The Plymouth Healthcare Community claims £100,000 worth of capital investment savings by deploying a new data storage solution to ensure full backup of its 18 terabyte data centre.

The community estimates that its Falcon IPStor virtualisation platform has reduced labour costs and time by the equivalent of one storage administrator, while the flexibility of the storage system has directly saved £100,000 of capital investment through the redeployment of existing equipment and the capability to use cheaper storage.

The Plymouth Healthcare Community comprises Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust, Plymouth Teaching Primary Care Trust and around 50 GP practices and provides services to 460,000 people.

Rob Harder, ICT infrastructure manager at Plymouth ICT Shared Service, said: “The IPStor virtualisation platform has given us the flexibility to deliver a cost effective data storage solution across our enterprise, enabling us to mix our limited capacity, high performing and relatively expensive disk arrays, with our lower-end, inexpensive disk arrays in a highly resilient and high availability environment.”

IPStor will provide storage to 120 virtual machines and 14 physical servers protecting all the NHS community’s data against business disruption and simplifying the addition of new storage to cope with data growth.

The system will use tiered storage where possible to simultaneously reduce the amount of storage administrator time needed to manage the infrastructure by the equivalent of one person, freeing up time to be allocated to other projects.

A virtual and service-enabled fibre channel storage area network now operates across the single site, replacing direct-attached storage. The community’s existing infrastructure is notably heterogeneous, and includes storage arrays from Nexsan, Apple and HP; application servers from HP; and both Windows Server 2003 and VMware ESX 3.0.1 operating systems. All of these are subsumed into the IPStor solution.

Harder added: “Management and support overheads of our previous traditional storage area network have been reduced and routine maintenance access has greatly improved. Like our virtual server infrastructure, we have quickly become very reliant on the flexibility and capability that the IPStor platform can deliver.”

Using Synchronous Mirroring, all 18TB of data will be mirrored to give a total of 36TB of data managed by the solution. Two IPStor servers mirror data to each other to provide the storage stability.

In the event of a disk failure, normal service is provided by the unaffected mirror, and mirroring resumes when the defective disk has been replaced.

Andy Blofield, head of technology at Plymouth ICT Shared Service added: “The IPStor virtualisation platform implementation coupled with our investment in server virtualisation has provided a robust and scaleable architecture upon which we are now able to deliver our current operational services whilst implementing integrated national and local best of breed clinical and business applications.”

The IPStor suite also includes a module called TimeMark, which ensures the transactional consistency for the community’s Oracle, SQL and Exchange applications, and another named HotZone which automatically re-maps data from frequently used areas of disks to higher performance storage devices in the infrastructure.

The IPStor Service Enabler option also provides the community with a non-intrusive method for the adoption of existing data logical unit numbers into the IPStor storage environment with minimal downtime, without loss of data, and without needing to perform resource intensive copy jobs.

The solution at Plymouth was delivered in conjunction with FalconStor solution provider partner Cristie Data Products.




Joe Fernandez