Pivot3 hyperconverged VDI solution dispenses greater patient care for Southern New Hampshire Health Systems

Pivot3 hyperconverged VDI solution dispenses greater patient care for Southern New Hampshire Health Systems

About the customer

Southern New Hampshire Health Systems (SNHHS) is an award-winning medical facility nestled in the heart of the Nashua, New Hampshire. The facility has more than 20 campuses and serves an estimated 100,000 patients a year in the southern New Hampshire region. SNHHS has one of the largest physician networks in the region with more than 500 primary and specialty care providers, continuing its 125-year tradition of providing expert medical care, innovative health programs and preventative health resources to the community.

SNHHS is an industry leader in identifying and introducing new, advantageous technologies to healthcare IT environments. In order to digitize operations, improve customer, care and increase staff efficiencies, SNNH deployed virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) at a 300-bed facility, with plans to expand to other locations. VDI allows customers to lower costs and increase efficiencies for IT departments, while delivering more flexibility, data mobility and improved productivity for end users.

The challenge

The primary challenge facing the SNHHS IT team was the inability to deliver the high availability required to enable 24x7x365 access to virtual desktops and resources for all its end users – primarily administrative personnel, nurses and doctors. The hospital staff needs continuous access to multiple systems and medical applications, including electronic health records (EMRs), high resolution imaging, notepad, browsers, MS Office and more, as they care for patients and conduct day-to-day tasks, such as prescribing medications, triaging and diagnosing patient ailments.

This was a big task as the SNHHS IT team was responsible for more than 3,000 physical desktops and the terminal server implementation that was accessed externally by users and staff to access data within the organization when they are out of the office or working after hours.

The SNHHS IT team is charged with managing the critical data doctors use to make real-time decisions that can mean the difference between life and death. To make sure this data is readily available and accessible from multiple devices, the IT team needed a comprehensive, high performance, highly redundant, resilient, always-on solution that had the ability to span hundreds of desktops and multiple datacenters.

SNHHS also required a solution that allowed for data mobility. Staff continually move from patient to patient, and they needed a solution that would allow them to access their virtual desktops and sessions from any desktop in the hospital. In addition, as patients move departments (e.g., from the emergency room to ICU or clinical floors), their patient data needs to be available from any desktop location throughout the hospital.

The solution

Tymowicz quickly realized that he could transform the system into a strategic asset for SNHHS with Pivot3’s innovative architecture. Features such as Pivot3’s distributed scale-out architecture and patented Scalar Erasure Coding provided the performance, capacity efficiencies and resilience required by the hospital.

Using Pivot3 Hybrid nodes, Tymowicz and SNHHS built a highly available, resilient environment by architecting two identical datacenters. Each datacenter has vSTAC HCI Hybrid nodes and one 12TB data node in a cluster. All vSTAC nodes run vSTAC OS 7.4 and VMware vSphere 6.0 VMware Horizon View 6.2 is used to deliver desktop virtualization capabilities. Four F5 load balancers – two in each datacenter – route incoming requests to the datacenter with the most available bandwidth, processing capacity and storage IO resources. In addition, the redundancy inherent in two identical datacenters ensures medical staff at SNHHS have continuous access to vital patient data in the unlikely event of a datacenter outage. The architecture allows Active-Active load balancing configurations as well as Active-Passive configurations, helping simplify maintenance activities by simply shutting down the datacenter that needs maintenance. The F5 load balancers automatically route the traffic to the available datacenter, ensuring no disruption for users.

Roughly 200 Horizon View 6.2 desktops support the clinical applications needed by doctors and nurses in the main hospital and ER. Medical staff access the applications from a wireless, mobile cart – referred to as Computers on Wheels, or COWs -- that can move from area to area in the hospital. Doctors access their individual desktop from any wireless cart with a simple, single sign-on (SSO) login procedure enabled by digital card readers, greatly simplifying and accelerating the process of accessing patient data, test results, and notes from other practitioners. Additionally, with sophisticated session management from HealthCast Solutions, the practitioners can access their live sessions as they move from location to location, boosting their productivity and accuracy significantly.

In 2017, SNHHS plans to add three vSTAC all-flash hyperconverged nodes to their environment to accelerate access time-to-patient data. SNHHS expects a 4x improvement in access times with the all-flash nodes.

Pivot3's interoperability with existing platforms and flexibility to deploy on multiple form factors allow SNHHS to leverage existing IT assets alongside new investments in modernizing their infrastructure as they scale to meet growing business needs.

The results

Pivot3 HCI nodes significantly reduced the complexity of the virtual desktop environment. What used to take weeks, if not months, can now be accomplished in a matter of hours. After a Pivot3 node is plugged in, the management software is installed and it seamlessly integrates into the existing cluster; it does the ESX and storage layering and helps in the recreation of all LUNs and data storage. The medical staff at SNHHS now has the ability to access patient and other medical data from any terminal – or wireless cart - in the facility, which streamlines patient care and improves the overall experience.

From an IT perspective, the Pivot3 solution allowed the team to be extremely dynamic and efficient. High availability was also a prime consideration in SNHHS’s selection of Pivot3. After deploying a second data center, the team has eliminated scheduled downtime for maintenance and firmware updates.

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