B.C. health authority rolling out multi-tiered storage to cut costs, provide easy access to critical data

“In the past we always had one tier of storage,” Kirby says. “When you just have one tier of storage, basically everything (is treated as) the most critical, so we have internal Web servers that are used by 10 people using the same storage as our mission-critical clinical information system, and really that’s not a cost-effective way of dealing with the disk.”

Now the authority is looking at ways to implement different tiers of storage to meet its assorted needs. Interior Health has worked with storage vendor EMC Corp. to develop an ILM strategy. By summer, the authority hopes to install Clariion disk arrays and Symmetrix DMX-3 tiered-storage technology that allows for multiple types of storage in a single system.

Like any health-care organization, Interior Health is also concerned about compliance. It is legally required to keep clinical information on adult patients for seven years, and data on minors must be kept until seven years after the patients turn 21.

Given the assorted requirements and the difficult of classifying information, Kirby says, “basically we’re looking at keeping online and available a lot of these images forever.” That means continually increasing storage requirements — the volume of medical images in the authority’s Picture Archive Communications System (PACS) alone is swelling at about 14 terabytes per year, Kirby says. So the authority is putting such information on EMC’s Centera content-addressed storage systems.

It also replicates all critical information across its Gigabit Ethernet wide-area network from its main data centre in Kelowna to a backup centre in Kamloops, some 200 kilometers away.

Interior Health will divide its stored data into four categories, ranging from data critical to patient care through information-critical and information-important to non-critical. The most important data will get the storage media that allows data to be recovered quickly and to the most recent recovery point. Less important data will go on cheaper media.

“The biggest thing was to match the storage requirements to the needs, to try and get better efficiency in terms of cost,” Kirby says.

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Grant Buckler
Grant Buckler
Freelance journalist specializing in information technology, telecommunications, energy & clean tech. Theatre-lover & trainee hobby farmer.

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