Wednesday 4 November 2009

Computer Technology Review: Homecare Homebase deploys DataCore storage virtualization solutions

Homecare Homebase [HCHB] deploys DataCore storage virtualization solutions
...HCHB empowers the homecare and hospice industry to be more effective in providing healthcare to patients. Currently 4,375 office workers and over 11,000 field agents rely on applications running on HCHB’s IT systems infrastructure. Everything HCHB customers do is mobile and all of the applications HCHB offers these agents in the homecare industry are both mobile and real-time.

“The combination of the VMware platform along with the DataCore SAN has really given us a lot of flexibility to more rapidly deploy consistent images of systems – especially in the Citrix farm,” explained Chris Kane, director of technical operations, Homecare Homebase. “In addition, the VMware-DataCore combination has given us much improved VMotion capability – where the SAN enables us to do maintenance on the host in the middle of the day, if we have to.”

...“We quickly outgrew the storage we had – both in terms of the amount of space presented by those units as well as the performance of those units,” noted Kane.HCHB has a big Microsoft SQL Server shop and tended to back-up its customer information using these snap units at each site to replicate for disaster recovery purposes. According to Kane, the units were just not able to keep up with the back-up planning and also the synchronization of the data. “The storage we had before DataCore became troublesome,” commented Kane. “We were in desperate need, not only of space, but also of reliable storage.”

...On its own, HCHB looked at EqualLogic from Dell, LeftHand from HP, as well as EMC and NetApp.Noted Kane, “The DataCore SAN solution suits our IT administrative style better than the other solutions we saw. The more we looked at traditional SAN solutions – encompassing hardware, software and professional services – for us, these weren’t the type of solutions that we have typically dealt with. We have a lot of skilled technology people in house and we like to be able to get our hands on every piece of technology we bring in. The fact that DataCore is Windows-based gives us a little more control – particularly being able to manage the hardware ourselves. Moreover, DataCore gave us a full, high availability solution. Not to mention that DataCore is very competitive price-wise – so all of this made DataCore the best choice for us.”

...Virtualizing the Citrix environment with VMware and DataCore running in tandem has provided a real, tangible benefit in terms of system maintenance and administration. Before – with the physical, Citrix environment, the IT team at HCHB was very limited in terms of what they could do with those systems during the working day.

“Just the patch management aspect of keeping up with all the physical boxes has been greatly improved in the virtual environment because we can deploy patch templates versus having to constantly update from Microsoft or other vendors,” added Kane.With the SAN in place, the virtual environment at HCHB has delivered real benefits to customers and system administrators alike. These benefits are a direct result of the improvements made possible through these new virtualization capabilities. For instance, HCHB as a whole is able to roll out new services more rapidly and consistently. The current databases and applications that HCHB uses internally to run its business, such as file servers (documentation that support internal needs) or Microsoft Office Sharepoint (that supports customers), have benefited, either directly or indirectly, from the VMware virtual infrastructure and the DataCore storage virtualization SAN.

...“It has been very rapid growth for us recently,” summarized Kane. “And I am very, very happy with the performance we are getting both out of VMware and the DataCore SAN at this point. The SAN has made a world of difference to us. There were many choices for a SAN – from a variety of SAN vendors. For us, DataCore was the right fit. DataCore gives us the ability to select and maintain the hardware of our own choice. It gives us the ability to have a fully redundant, highly available SAN – not just at the controller-level, but at the storage-level itself. That, combined with the price point DataCore’s portable SAN software offers – even when having to purchase hardware and licensing – is still much more effective than anything else we found on the market.”

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