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Oakwood Healthcare System Relies on Cisco-Based Storage Area Network for Mission-Critical Data and Applications


June 15, 2006

Healthcare company manages rapid data growth and reduces storage management costs

SAN JOSE, Calif., - Cisco Systems ® today announced that Oakwood Healthcare System, which serves over a million people in 35 communities with four acute-care hospitals and more than 40 primary or specialty care facilities, has deployed a storage area network (SAN) based on Cisco MDS 9509 Multilayer Directors and Cisco MDS 9216i Multilayer Fabric Switches.

Headquartered in Dearborn, Michigan, the staff at Oakwood Healthcare System is dedicated to delivering exceptional healthcare and customer service. That care is dependent in part on the data storage infrastructure which supports Oakwood’s mission-critical applications and data. When the Oakwood data storage team decided to expand and upgrade their SAN, which was based on small 8-port fabric switches, they thoroughly researched the major switch vendors to determine which had the best features and functionality for their needs.

“We needed to aim for zero downtime 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for mission critical systems, but some vendors had single points of failure in their designs that could possibly cause downtime,” said Brian Perlstein, technical architect at Oakwood. “In addition, Cisco storage switches use commands that are similar to the Cisco IOS® Software we use throughout our hospital network. That would make it easy to cross-train network managers and help to simplify our SAN management.”

After due diligence, Oakwood selected two Cisco MDS 9509s to deploy in a dual fabric core design that is designed to prevent any single point of failure due to redundancy in the directors and in the dual fabric design, helping to provide the high availability Oakwood needs for the 45 terabytes of data managed by the storage team. “Downtime translates to thousands of dollars per minute for a healthcare organization like ours,” says Perlstein. “The high availability of the Cisco directors and the redundancy of the SAN design allow the Oakwood staff to pull up the information they need, anytime and anywhere, without knowing or caring where it’s stored.”

The new SAN is more cost-effective, easier to manage, and helps Oakwood meet HIPAA (Healthcare Information Portability and Accountability Act) mandated regulations that govern the storage, access, and protection of patient data. The storage team consolidated storage from remote locations to the new SAN in their central data center and consolidated servers as well, which has helped to control both capital costs and operating costs. “Cisco helped us reduce our costs by giving us the tools we needed to manage our storage tasks and our storage resources much more efficiently,” Perlstein said.

Oakwood next plans to extend its SAN and mirror data to a disaster recovery (DR) site to provide even greater data safeguards, using the Fibre Channel over IP capability of the Cisco MDS 9216i Multilayer Fabric Switches.

Ultimately, the most important benefit Oakwood has realized from the SAN is providing even more reliable and cost-effective access to the data that is so critical to patient care. “Our mission is to provide the best possible healthcare to our patients, and the SAN helps us do that,” Perlstein said. “Now staff can pull up the information they need, anytime and anywhere, without knowing or caring where it’s stored.”
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