Feb 08 2018

3 Tips to Make Healthcare Flash Array Deployments Run Smoothly

Need, apps and capacity should all be taken into account when considering solid-state drives.

Speed and reliability are two huge factors for healthcare IT teams, which often leads IT staff to search for their own reliable data center solutions.

“Hospitals tend to want to build their own datacenters," Pure Storage Vice President and CTO of Healthcare Vik Nagjee tells HITInfrastructure.com. “It happens all the time. Uptime is super important in healthcare; you can’t afford to have these systems go down.”

To solve many of these issues, healthcare IT teams are turning to flash arrays — or solid state drives that keep hardware cooler and drop maintenance costs. Many healthcare organizations are already finding that switching to flash arrays has much to offer: speeding electronic health record access for clinicians, cutting EHR downtime and bolstering backup, among other advantages, like streamlining IT staff tasks.

“Using flash, we didn’t eliminate any positions, but the 120 full-time IT employees that we have can do more during daylight hours, and there is more time for cross-training," Brookwood Baptist Health CTO John West tells HealthTech. "It gives storage specialists their life back.”

Deciding to go with a flash array option isn't a simple task, however. When choosing a flash array, organizations must weigh performance requirements against the need to limit spending, says W. Curtis Preston, a senior analyst at Storage Switzerland.

“The storage vendors are all doing different tweaks, and some are leveraging newer technology than others. Some are focusing more on performance and some more on cost savings,” Preston says.

Key Healthcare Flash Array Considerations

To ensure that your healthcare organization is choosing the right mix of flash array technologies to meet your IT and healthcare staff needs, Preston points out three details health IT teams, CIOs and chief procurement officers should factor into any storage purchasing decision:

  1. Custom apps: While an organization can make any storage solution work with the majority of applications, some vendors optimize their offerings to work well with certain electronic health record applications and backup and recovery options. It’s wise to ask vendors if they’ve done any custom work for their array.

  2. IOPS Capacity: The flash world is all about input/output per second, Preston says. “It’s the biggest mistake people make — buying the biggest capacity just because it’s the biggest.” Rather, organizations should check their applications and buy what they need, not what they think they might want.

  3. Actual Need: Many organizations assume they should go all-flash, but that’s not always the case, Preston says. There may be applications and data that are perfectly acceptable to put into traditional storage. “Yes, you can haul manure in a Maserati, but it’s a really expensive way to get things around,” Preston says.

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