting center, with no disruption to users.
"XIV provided the software necessary for us to get the data from our direct attached storage as well as our other legacy SAN solutions, do the virtualization and replicate the data to our hosting site," states Tucker. "And it did all this while keeping downtime to a minimum. This enabled us to transition our data center in roughly six months, with close to zero downtime impact to our users. The next step of our plan was to develop a secondary data center for disaster recovery and business continuity. XIV synchronous replication is a key attribute that allows us to move forward with that strategy."
Kuliszewski adds, "The XIV is a total storage device. We threw anything and everything we could at the XIV: from virtual machines and everything that’s in our VMware environment, to standalone servers, applications, big databases and small direct-attached flat-file storage. And the XIV has continued to perform beyond our expectations. Everyone at Main Line Health uses IBM XIV, from IT to the physicians and radiologists: all of our applications, including the syngo Workflow RIS, are on XIV."
Low complexity and high resilience
IBM XIV provides a number of strategic and operational benefits to Main Line Health. The tierless XIV architecture eliminates the complexity and cost of migrating data from tier to tier. In particular, the graphical user interface for system management is very easy to use, reducing the amount of time and effort spent by IT staff on managing the system.
Denis Tucker highlights the low TCO of XIV: "In preparing a cost analysis, we recognized that the XIV brought a very financially beneficial solution to the table. From a capital and operational standpoint, our costs are much lower than they would have been had we selected one of the other solutions that were available to us."
The IT team at Main Line Health also values the resilience of XIV. As Seth Kuliszewski remarks, "From a performance standpoint and uptime perspective, the XIV is fantastic. During our training on XIV, we pulled out an entire shelf and the XIV continued to run. Even with a dry failure, the XIV still runs without any impact to operations."
Cutting costs with virtualization
With VMware virtualization, Main Line Health has dramatically reduced its hardware footprint from 700 physical servers to fewer than 350, and is currently running some 450 virtual machines.
"Server virtualization has helped us financially, and the great match between XIV and VMware has played a key role in unlocking those benefits," comments Denis Tucker. "Virtualization also helps us be more effective and dynamic in our day-to-day operations. On the storage side, the reduced XIV footprint is also beneficial, as we’re now paying for hosting based on square footage and consumption of electricity."
Looking to the future
IBM XIV gives Main Line Health a data storage capability that meets all of its strategic objectives. According to Seth Kuliszewski, "The XIV met and exceeded our expectations regarding uptime, capability, and performance. If I was speaking to somebody about storage for their data center, I would definitely recommend IBM XIV."
Denis Tucker concludes: "Looking at IBM XIV as a technology leader, it’s one of the very few storage solutions that we’ve found lived up to its billing. IBM continues to excel in terms of research and development, generating new XIV solutions that perform better and have more capabilities. This is exactly why we chose IBM and XIV. As our business grows, we need to have a storage solution that can scale to our changing needs, and IBM XIV does exactly that."
Products and services used
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