When Rick Salcak was looking to replace the server farm at the Royal Victoria Hospital (RVH) he wanted nothing short of “”total control on managing our storage.””

Despite opening in 1997, Salcak’s client server environment had become

unruly and difficult to manage. He was dealing with 30 islands of information and storage couldn’t be shared between applications, so he had to take applications offline to replace spindles with larger ones.

“”In the health-care environment it doesn’t matter whether its two o’clock on a Sunday afternoon or two o’clock on a Tuesday morning, there’s never any good time to take the applications away from doctors, nurses and the various health care professionals,”” Salcak says.

“”We were going through almost an annual exercise of replacing four gig spindles with nine gig spindles, and then nine gig spindles with 18 gig spindles, and 18 gig spindles with 36 gig, and so on and so on. From a cost of ownership it was killing us.””

These kinds of data demands are new to hospitals according to Rick Lawton, business development manager for health care at EMC Canada. “”The volume of data in these diagnostic imaging files is huge, just absolutely huge,”” he says, and adds if doctors can quickly retrieve this information from a variety of locations they can reduce scheduling times and improve care.

The hospital outgrew its storage infrastructure thanks to an expanding population and technology advances. Salcak says Barrie is one of the fastest growing communities and the size of diagnostic imaging (MRIs, CAT scans, ultrasound) files has exploded — up to 50 megabytes.

Last year the hospital decided it had to come up with something more than a Band-Aid solution. Salcak says he looked at a number of options before choosing an EMC storage area network (SAN) solution. He says a SAN was the answer for two reasons: availability and cost. He says there is minimal application down time when adding storage or upgrading software and 99.999 per cent data availability. On the price side, he says he hated having to spend money on storage technology for the long term knowing full well it would be cheaper six months later.

Tony Prigmore, a senior storage analyst with Milford, Mass.-based Enterprise Storage Group, says Salcak will save a great deal on human costs as well.

“”In a direct attached storage environment you might end up spending $7 or $8 of management for every $1 that you spend on infrastructure, and when you go to a networked storage environment you can pretty easily cut that in half,”” Prigmore says.

“”Rather than having to replace spindles, like he (Salcak) was taking about, what you can do is just bring in the latest technology and have it co-exist in the SAN with the previous generation. What you don’t have to do is replace; you can just augment.””

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