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By John Carter
Life expectancy all over the world is increasing, fueled by innovations in science, treatments, and technology. That’s a good thing, yet an increased lifespan brings some urgent challenges.
One of the top concerns for healthcare professionals is how to provide effective medical care for a diverse and ever-expanding population. As people live longer, their health needs often multiply, putting a strain on an already overburdened healthcare system.
How will the healthcare industry solve this growing problem? Many are looking to innovative technologies.
Break-through technology improves healthcare for all ages
Several of the technologies you and I take for granted today are already making life healthier for everyone — young and old alike. A heart rate monitor in a smart watch can alert the wearer of an immediate medical problem. And tele-medicine offers access to a doctors who can provide healthcare expertise quickly and cost-effectively.
A myriad of connected medical devices also help providers monitor stats of patients from their homes. Physiological data such as blood pressure, weight, electrocardiographic signals, or oxygen saturation can be transferred to the healthcare provider via tele-monitoring. Smart implants, such as pacemakers or glucose sensors, communicate data to smartphone apps, alerting the patient or physician immediately of any issues.
To manage it all, healthcare providers are transforming their data centers
All of these innovative technologies sound fantastic, but they are also causing some headaches for those in healthcare IT. To accommodate the growing demands of connected devices and new applications introduced daily, data centers are changing.
Some workloads are moving to the cloud or the edge of the network to achieve better performance, cost savings, and flexibility. Yet, IT admins cannot move some of their most important workloads due to technical, economic, security, or compliance reasons. For these workloads, healthcare organizations are looking to transform their data center infrastructure, allowing applications to run on premises more efficiently, cost effectively, and simply.
One such organization is Carante Groep, a non-profit collaborative healthcare organization in the Netherlands. The Carante Groep consists of 13 regional affiliates who provide care for more than 20,000 elderly, mentally disabled, and physically challenged people. The organization’s services range from weekly check-ins to 24/7 skilled care.
Required: a simpler, software-defined data center
Approximately 80% of Carante Groep’s workloads run on premises and 20% in the cloud, so they need a hybrid IT infrastructure that is powerful, flexible, secure – yet also cost effective. Caregivers at the Carante Groep require consistent access to medical records and treatment plans, and administrators must document every client interaction to ensure proper reporting to obtain ongoing funding. Additionally, the group must efficiently run a large, distributed organization—from email and desktop productivity tools to scheduling and payroll.
Traditionally, each affiliate under the Carante Groep umbrella had its own IT services. However, as the organization grew and required ever more advanced applications and services, Carante Groep wanted to centralize IT services to gain efficiencies. The existing corporate data center with traditional computational infrastructure no longer offered the degree of flexibility and high availability they needed, so they decided to build two new data centers.
Carante Groep determined that a software-defined data center would provide them with simpler, more agile IT, while still allowing them to respond to the diverse needs of their caregivers and clients. They also wanted a composable infrastructure because it allows them to easily virtualize not just compute, but also storage and networking. That means they can quickly switch workloads and stand up new workloads in minutes to meet their changing needs. This capability makes them more agile and lowers hardware costs, freeing up funds.
For example, Carante Groep increasingly uses e-learning systems and instructional streaming videos to educate caregivers. They also use Skype for video conferencing between caregivers and medical specialists who may be many miles from where the client resides. The Internet of Things (IoT) is another emerging requirement, with an increasing number of devices automatically monitoring and analyzing client conditions and needs in their homes.
IT simplicity, speed, and agility with HPE Synergy
For the foundation of their software-defined data center, Carante Groep choose HPE Synergy composable infrastructure because they needed to scale dynamically and efficiently. The powerful solution enables IT to compose fluid pools of physical and virtual compute, storage, and fabric resources into any configuration for any workload.
Carante Groep is currently implementing the new solution in a phased approach, temporarily sharing workloads with the organization’s legacy systems in a new colocation data center. The entire infrastructure is more than 99% virtualized and serves up about 2,000 virtual desktops (expected to grow to 4,000), providing caregivers and staff access everything from email to client medical records.
Because HPE Synergy is built from the ground up to be composable, it lets Carante Groep adopt new technologies quickly and scale as the business grows. Another benefit of running all its applications and workloads on HPE Synergy is the simplicity it brings. A couple of engineers manage the infrastructure, allowing others to concentrate on the applications and services their caregivers need. HPE Synergy also allows IT to meet caregiver needs faster. When a new application is ready, IT creates a server in just one click; then they can immediately load the new healthcare app.
Additionally, HPE Synergy makes it much easier for IT to take applications and workloads to the cloud when desired. Because everything is virtualized, workloads are not dependent on hardware, allowing IT admins to move applications into and out of the cloud without any reconfiguration.
Carante Groep uses HPE OneView to manage HPE Synergy’s fluid pools of resources, which gives them the dynamic flexibility they rely on. A single interface allows them to see the entire composable infrastructure, gaining insights into resource utilization and helping them forecast future capacity requirements.
With no IT limitations, caregivers can focus on the client and their health
As advances in science, medicine, and technology improve the life expectancy of people worldwide, software-defined data centers can provide the performance needed to power a complex and connected world. With a flexible and cost-effective infrastructure like HPE Synergy, medical professionals can serve clients and provide the highest quality healthcare possible, without IT limitations.
John Carter, Director, HPE Synergy and HPE BladeSystem at Hewlett Packard Enterprise, is a product expert helping to build HPE’s Composable Infrastructure ecosystem. He has worked across industries in sales and technical product management roles and is passionate about driving cutting edge solutions that make customers’ lives easier. To read more articles from John, visit the HPE Shifting to Software-Defined blogsite