Health Care in a FLASH- A Data Center Prescription for Success

Health Care in a FLASH- A Data Center Prescription for Success

By Erik Ottem, Director of Product Marketing, Violin Memory

Erik Ottem, Director of Product Marketing, Violin Memory

CIOs at leading health care organizations are challenged with steadily increasing data center demands brought on by strict regulatory compliance requirements, burgeoning electronic medical records (EMR) that increasingly include graphic and video files, expanded internal and patient communications, and in many organizations, complex research initiatives and trials. Combined with a steady influx of new patients and ever-growing needs for increased staffing, health care IT decision-makers are seeking reliable, high-performance and scalable solutions to meet current and future needs, not only from a medical operations perspective and insurance payments perspective, but from a patient care point of view.

With legacy storage solutions built around spinning disk, performance is limited and the ability to scale and future proof the data center in an innovative and ever-evolving market, such as health care, is bleak. Enter – > FLASH.

Speed = Better Care

The economics of the data center have changed. The health and care of patients is in the hands of medical professionals and the technology and devices they choose to implement, and as such it’s imperative that every aspect of the medical facility and infrastructure be optimized for reliable and fast performance.

As all-flash arrays become more powerful, data reduction technologies take hold and flash economics continue to improve overall, doctors and other medical professionals can rely on an equal balance of performance, capacity and scalability to create a robust data center architecture built to handle existing and future patient and system demands. For instance, virtual desktops allow physicians to have the same experience accessing patient data or lab results whether they are on rounds using a table, in the office on their laptop, or at home on their smart phone. This is enabled by flash storage, and is not practical on disk storage, due to performance concerns.

“Combined with a steady influx of new patients and ever-growing needs for increased staffing, health care IT decision-makers are seeking reliable, high-performance and scalable solutions to meet current and future needs”

Scale Down, Not Out

“Work smarter, not harder” – a phrase spoken often in the health care and storage worlds. Not only does Flash provide significant performance gains, including fast access to operational reports and Electronic Medical Records (EMR), it also offers ultra-low latency. In layman’s terms, all data processing commands and workloads perform at a much faster pace by eliminating “performance bottlenecks” created during the data retrieval process. Data MUST be available instantly in the health care market. While it may sound like a no-brainer, fast and reliable access can save lives.

Flash is evolving data center management and efficiency. Data center consolidation is enabled with flash storage since it can eliminate the need for caching, over-provisioning, and tier management. Flash storage provides the ability to not only simplify operations, but reduce costs at the same time by eliminating underused servers and software. The result is a smaller data center, better customer experience, less effort to manage at a lower cost.


HIPAA often prevents technological innovation within the health care vertical in the interest of health care patient records and personal privacy. This is a huge challenge. The No. 1 question that arises within the IT community around logistics of a massive overhaul to a flash environment is, “how do I protect my HIPAA sensitive data without crippling data center operations?”

Encryption provides protection for data by rendering it unusable if the data is somehow compromised. There are a couple of encryption: for data in motion, and data at rest. When transferring data between data centers you want to make sure if someone is snooping on your connection they cannot get usable information- that is data in motion. You also want to make sure if someone can access the data in your data center that there is no usable data there either- that is data at rest. Flash-optimized encryption protections for both in-flight and at rest data are available now.

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure

Another way to provide security is virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). While HIPAA makes access to sensitive materials a bit more difficult, VDI allows hospital personnel various remote access points to the network in a way that is both secure and consistent, while drastically streamlining the process. By using VDI, physicians, lab, nursing, imaging and others get access to the applications and data they need, but only what they need. The consistency, with which the data and applications are presented, regardless of device, makes VDI a great approach for medical workers on the move, while still maintaining security.

Transitioning the Data Center

Storage systems are typically the culprit behind poor performing IT infrastructures. Fine tuning your health care data center infrastructure and applications to perform at full potential with Flash can be a bit of a tricky order initially, but one that boasts enormous results.

Consider Flash Storage Platforms for health care IT and data center needs. From a performance standpoint, the flash storage platforms are the only all flash solutions available that optimize performance by eliminating latency spikes. All-flash storage platforms have an optimized flash architecture for consistent low latency, while also offering granular reduplication and compression and allowing for other applications on the same array including those that may not benefit from data reduction technology like databases.

Don’t let your storage system fall behind. With Flash deployments, experience the right combination of performance, reliability and scalability to drive day-to-day business operations, improve customer care and ultimately save lives.

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