St. Vincent’s Hospital freed from up time dependency

What happens when a hospital experiences downtime? It’s not as easy as temporarily switching off your computers, as is normally the case in a typical office environment.

The unfortunate consequence of severe dependency upon consistent uptime is that you inadvertently defer much-needed upgrades, perplexed at how to possibly carve out the time during a never-ending schedule?

St. Vincent’s University Hospital, one of the leading academic teaching hospitals provides front line, acute, chronic and emergency care across over 40 different medical specialties – and houses one of the country’s only integrated multi-hospital campus.

It is the major referral centre for the region for patients with cardiac emergencies, strokes and major trauma. And is home to a number of national centres including the National Centre for Cystic Fibrosis, National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP), National Liver Transplant Programme and the recently established, National Pancreas Transplant Programme. Its storage solutions, however, were traditional and had not been updated in over a decade.

“It was imperative that there would be no interruption to services. Limited to nearly zero downtime meant that when we moved to replace our legacy storage systems, we were determined that hospital workflows would continue to run uninterrupted,” said the hospital’s Director of IT, Dermot Cullinan.

Migrating patient data also bore the concerns that sensitive information could be impacted. Yet, the core process of this type of project was the migration process. How was this to be accomplished?

And what happens when future upgrades will need to be implemented? How can an organisation of that magnitude afford to risk any further unnecessary downtime when the technology was available to allow for infinite uptime?

A suited storage solution

Setting about upgrading its legacy systems, St. Vincent’s began the initial process of assessing its environment. What became very clear was that the hospital needed to future-proof its technologies. Upon choosing the most fitting IT company for the job, Comsys, an Evros brand, through a tender process, it was decided to replace the legacy storage with Dell EMC VPlex and Unity technologies. This was achieved with financial and expertise support from the Health Service Executive and The Office for Government Procurement.

This would be implemented asynchronously across two data centres; one on-premise and a second location. Asynchronous applications allow specific technology to logically synch real-time data between two data centres, so the storage of data actively mirrors both workloads. In the event of a power outage or downtime, if one fails, the second data centre functions as normal and renumerates its counterpart from the exact point of downtime. The academic hospital would never experience another server downtime ever again.

Working with Comsys solutions architects both certified in installing VPlex, the St. Vincent’s team was engaged throughout the entire migration process.

“Comsys delivered a very personal touch from the very start through to the end, they gave us a consistency of who we were engaging with, which allowed a mutual understanding of the process. The inevitable challenges that arise in a project of this magnitude were effectively steered through,” said Simeon Owens, ICT Services Manager at St. Vincent’s Hospital.

So, how – or more importantly – when did the teams plan to migrate? It was agreed to replace legacy systems through a series of weeks and months. The Comsys team would set up the new storage systems by workload requirement, the most important data was migrated first, during the agreed mission critical downtime. This often turned out to be very early in the morning e.g. 5am for two hours at a time.

The Handover

The team received multiple one-to-one training and workshop sessions on all possible failure scenarios for each infinite system types; St. Vincent’s were to be fully prepared for all possible outcomes. And with continuous support from Comsys, their robust storage system has now completed its entire data migration over to the new systems.

“I knew coming into this project, due to the nature of St. Vincent’s primary function as a major healthcare facility, there would be very little margin for error. Preparation, planning and working in tandem with the St. Vincent’s staff were the key reasons this project was such a success,” said Comsys Senior Account Manager Barry O’Connor.

“Working so closely with St. Vincent’s has helped me understand the key areas within the health sector and the challenges that they face on a day-to-day basis, and how to best to overcome these obstacles,” added Barry.

Now currently the most advanced active/active system, the new storage systems at St. Vincent’s Hospital now boasts a zero downtime storage system, which has been future-proofed to implement further updates, regardless of the system they choose to use in the VPlex environment.

For a workplace that never stops, St. Vincent’s was finally able to boast a system that suited their clinical demands; one of perpetual persistence, flexibility, and innovation.

Would you like to find out more about storage migration and backup? Contact Evros Technology Group today.