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Meaningful use, 3D imaging drive health data storage demand

Allen Bernard | May 23, 2013
Healthcare providers are under siege by massive amounts of data. This is forcing the industry to upgrade its aging storage infrastructures, architectures and systems. Where that data is being stored may come as a surprise.

That's what The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus has done with its three-tier storage network from EMC and IBM. (Somewhat surprisingly, email shares priority Tier 1 storage with EHRs.) Most providers aren't here yet, though. In fact, as demand for space outstrips providers' ability to save everything, Hanover is starting to see delete policies for older data that is no longer relevant.

But this is a stop-gap measure. As picture archiving and communication systems (PACS) come online and are installed atop standards-based vendor neutral archives, these systems will let providers manage data much more effectively from a policy perspective. "VNA functionality would allow the implementation of these new clinical policies and these new business-rules based approaches to managing storage," Hanover says.

Cloud vs. On-Premises Storage Debate Has Surprising Winner
Imaging is kicking the demand for more storage into high gear. When PACS and integrated EHR systems are in place, providers are better able to take advantage of data analytics to improve efficiencies and outcomes by examining data across their networks. Most providers are still moving in this direction, though, and the industry has a long way to go before this is the norm.

That was the challenge facing St. Dominic Hospital in Jackson, Miss. Two years ago, the 535-bed hospital that's the hub of a regional network started to evaluate its options for solving its data problems. St. Dominic could continue with its aging SAN architecture, which was ill-suited for managing unstructured data; turn to a cloud provider, which somewhat surprisingly was the most expensive option, or go with scale-out NAS.

After a lengthy evaluation process that looked at major storage vendors such as Dell, IBM, NetApp and AT&T, as well as niche players like Scale Computing, the facility decided on EMC Isilon scale-out NAS. To manage its data, St. Dominic uses EMC data management apps, including InsightIQ performance management, SmartLock data retention, SnapshotIQ data protection and SyncIQ data replication software.

"We've had a massive growth of unstructured data, and it's come from many different areas," says Wendell Pinegar, St. Dominic's applications supervisor. "When we analyzed everything, when we looked at a complete solution, we landed on a scale-out NAS as the center piece of all our unstructured data."

St. Dominic deployed two 100 TB Isilon NL series storage clusters for most of its storage. The facility still maintains a Tier 1 SAN for their XenDesktop virtual desktop (VDI) deployment and transactional databases. It will add 200 TB to this total by the end of this year and again in five years.

While it took only a few hours to stand up the two clusters, moving 500 million records onto the new system took about three months. It will take another year or so to complete the entire migration onto the new clusters. The work is hard, Pinegar says, but the benefits are substantial.


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