IBM introduces Grid Medical Archive Solution to manage health care storage growth

Armonk 02 June 2005IBM and Bycast Inc. have designed new solutions to help deliver improved patient care through a Grid-powered storage system that enables Picture Archive and Communication System (PACS) applications and other systems to more readily access fixed-content data including medical files, documents and images. IBM Healthcare and Life Science's Grid Medical Archive Solution (GMAS), based on IBM's TotalStorage and eServer and Bycast Inc.'s StorageGRID software, provides flexible and scalable virtualized storage solutions for medium to large health care organisations and hospital networks.


Hospitals and other health institutions, through their existing PACS and imaging applications, will be able to access distributed medical images using open and scalable technologies, including Linux, while taking advantage of robust data integrity features. GMAS effectively abstracts PACS from the underlying storage infrastructure via the use of Grid storage technologies, allowing hospitals to share storage across distributed facilities, helping to optimize utilization, simplifying administration and decreasing storage costs. The resulting scalable storage system enhances PACS' ability to quickly and reliably deliver patient images to where they are needed throughout the organisation, which can help lead to improved diagnosis, treatment and serve as a foundation for information based medicine.

With departmental buying being the historic norm in health care, health care providers are seeing a significant increase in storage investment associated with medical imaging and other types of fixed content (e.g. audio, video, documents). Today's health care providers must address their growing storage needs by leveraging resources across multiple applications and sites instead of continuing to invest in storage every time an individual departmental need arises.

"Health care clients are looking for ways to deliver high-availability storage systems that can scale to tackle the exponential growth of fixed content data and multiple facilities", stated Moe Kermani, CEO of Bycast Inc. "By using StorageGRID's powerful capabilities with IBM's products and services, hospitals can achieve a more flexible and cost effective enterprise-wide storage system. IBM has the experience, skills and resources to assist customers of all sizes, across all geographies, to deliver solutions on a local, national and global basis."

As a technology expert with years of experience developing and implementing breakthrough health care solutions, IBM Healthcare & Life Sciences understands the infrastructure, regulatory, budgetary and patient care challenges facing health care providers. With Bycast and IBM, customers can more effectively allow their PACS and imaging applications and distributed storage without any disruption to their imaging applications.

"This solution is a prime example of how Grid computing is fundamentally changing the way customers interact with information technology, harnessing the combined power of heterogeneous computing devices and disparate information sources around the world to attack challenges in research, government, health care and commercial enterprises", stated Ken King, IBM's vice president of Grid computing. "In this instance, we're delivering innovative Grid-enabled solutions to address health care providers' most important challenges with the long term goal of improving patient care."

Implementing GMAS underneath an enterprise PACS or imaging system can help deliver the following benefits to health care organisations:

  • Intelligent, cost-effective storage: Information Lifecycle Management (ILM) capabilities of the Grid-powered storage system enable intelligent placement of medical images - high-value studies on on-line, while less important data can automatically be stored near-line or off-line. The value of the data can be derived from the file content or metadata. Storing data in the right place, on the right media, at the right time will reduce the total cost of ownership of an enterprise storage system.
  • Reduced hardware obsolescence with easier upgrades: GMAS was designed to enable seamless technology refreshes - new hardware resources can be transparently added, older existing hardware is easily decommissioned and data migration is automated. In health care, where data will outlive hardware, hardware obsolescence protection will help drastically reduce the total cost of ownership.
  • Built-in business continuity: GMAS intelligent replication and Grid architecture can deliver business continuity robustness in case of a disaster. In health care, where digital image archives can be hundreds of terabytes, this built-in approach to business continuity is superior to traditional "back-up and restore" procedures which may lead to extended service disruptions during recovery.
  • Greater openness, scalability and reliability: GMAS provides a unified storage system that supports multi-PACS, multi-storage vendor and multi-server environments. Storage virtualization enables improved scalability, reliability and availability.

Bycast Inc. is the standard in high performance storage software solutions based on the next generation of Grid computing technology. The Bycast StorageGRID solution combines the power of Grid computing with intelligent information lifecycle management to optimize petabyte-scale archives of fixed content data. Health care providers can leverage Bycast software solutions to securely store and efficiently transmit diagnostic images and documents within the enterprise or across multi-site facilities. Bycast solutions have been deployed at leading health care institutions including the British Columbia Cancer Agency. Bycast Inc. is a privately held company located in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

More medical news from IBM is available in the VMW June 2005 article IBM and UPMC in $402 million on demand agreement to drive health care transformation.

Leslie Versweyveld

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