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Technical healing

Technical healing

While any organisation with 200 seats needs ample storage to do business, a hospital will always have a special set of requirements.

For HP reseller, Multibiz Solutions, the main challenges it faced moving the healthcare provider onto an expandable and virtualised storage system included the need for security, redundancy and tight budget control. Multibiz enterprise solution architect, Luke Neil, said the first step was to take out the hospital’s existing local storage solution, which had previously failed a number of times.

“There is a hospital site and a pharmacy about 1km away, which is linked wirelessly,” he said. “They wanted to look at shared storage with VMware and disaster recovery.

“They previously used HP DL380 G5 servers with local discs. The clients wanted to move to high availability (HA) but what they had was limited according to when the physical servers were up.”

Adapting to the vertical

In an effort to introduce more redundancies, greatly improve server uptime and boost performance, Multibiz went with two VMware-equipped HP DL380 servers at the hospital and one at the pharmacy site. Each location also got a Lefthand Storage Area Network (SAN) to share the load and two HP MSL2024 tape drives for archiving. “They run 24 hours a day so what they needed was to be able to run the network even if a server died,” he said. “They wanted another site that was online they could fail over to. The system has asynchronous replication across both locations.”

Patient records require high levels of security to prevent unwanted access and this solution was built with that in mind. The information must also be kept on hand for long periods of time. To ensure a high quality service across all locations, the wireless link had to have plenty of bandwidth.

“We’ll be updating their firewall very soon,” he said. “They used a microwave link between the two sites, which uses a private frequency. Even if you have a wireless laptop out next door, you won’t be able to access it. It’s a closed off range of frequencies.

“They had access points previously, but it only ran at 10Mbps. Now it runs at 90 Mbps and is purely dedicated to the replication of the storage…they needed it to be secure so they couldn’t throw it onto the cloud. “If anything fails at the hospital site they can failover to the second server or the pharmacy site. The speed means other hospital-side users can still work. We built a fair bit of head room into the servers, so they’re able to accommodate the main features of all users.”

Running to budget

A primary concern of the hospital was staying within a very strict budget. The client wanted more than it could afford and also needed to gradually increase the solution’s storage capacity.

This lead Neil to a scaled down system with plenty of expandability for future budget cycles. Existing storage devices were also integrated to improve cost effectiveness.

“They’ve got most of the features they need now and we’ll expand it later,” he said. “The servers have a lifespan of three years before they need to look at expanding the hardware.

“They had an LT03 tape drive. One of the existing DL380 servers is being used as a backup and VNC console for a lefthand SAN and an existing Network Accessed Storage (NAS) device is going to be turned into a secondary iSCSI storage box.”

While the entire hospital currently runs off 3.4 TB of data, it has a maximum capacity of 4.9TB. Although this is normally a fair amount of space for 200 users, medical files can often be large and plans for more data are already in place.

“I just put an application for two nodes into their budget so they’re going in within a month or two,” he said. “Now that the infrastructure is in place it can easily adapt to whatever they need to do.” Neil said the end result was very satisfactory for customers, who had previously rejected a rival solution proposal.

“They’re very happy and they signed off on it within a week because the solution solved all their needs,” he said. “We initially wanted to use a HP Fibre Channel EVA storage solution, but once you add disaster recovery into it the price becomes too expensive because of licensing.”


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Tags Storage Area Network (SAN)Luke NeilMultibiz SolutionsNetwork Accessed Storage (NAS)

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