Data Protection Prescribed for Steadfast Preventive Healthcare

As winter and end of year nears we think about getting flu shots, drawing down balances in our flexible healthcare accounts, and New Year’s resolutions that will help keep us healthy.woman walking outdoors with earphones graphs 461992871

At St. Charles Health System, we also embrace a proactive, preventive approach when it comes to keeping our IT infrastructure healthy. Not too long ago though we were running into some roadblocks. As we added clinics and acquired hospitals over the last six years, our data assets grew 800%, making it more challenging to protect our infrastructure and deliver on this preventive strategy.

Before, we were using tape backups, which was just plain scary. We never knew if the backups were viable until we restored them. We simply could not risk loss of test data, for example, and having that affect a patient’s treatment plan.

To resolve these issues, we moved from tape to backing up everything using EMC Avamar and EMC Data Domain with Data Domain Boost. This includes critical applications such as our hospital and ambulatory EHR systems, Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft Exchange and Microsoft SharePoint.  We’re 98% virtualized with VMware vSphere and protect 1,500 virtual machines with EMC as well.

We’re especially thrilled about Data Domain. We’re seeing deduplication rates of 63:1, which is well beyond our expectations. We spin up hundreds of new VMs and the little usage bar in Data Domain barely budges. We no longer worry about having enough capacity to back up our growing data.

Our backup times are phenomenal. With Avamar we get image-level backups and have our entire infrastructure backed up to Data Domain in four hours instead of days. Other backups such as SQL Server complete in just 15 minutes. Then we replicate backups to our disaster recovery site for extra protection. Using EMC VMAX3 SRDF technology for business continuity failover and EMC RecoverPoint replication, we also can easily roll back our data in a disaster scenario. In fact, Recover Time Objective (RTO) improved from days to minutes and Recover Point Objective (RPO) from hours to 15 minutes or less.

With EMC Data Protection, we back up our virtual machines automatically from their original location or a new location at a different data center. If needed, we can restore their backups in minutes like nothing happened. That makes our users happy, especially since before bare-metal restores often took days.

Access to applications and data is essential for our doctors and nurses to care for patients, from providing proper medications to getting them into surgery on time. To further support our growth, we’re deploying VMAX3 and expect it will deliver the same application stability and uptime our longstanding EMC infrastructure has provided to our hospitals.

VMAX3 also will help us manage the environment more efficiently without expanding our IT storage and virtualization team of four. VMAX3 provisioning will let us easily assign applications requiring high performance and availability to diamond and platinum storage tiers, while putting others on more cost-efficient storage. This will help us consolidate and reduce costs.

With EMC, we have healthy and efficient infrastructure that can handle and resolve expected and unexpected events, such as a deleted file, a failed disk drive, or a new clinic joining our network. We absorb events and change without any data loss or interruption of critical applications. With this solid foundation, our doctors and nurses can focus on what they do best: treating our patients with the best care possible and keeping them healthy.

Learn more about St. Charles Health System by watching this video.

About the Author: Chris Waugh