The Business Challenge
The Kantonsspital Graubünden offers a wide range of medical and surgical treatments in over 33 different disciplines. The hospital owes its excellent reputation to the quality of its patient care. Every day, highly skilled doctors and nursing staff dedicate themselves to the well-being of patients. In addition, the various care disciplines work very closely together to maximize treatment success.
However, medical excellence can only be achieved if all everyday processes are optimally organized. The hospital is also considered a pioneer in this field and has won the Swiss Lean Hospital Award 2017, among other prizes.
Digital technologies play a key role in the further development of work processes at the hospital. “Today, we have to ensure that all data and information on a patient can be retrieved quickly and reliably from any location,” says Michele Donnicola, Head of the ICT Infrastructure Department at the Kantonsspital Graubünden. “Whether on the ward, in the treatment rooms or in the administration offices, a large part of our work processes is now dependent on IT support. In the worst case, if critical systems fail, important operations have to be postponed, and valuable time for patients is lost.”
In recent years, the hospital has strategically developed its central IT infrastructure in recent years. Two high-performance computer centers have been up, one on the campus and another in the town of Chur. Almost 400 applications are now running there for the approximately 2,000 IT users. Most of the 500 servers are now virtualized and run on VMware vSphere.
“As we were expanding and virtualizing our IT, we discovered that the existing backup software could no longer keep pace with the increased requirements,” reports Donnicola. “We were therefore looking for a solution to reliably secure the numerous workloads and efficiently manage the growing volumes of data.
The Veeam Solution
The Kantonsspital Graubünden decided to use Veeam Availability Suite in order to create optimal conditions for efficient and fail-safe hospital operations. “An important reason in our purchase of Veeam is that it not only offers comprehensive support for VMware vSphere, but it also works perfectly with our storage infrastructure from HPE,” says Donnicola.
The VMware environment at the hospital is now configured as vSphere Metro Storage Cluster. This allows the application load to be flexibly distributed between the two data centers. All productive data from the virtual machines is stored on HPE 3PAR storage systems and permanently mirrored between the two locations. “The Veeam solution fits seamlessly into this architecture and enables us to create backups directly from storage snapshots of the 3PAR systems,” explains Donnicola. “We always back up the data from the secondary storage array so as not to burden the production environment at all. It also minimizes data traffic between the two sites.” If the need arises, Veeam’s direct integration with HPE 3PAR also enables the recovery of single files or even entire VMs from storage snapshots in a matter of minutes by leveraging Veeam Explorer for Storage Snapshots.
If a virtual machine fails, the IT department can use Veeam’s Instant VM Recovery technology for rapid recovery. This allows the VM to be restarted immediately from the backup. For Donnicola, this is one of the biggest advantages of the new solution: “A conventional restore would mean a downtime of one to three hours. But today, every VM is online again within five minutes - no matter how big the machine is.”
The IT department can now prevent system failures from having a long-term effect on hospital operations. A failed Windows update, for example, recently paralyzed a middleware server and reduced the performance of the hospital information system by 50 percent in the short term. With the Veeam solution, the system could be restarted immediately, and users were instantly provided with full performance again.
Veeam Availability Suite also helps the IT department minimize the risk of data loss. Whether digital dictation software recordings or vital data collected in intensive care, administrators can back up data at very short intervals and restore it quickly when needed. Veeam Explorer for Microsoft SQL Server, for example, enables point-intime recovery of SQL databases to help better maintain low recovery time objectives (RTOs). “This ensures, among other things, that the vital data collected from our patients is reliably available at all times,” says Donnicola. “The Veeam technology also reduces the storage requirements and backup times of our databases because we no longer have to back up complete SQL dumps.”
The recovery of e-mails, mailboxes and other application objects in the Microsoft Exchange environment has also been significantly accelerated. With just a few clicks, helpdesk staff can make accidentally deleted messages available again without having to restore the entire Exchange server.
According to Donnicola, the simplified troubleshooting and the continuous monitoring of the virtual infrastructure are further major benefits of the Veeam solution: “If, for example, a VM cannot be started after an update, we use Veeam DataLabs to test the machine in an isolated environment and identify the error. Veeam ONE also provides us with a truly powerful monitoring and analytics tool for our virtual environment.”
Veeam ONE, which is an important part of Veeam Availability Suite, provides the IT team with comprehensive insight into the state of their vSphere environment and the availability and performance of individual workloads. “This enables us to proactively respond to performance bottlenecks before they occur,” says Donnicola. “The infrastructure utilization reports also help us anticipate future IT investments.”
Donnicola believes that the Kantonsspital Graubünden is well positioned for the challenges of the future. “The degree of digitization of our processes will continue to increase over the next few years — not only within the organization, but also in cooperation with established physicians and other institutions. Veeam helps us to make all the applications and data we need easily and securely accessible at all times.”
High availability of applications and patient data
With Veeam Availability Suite, the Kantonsspital Graubünden ensures that doctors, nursing staff and administrative employees have reliable, around-the-clock access to almost 400 IT applications. The Veeam solution seamlessly integrates with VMware’s virtualization infrastructure and HPE’s storage solutions.
Recovery of IT applications in minutes instead of hours
Previously, if an IT system failed, it often took up to three hours for the application to be available again. With Veeam Instant VM Recovery, virtual machines can be restarted within minutes directly from the backup.
Comprehensive transparency and simplified investment planning
Real-time monitoring and a variety of reporting options provide those responsible with detailed insights into the utilization and status of the IT infrastructure. This allows them to react proactively before hospital outages and disruptions occur. In addition, the information obtained enables IT investments to be planned in line with requirements.