Health Network Laboratories’ Journey to VDI Nirvana

This blog was written by Chhandomay Mandal, Solutions Marketing Director for EMC All-Flash Storage

Health Network Laboratories (HNL) is a leading regional diagnostic and anatomic pathology services company. With 10 laboratories, over 50 patient services centers, and 6 supporting hospitals, HNL services the Pennsylvania/New Jersey markets with over 3,000 clinical diagnosis testing and pathology services. They deliver over 40M test reports annually.

As business expanded, HNL was going through the growing pains. The challenges HNL had in their data center revolved around performance, uptime, business continuity, and disaster recovery. Their original focus was primarily on core systems and critical enterprise applications from a redundancy and backup perspective, but HNL quickly realized that the end users – clinicians, pathologists, laboratory technicians – still needed a desktop to be able to utilize these core systems.

To achieve a 24×7 operation with access from anywhere, HNL focused on a VDI implementation that could really drive performance. They also wanted the VDI deployment to have features and functionalities that were as good, if not better than traditional desktops but with all of the redundancy that a data center VDI solution should be able to provide.

HNL’s first attempt with VDI didn’t go well. When they first deployed 600 persistent virtual desktops, it consumed 40 TB of storage, and the performance they needed simply wasn’t there.

Harvey Guindi, CIO of HNL, and his team researched various options, and they chose XtremIO for their VDI storage platform after thoroughly comparing multiple flash-based storage arrays.

The results were astounding. With XtremIO’s inline, all-the-time data reduction technologies coupled with application layering software technologies to achieve desktop persistence, HNL saw 40x improvements in storage capacity savings. When they reached the same level of 600 persistent desktops, the VDI solution consumed less than 1TB!

What about performance?

XtremIO gave us this Autobahn where we have no speed limit,” says Harvey. “As we were going in batch deployment, we actually outpaced the plan that we had. At our halfway point where we were supposed to roll out 500 desktops, we were well over 600. The primary reason for that was people were actually, as they were seeing the experience from their colleagues, asking us to move them over to the VDI solution. In essence, it’s like having your own XtremIO running your desktop!

The effect in terms of user performance and response is phenomenal. When you can click on a button and have your Windows desktop there within seconds, no traditional desktop is going to be able to catch up with that.

Harvey shared his experiences with the VDI deployment, available here and below.

In order to achieve the business continuity and disaster recovery in the VDI implementation, HNL is using EMC VPLEX. In Harvey’s world, VPLEX is the Nirvana of the true always-on replicated and redundant data center.

Dave Raffo of TechTarget chronicled Harvey’s “Noah’s Ark” approach of disaster recovery earlier. “With VPLEX, the ability to migrate things from our primary to our backup data center, we can literally do things during production hours,” said Harvey. “We are able to migrate systems, patch them, and then migrate them back without anybody noticing, and that was really unheard of.”

Today, almost all of HNL’s over 1,000 employees are on virtual desktops – powered by a single 5TB XtremIO Starter X-Brick! With 20:1 storage capacity utilization efficiency and only 10% of overall IOPS capability utilized, Harvey is consolidating other workloads on the same Starter X-Brick.

Harvey’s conclusion:

XtremIO has done phenomenal job saving you storage. … We are so giddy about XtremIO only because rarely has a solution ever out-delivers its promises. In the beginning when the IOPS and deduplication numbers were shared with us, we were skeptical thinking these are best of world scenario. But our numbers came in even higher. We think our praise is very well earned.”

Harvey shared the details of HNL’s VDI implementation in a recent webinar, available on-demand here.

Learn more about VDI with XtremIO here.

About the Author: Chhandomay Mandal

Dr. Chhandomay Mandal is the Director of Solutions Marketing at Dell Technologies. He leads solutions across artificial intelligence, analytics, business applications, VDI and HPC as well as industry-specific solutions for healthcare, media & entertainment, semiconductors and smart manufacturing. Prior to his current role, he led Dell’s all-flash storage solutions marketing efforts for desktop virtualization, server virtualization and private cloud. Dr. Mandal has been awarded 13 patents. He has a PhD from University of Florida, MBA from Indiana University, and BTech from Indian Institute of Technology.