Metro-wide Storage Virtualization Powers an Integrated Delivery Network

April 14, 2010

NEW YORK and FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida – April 14, 2010 – DataCore Software today announced that its storage virtualization software has been deployed in two metro clusters at Continuum Health Partners, Inc. (“Continuum”), whereby it affords multi-site data protection and failover. Continuum, like many health networks, was faced with the challenge of making their diverse storage infrastructure available around the clock, across multiple locations. “Our goal here was to deploy a system that would allow us to achieve high availability and business continuity for all of our clinical systems,” states Jill Wojcik, IT Director, Continuum Health Partners. “With DataCore in place and with hardware in two different locations, this has allowed us to make our mission-critical, clinical imaging – along with other systems – highly available.”

 Beth Israel Medical Center and Roosevelt Hospital, two hospitals in Continuum’s network, were faced with the challenge of downtime and data availability. Thanks to metro-wide storage virtualization from DataCore Software, Continuum now has many of their imaging systems and three of their principal IT facilities running on metro-clusters.

The metro-clustered IT infrastructure at the two Continuum hospitals ensures business continuity, with DataCore storage virtualization software at the center of it. DataCore synchronously mirrors the PACS (Picture Archiving and Communications Systems) images from Beth Israel Medical Center and Roosevelt Hospital in New York to Continuum’s data center in Secaucus, New Jersey. “With specific reference to the PACS images, before this metro-clustering initiative these systems had their own support people at the various hospitals and were pretty much autonomous systems,” explained Wojcik. “We have brought this in and have centralized the systems now in our central data center – using DataCore software running on top of the various hardware solutions.” 

Metro clusters comprise multiple, distinct computer systems capable of taking over for each other despite being separated geographically over metropolitan distances of 10-20 miles.

Major technical challenges arise in trying to maintain separate mirrored copies of data at each site without incurring downtime when switching between them; however, DataCore makes this possible. DataCore software runs at each hospital and communicates with its mirrored counterpart at the central data center, where the rest of the organizations’ data is also stored. Either of these installations can automatically fail-over to the other “hot site.” When one side of the cluster goes down – the other side comes up; and that happens at the application-level, seamlessly. 

The hospitals replicate their images to the data center using Fibre Channel protocol over separate “dark” fiber pairs at a rate of 200 megabytes (MBs) per second. A Verizon DWDM (Dense Wave Division multiplexer) Metropolitan Area Network (MAN) provides full loop connectivity ensuring two diverse paths for each connection.

In this deployment, the application servers are clustered and their disks are also redundant. Should the system go down at the core data center, the applications can failover to the hot site to provide the user community continuous access to their applications.

In total, DataCore SANsymphony™ software virtualizes and manages well over 200 TBs (collectively) for the various hospitals in the Continuum network. The environment supports a community of 14,000 users using over five-hundred (500) servers.

The IT team at Continuum is quick to cite DataCore’s hardware-independence as a key benefit for the hospitals that make up their health care network, enabling unprecedented flexibility. They were initially able to re-purpose existing IBM storage assets for the disk pool on one side of the cluster – then subsequently added to the mirrored storage pool with new IBM hardware.

The overarching benefit of this implementation, however, has been unprecedented high availability. The key to this is that the data resides on geographically separated 100% mirrored systems – where one set of disks resides at the data center and one set resides in a “remote” hospital. Continuum has effectively eliminated the need to do traditional disaster recovery should a calamity happen. Whereas many IT organizations normally go through a painful process of assembling resources to recover data following a site-wide outage, the metro clusters at Continuum Health Partners allow them to take over operations from their hot site uninterrupted 

Additionally, a very tangible benefit of this metro cluster environment has to do with system maintenance. System maintenance can now be done without any interruption to the user community. Wojcik commented, “Since we have implemented this, we have not experienced any downtime – even for system maintenance.”

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