I often find the best way to learn about the impact specific products have on IT infrastructure is to communicate directly with people using them. This time, Hussein Sh-Ibrahim, IT Director of Professional Healthcare Resources, was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions about what his organization was doing and why.
Please introduce yourself and your organization.
I'm Hussein Sh-Ibrahim, IT Director, Professional Healthcare Resources. Professional Healthcare Resources (PHR), based in Annandale, VA, is an innovative company dedicated to helping thousands of Maryland, Virginia, and DC patients improve the quality of their lives. From skilled nursing to therapy to personal care and hospice, PHR helps those recovering from recent hospitalization or illness, those facing their final days, or those who just need some assistance with the activities of daily life. Founded in 1994, PHR cares for over 2000 patients per day.
What were you doing that required this type of technology?
Three years ago, PHR moved from a paper-based patient care system to a digital system using tablets as client/input devices. Today, six IT professionals support the entire PHR network of servers, networks, storage, clients, and applications. The physical datacenter infrastructure is based on 40 HP and Dell servers, including virtual machines, communicating over an Ethernet / iSCSI network to a shared Astute ViSX Performance Storage Appliance. Healthcare applications, primarily related to patient care, are built upon Sybase databases. Microsoft SharePoint is the collaboration tool for all employees and is also supported by the ViSX.
Going forward, PHR plans to implement approximately 200 virtual desktops to improve desktop support, enabling an easier to manage, more reliable infrastructure for the end user devices - tablets and Windows PCs.
With the legacy installed HP StorageWorks and Dell PowerVault storage systems, capacity utilization was not optimized, but performance was the biggest issue with the user community. Automation of all patient care processes has been an ongoing effort, which has placed new demands on the storage infrastructure. With patient satisfaction a primary business driver, the IT team was charged with improving response times for all the patient-facing applications.
What products did you consider before making a selection?
PHR looked at various storage solutions, including but not limited to hybrid arrays (looked at Nimble) and the Dell EqualLogic solution, and determined that they were too expensive and/or didn't have the right balance between performance, cost and environmentals.
Why did you select this product?
After researching the Astute Networks' ViSX performance storage appliance and then talking with customer references, PHR decided to take advantage of the Astute's "try and buy" offering. During the 30-day evaluation period and after seeing the initial outstanding performance results for themselves, PHR was convinced.
What tangible benefit have you received through the use of this product?
We saw both technical and business benefits.
- Easy Deployment - PHR connected the Astute Networks ViSX appliance in a matter of minutes, once the Ethernet local area network with the iSCSI protocol was deployed. PHR had been using direct-attached storage, but found migrating to iSCSI-based storage was a very easy upgrade.
- Dramatic Increase in Performance - The difference in performance between the old DAS array and the ViSX appliance was like night and day. And, after PHR deployed its first ViSX appliance into production, we saw a dramatic increase in the responsiveness of our Sybase database applications.
- Improved Backup Capabilities - What used to take 4 - 5 hours, now completes in less than an hour, enabling PHR to do other backups in that we were not able to do before.
- SharePoint Performance Improvement - SharePoint is running signifcantly better than when it was running on the servers' hard drive.
- Increased Employee Productivity and Efficiency - Virtual machine application performance has been optimized. Productivity and efficiency is up as well, because employees can now quickly access patient data like never before.
What advice would you offer others who are facing similar circumstances?
If you are challenged by optimization, Sybase application performance, random IOPs performance for VM and virtual desktops, Sharepoint response times, meeting backup window goals, and/or increasing data center environmentals (i.e., power, cooling and floor space) - you should look into Astute ViSX solution and its try before you buy program.