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Dell XC Series underpins hospital's IT overhaul

CarePoint Health System installed Dell hyper-convergence and Nutanix software to boost its local SAN, and to cut cost by shifting electronic records to Dell's healthcare cloud.

Looking for an "agile, future-ready data center," CarePoint Health System in Hudson County, N.J., turned to hyper-convergence and cloud storage to complete an overhaul of its IT infrastructure.

The hospital system installed Dell XC Series hyper-converged storage, replaced Cisco switches with Dell Open Networking Force10 software-defined networking, and moved electronic patient records and medical images to Dell's cloud data centers. The Dell XC Series hardware is sold under an OEM distribution deal between Dell and hyper-convergence pioneer Nutanix.

Hyper-converged appliances integrate compute, networking, storage and virtualization resources inside one chassis. CarePoint installed a single, hybrid Dell-branded Nutanix XC Series 720 hyper-converged appliance at its Brooklyn, N.Y., data center and buys cloud storage capacity as needed using Dell Managed Services. The health network also uses Hewlett Packard Enterprise 3PAR SAN arrays for a local storage at individual hospitals to complement the Dell XC Series and keep up with rapidly growing data.

The Dell XC Series is part of a consolidation to replace disparate infrastructure picked up during a series of hospital acquisitions in 2012. The older systems did not enable an "agile, future-ready data center," said Joel Taylor, CIO at CarePoint Health.

"We wanted a management system that didn't require a tremendous amount of time or professional expertise to configure. Dell introduced us to Nutanix. We realized it could decrease our staff's effort and dramatically increase our time to delivery. Those are the two holy grails of IT," Taylor said.

"Our strategy was to get away from the traditional model of standing up servers with two or three applications per box. When we compared, the price point for doing it the old way was about four times the cost of Dell-Nutanix. Talk about having a quick conversation with your CFO."

Dell XC Series coupled with Dell DR cloud

Taylor also wanted predictable costs when adding capacity for electronic medical records and medical imaging storage.

"Radiology is our No. 1 generator of new storage and our electronic records is a close second. Our hospitals do about 20,000 impressions each day. You can imagine how quickly that grows," Taylor said.

Joel Taylor, CIO at CarePoint Health SystemJoel Taylor

CarePoint's Meditech electronic medical records applications and picture archiving and communication system images are stored at a Dell cloud data center in Cincinnati with MPLS connectivity to the Brooklyn data center. Dell replicates CarePoint storage from Cincinnati to its data centers in multiple states.

In addition, CarePoint subscribes to Dell Cloud Clinical Archive for disaster recovery access to the hospital's medical imaging data. Hospital employees use Dell cloud storage via Citrix XenServer virtual desktop infrastructure.

Taylor said moving to cloud storage is cheaper and easier than refreshing Meditech infrastructure nearing end of life. Dell analyzes CarePoint's data consumption and forecasts how much additional storage needs to be purchased.

"The pay-as-we-grow model is far more appealing than having to manage it ourselves," he said. "We don't have to think about our capacity. Dell provided us with the storage we need, so my team can focus on delivering systems that give high availability and uptime to our physicians."

Along with the 3PAR array, Commvault disk backup is a holdover from the previous infrastructure. CarePoint's Commvault appliances run version 10 of Simpana backup and deduplication software to protect noncritical corporate data on the 3PAR SAN. A Commvault device in Brooklyn replicates the data to a second Commvault appliance at a nearby colocation facility.

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