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St. Helens and Knowsley NHS trust signs £1.3m storage deal

Kathleen Hall

St. Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust has signed a £1.3m deal with EMC Symmetrix as part of its five-year plan to overhaul its storage infrastructure.

The trust signed the deal in December for EMC Symmetrix VMAX to provide a cloud-based storage infrastructure. The deal will provide medical professionals at the trust with rapid access to patient data, including X-rays, medical records and clinical scans. The trust’s informatics service supports 14,000 users.

The decision for a new storage area network was signed to tackle slow file access at peak times, said Phil Corrin, deputy CIO at St. Helens & Knowsley Health Informatics. “The real benefit is that patient reporting has improved due to the faster access to data,” said Corrin. The move involved the migration of 140 servers, along with a number of really big applications for health records, and file systems, he said.

Immediate access to information is key to the hospital’s drive to go paperless. “If a doctor can’t access the medical history [electronically] they can’t consult with a patient,” said Corrin.

If we lose the hardware platform server or software application we can failover and have access to replicated information in two minutes.

The trust can now tier data depending on its importance. This means that non-critical information can be stored on low-cost storage, and high priority information on Enterprise Flash Drives. The time it takes to back-up information has been reduced by up to 70%.

With its two hospitals already paper-free, the trust found that its digital storage requirements had increased from 10TB to 40TB in just three years. It expects data to grow by 20% over the next year.

Applications previously had a 20-millisecond latency before a response was received from the HP arrays, resulting in end-users’ requests timing-out. The latency has been halved.

The FAST VP technology, used by a wide range of applications including SQL servers, Exchange, and VMware, allows the trust to tier its storage and prioritise critical information for the more powerful servers, while non-urgent data is stored in less resource-intensive arrays.


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