Hospitals never sleep, and neither can their information systems. Allina Hospitals and Clinics found itself outgrowing its old mail-sharing system as well as needing to improve the storage solution for its patient-critical data. The organisation's technology team set maximum system availability as its top priority when it formulated its shopping list for more than $1.5 million in new storage solutions.
"We looked at the IBM and EMC solutions, but Compaq simply came out ahead", stated David Lind, director of information technology at Allina. "We earlier picked Compaq as our partner for servers. So it was a natural progression for us, when searching for storage area network solutions, to look at Compaq, based on the performance that we have had with their servers."
Allina's previous e-mail system was based on stand-alone servers and storage that was internal to the servers themselves. Allina wanted to replace the older systems with technology that would provide greater reliability and scalability, as well as the flexibility to reassign and synchronise resources for optimal data recovery and performance.
Allina worked with Compaq Global Services to design a highly redundant system architecture that would provide Allina users with fast, round-the-clock access to a new messaging and collaboration solution based on Microsoft Exchange 2000 Server. The system architecture includes industry-standard Compaq ProLiant 8500 servers, configured with two dual-node clusters and a Compaq StorageWorks SAN comprised of two EMA12000 fully integrated Computer Interconnect storage systems, all running on the Windows 2000 operating system.
To manage the redundant controller path, Allina uses SANworks Secure Path for Windows, a multipath, high availability software which manages and maintains continuous data access to Compaq storage systems, ensuring there is no single point-of-failure from server to storage.
"It is a lot easier to grow a storage area network than to add multiple servers and do it the old-fashioned way", stated Mr. Lind. "In our original design, we had actually accounted for three clusters, and we only implemented two. So when we grow beyond the 12.000-user mark, we will simply add the third cluster without affecting the storage environment."
Since implementing the original SAN solution for the Exchange 2000 messaging platform, Allina has signed an agreement to purchase Compaq's new Enterprise Virtual Array to support its patient-data-records application, bringing the total value of the organisation's SAN solution investments to about $1.5 million.
Enterprise Virtual Array is a high performance, high capacity, and high availability "virtual" RAID storage solution for the high-end enterprise class marketplace that removes the time, space, and cost boundaries of traditionally architected storage. The enterprise technology complements Allina's EMA12000 StorageWorks solution and can co-exist in the same Fibre Channel SAN while providing 2 GB/second end-to-end Fibre Channel technology readiness.
Because health care facilities compete for patients based primarily on the quality of care they offer, it all comes down to reputation. When systems are operational and provide the necessary 24x7 functionality, the hospital or clinic can run smoothly and it shows. More Compaq solutions news for health care is available in this VMW issue's article Compaq adopts accelerated solution strategy to build momentum in health care.