NHS Trust expands storage with EMC for better patient care

By Sooraj Shah
19 Jan 2012 View Comments
A nurse using electronic patient records at a hospital

St. Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust has implemented two EMC Symmetrix VMAX systems as part of a five-year storage infrastructure overhaul.

The refresh was needed because of an increasing number of patients and increased patient data resulting in data storage requirements going up from 10 terabytes to 40 terabytes in the last three years.

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The Trust moved to a digital records system at the end of 2010 and the plan is for it to continue to digitise its paper processes.

Phil Corrin, deputy CIO at the Trust, explained that the new systems were needed because the mid-range HP storage system that was implemented five years ago had come to the end of its life.

The existing HP system lacked storage capacity and was too slow.

"The HP system was suffering from poor performance, which impacted the level of care. We needed to buy more storage and we required an end-to-end monitoring tool," he said.

Corrin said that EMC was selected by the Trust after an open tendering process. Several manufacturers were interested, including HP, which was offering a higher spec system.

"We selected EMC because its system can tier the storage and prioritise critical information on enterprise flash drives, while non-critical data can be kept on low-cost storage," he said.

Comparing the new EMC system to the old HP system, he said it was more reliable.

"Previously, disk latency was very high for read-and write requests sent to disks. Applications had 20-millisecond latency before a response was received from the HP array and end users' requests were at risk of timing out," said Corrin.

"With EMC, the average has been halved and is now under 10 milliseconds at all times, allowing critical systems to respond faster to users," he added.

Corrin emphasised that cost was also a factor, but that the Trust continues to pay the same amount for storage as it previously did, but with updated systems that have additional functions.

The migration process took 12 weeks and the new systems were fully implemented by September 2011.

Corrin said that the EMC systems can now enable the Trust to complete other work in the future, including patient archiving systems.

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