How Converged Infrastructure is enabling the Modern Data Center for the Healthcare Industry

With healthcare reform requirements, massive merger and acquisition initiatives and a growing need to manage the health of the patient population, healthcare providers face some daunting challenges and opportunities. Two truths seem clear: 1. the operational and clinical provider landscape will remain to some extent uncertain and 2. healthcare providers need a platform to modernize their data centers that will provide unmatched agility, speed, cost effectiveness, security and scalability.

Combined with that as federal Electronic Health Records policy continues to evolve, technology initiatives have become critical to basic healthcare requirements from the smallest doctor’s office to the largest hospital. More so than ever, organizations trying to meet complex new federal mandates and adopt improved technology solutions find that their goals are a constantly moving target. On one hand, healthcare providers must accomplish more with less, yet effective care is increasingly dependent on a wide variety of increasingly complex and infrastructure intensive products and systems.

The list is extensive: in addition to core EMR systems, organizations are using building automation systems, picture archiving and communications systems (PACS), computerized physician order entry (CPOE), clinical decision support systems (CDSS), closed circuit television (CCTV), real-time location-based systems (RTLS) and even interactive patient education systems. And this isn’t taking into consideration business apps like accounting, administration, learning management, workflow and process automation, intranet, logistics and even ERP. These are a few of the challenges and associated solutions that we’re looking forward to discussing with our customers and partners at HIMSS 2016.

Trey & Chad
Chad Sakac and I took the opportunity to talk about these topics with customers at the Monday night VCE Users Group here at HIMSS.

Challenges and Opportunities

Dealing with the frenetic rate of change in healthcare standards and application support required by today’s healthcare organizations means that scalability and forward thinking are critical to healthcare CIOs. As IDC reports, CIOs are being asked to reduce costs, consolidate resources, and produce and deliver higher quality services to support patient care more quickly than ever. At VCE, we’ve been able to optimize our Converged Platforms designs to accelerate IT transformation and dramatically simplify IT operations while mitigating risks. With VCE, healthcare organizations are able to shift resources to focus more on innovation and less on maintenance. The industry has thus been able to reduce costs, accelerate the return on investment and really reap the benefits of having state-of-the-art technology, optimized applications which enables improved patient care.

Customers Realize the Benefits of Converged Infrastructure

Chad Eckes, EVP and CFO of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, turned to converged infrastructure as an effective technology to manage change without sacrificing strategic priorities.

Wake Forest purchased and deployed three Vblock Systems: Vblock 720, Vblock 540, and Vblock 340 to provide the infrastructure for its new software-defined data center, Wake Cloud. The environment was designed to support not only the medical center’s upgrade to Epic 2014 EMR, but also more than 750 other applications.

“Our first Vblock System was launched specifically to manage our very large imaging files. We were able to set up the entire Vblock System environment within two days—a process that had taken six weeks in the past,” Eckes says. “The implementation proved the financial case, and our governance’s response was, ‘How can we speed up the rest of the deployment?’”

Chad Eckes
Chad Eckes spoke on the first HX360 panel of the day. He took time to emphasize the importance of an agile infrastructure when it comes to enabling innovation.

With the implementation of the VCE Vblock System infrastructure, Wake Forest has been able to standardize, consolidate and converge technologies to simplify its IT environment and significantly reduce both its physical and management footprints. It also has successfully moved away from its previous project-based application delivery model—which resulted in an IT stack for each new solution—to a VCE-based enterprise hybrid cloud, service-based model.

But system complexity isn’t the only challenge in healthcare. We’re increasingly witnessing regulatory concerns emerge as one of paramount importance to healthcare organizations. Since 2015, the HITECH act has made it essential for healthcare organizations to not only demonstrate meaningful use but also pay massive penalties that are assessed as a result of data breaches. Our customers consistently tell us that trusted converged infrastructure is key to enabling their organizations to centralize and control organizational data by leveraging unified management, enhanced security features and complementary technologies such as VDI to provide anytime access to medical systems while not allowing patient data outside the data center.

Mark Braidwood, Director, Infrastructure Technology Architecture and Services, Interior Health relies on the MEDITECH electronic health record solution to help it provide efficient and more effective patient care. As the facility upgraded to the latest version, it chose to move to a converged infrastructure to answer MEDITECH’s expanded server, storage and networking requirements. Since choosing Vblock System Interior Health has seen improvements to MEDITECH’s performance and has enabled its IT support teams to focus on business enablement and training instead of reactive networking tasks.

“By running MEDITECH and other applications on the same converged infrastructure, we’ve seen application performance improvements and efficiencies. This will go a long way in helping clinicians increase their productivity and responsiveness to patients. Ultimately, the Vblock System has helped IH deliver a better clinician experience, which leads to improved patient care,” Braidwood says.

Choosing the Right Converged Infrastructure for You

The maturity of the converged solution selected is an important aspect of garnering maximum value and business benefit from converged or hyper-converged infrastructure systems. In addition, the types of workloads running on these systems are critical in determining the best converged platforms. VCE ranks the strongest in both these categories as validated by both our customers and industry analysts.

magic quad
Source: Gartner (August, 2015)

Gartner in their most recent Magic Quadrant analysis ranked our vision and ability to execute combined as the highest in the industry. The choice of Blocks, Racks and Appliances enables organizations of all sizes to flexibly and cost-effectively deploy converged and hyper-converged infrastructure systems that match their specific needs.

For larger deployments, a variety of Vblock and VxBlock (VMware NSX ready) converged infrastructure systems are available depending on customer requirements. For the most extreme-scale projects, VCE offers the VxRack, a full rack hyper-converged system that collapses compute and storage into the same physical device and accommodates hyper-scale workloads. And finally, for small organizations or branch offices, the VCE’s hyper-converged infrastructure appliance, VxRail enables the most cost-effective scalability and ease of use while maintaining centralized management and configuration features available on larger systems.

VCE’s Vision software unifies all of these systems separately or together into a single unified management framework, which is further augmented by the Solutions Exchange online portal which offers pre-built applications and connectors to other network management tools accelerating time to deployment and facilitating ease of management.

Tyler Fisher, the CIO of Gordon Memorial Hospital summed up his experience selecting VCE converged infrastructure this way: “When I finished my presentation to the hospital board, the chairman said that it would be foolish not to purchase the Vblock System. That’s how clear we felt the decision was.”

We remain committed to the healthcare industry and I’m excited by the opportunities ahead in delivering the industry’s richest, enterprise-scale, Converged Platforms customer experience.

Join us at HIMSS 2016 at Booth #1921 on the Exhibit floor to hear more about EMC and VCE solutions in healthcare IT.

Trey Layton

About the Author: Trey Layton

Trey started his career in the US Military stationed at United States Central Command, MacDill AFB, FL. Trey served as an intelligence analyst focused on the Middle East and conducted support of missions in the first days of the war on terror. Following the military Trey joined Cisco where he served as an engineer for Data Center, IP Telephony and Security Technologies. Trey later joined the partner ecosystem where he modernized the practices of several national and regional partner organizations, helping them transform offerings to emerging technologies. Trey joined NetApp in 2004 where he contributed to the creation of best practices for Ethernet Storage and VMware integration. Trey contributed to the development of the architecture which became the basis for FlexPod. In 2010 Trey joined VCE, where he was promoted by Chairman & CEO, VCE, Michael Capellas to Chief Technology Officer, VCE. As CTO Trey was responsible for the product and technology strategy for Vblock, VxBlock, VxRack, Vscale and VxRail. During his tenure, VCE was recognized as one of the fastest technology companies to reach $1 Billion in revenues and one of the most successful joint ventures in IT history. The origional VCE products Trey has led strategy on continue to be leaders in their respective share categories around the world. In 2016 Trey was asked to lead from concept the development of an all Dell Technologies converged product. From that initial concept Trey led a global team of engineers to deliver Dell EMC PowerOne, the industry’s first autonomous infrastructure solution, embedding open source technologies which enable automated infrastructure integration based on declarative outcomes.