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HPE 3PAR StoreServ all-flash fixes hospital's image problems

Riverside Healthcare dedicates its all-flash 3PAR StoreServ array to revamp its PACS. New images are stored in HPE's onboard cache for quicker retrieval by radiologists.

Riverside Healthcare made an unusual decision after obtaining all-flash storage from Hewlett Packard Enterprise. While enterprises generally deploy flash for primary storage, the hospital system dedicated an HPE 3PAR StoreServ 8450 array to revamp its radiological picture archiving and communications system, or PACS.

Riverside archives historical images on HPE Medical Archive Solutions (MAS) SAN nodes, while keeping a two-year cache of recent images on HPE 3PAR StoreServ all-flash storage for fast retrieval by radiologists and doctors. The 3PAR storage attaches to HPE ProLiant DL380 racks to replace an older HPE Enterprise Virtual Array 6400 system.

Riverside is a full-HPE shop. The hospital won the 3PAR 8450 array with 60 TB of flash for its entry in a 2016 contest sponsored by HPE and SSD vendor SanDisk, which is now part of Western Digital Corp. To enter, contestants had to submit a story or video about their flash storage situation.

"At the time, we had an HPE 3PAR StoreServ 7450 for our EMR [electronic medical record] databases. Our doctors and nurses said it made such a difference to have the performance backing the system they use everyday," said Troy Cailteux, system administrator at Riverside, based in Kankakee, Ill.

Anatomy of a PACS upgrade

Troy Cailteux, Riverside Healthcare system administrator Troy Cailteux

Advances in scanning equipment produce images with higher resolution and greater detail. Cailteaux said Riverside generates about 20 TB a year of new imaging data between cardiology and radiology. He said the number of patients Riverside serves is growing, on average, by 10% each year.

"Everything we store on PACS is a new image. Our growth rate on the PACS is pretty high. And the number of patients we're seeing is growing about 10% a year," Cailteaux said.

Based on its earlier success, Cailteaux said Riverside deployed the new HPE storage to upgrade its medical imaging system.

"At first, some people felt that would be a waste, but it's the biggest pain point in our hospital. If we could put our PACS in a bare-metal environment built on the new HPE, the servers would have endless speed," Cailteaux said.

He said radiologists accustomed to waiting minutes now retrieve images within seconds. "I would estimate we were saving at least a couple of hours per day that radiologists and doctors have to help patients," Cailteaux said.

Riverside fills out its HPE storage environment

I would estimate we were saving at least a couple of hours per day that radiologists and doctors have to help patients.
Troy Cailteuxsystem administrator at Riverside Healthcare

Hewlett Packard acquired 3PAR in 2010 and positions the 3PAR  platform as its all-flash flagship. The application-specific integrated circuit-designed arrays localize data deduplication in hardware and include an onboard flash cache. The HPE 3PAR StoreServ 9450 replaced the 8450 as the high-end model in 2017.

Cailteaux's IT team virtualized the PACS environment in VMware as it transitioned to the 3PAR flash storage. That allowed users to pull images from the StoreServ cache without interruption.

Riverside's other HPE storage includes a 3PAR StoreServ 7400 system with 150 TB of hybrid storage for a Citrix farm and business application environments. That includes 14 TB of flash devoted to Epic Systems databases. Cailtreaux said the Citrix environment eventually could move to HPE all-flash. The hospital also runs HPE Enterprise Virtual Array 4400 arrays for certain legacy applications.

Riverside plans to migrate archived images from HPE MAS to a disk-based HPE StorageWorks archive. The StorageWorks is backed by two HPE 3PAR StoreServ 8200 direct-attached arrays that replicate snapshots for remote disaster recovery.

Cailtreau said Riverside may consider HPE's Nimble Storage SANs for its next refresh, but that's a few years away. He said he is considering testing HPE Synergy composable infrastructure as a potential alternative to his VMware blade infrastructure.

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