Unification: The new infrastructure imperative

How IT teams can transition from tool provider to business partner.

What is the best way to run your IT infrastructure? Brian Young, infrastructure manager at Adena Health System, sums it up in one word: unification. Not only within your infrastructure team, not only between IT and business, but also across your technology platform.

“Our senior leadership has told us that this is the most transparent IT has ever been,” says Young, one of a team of five IT professionals responsible for a recent infrastructure transformation at Adena Health System, an award-winning medical center spanning 17 regional sites in south-central Ohio.

“IT understands the business from end to end and we’re working as one cohesive team to drive the business forward,” says Young.

“Unification” is new at Adena Health System. Just six years ago, IT was in the precarious position of maintaining an aging, multi-vendor infrastructure prone to outages and simply unable to support many of the leading-edge applications medical professionals requested. IT teams operated as separate silos and were viewed as tool providers as opposed to business partners.

Today the picture is quite different. After kick-starting its IT transformation with a network upgrade to Cisco® Catalyst® 6500 and Cisco Nexus® 7000 Series switches, Adena Health System moved forward with a full Cisco data center implementation based on the Intel® Xeon® processor-based Cisco Unified Computing System™ (Cisco UCS®). The result is a powerful, new foundation that includes:

  • More than 300 Cisco UCS® blade servers
  • An easy-to-manage Cisco VoIP phone network
  • Three Cisco TelePresence® rooms supplemented by five mobile videoconferencing carts
  • Cisco UCS Manager for simplified network management

“The Cisco UCS server platform was an easy choice,” says Young, noting that ASIC on UCS is a key selling point for its ability to handle higher memory loads with no performance loss. “I’ve always had great trust in what Cisco and Intel bring to the table because it works,” he says.

Since moving its data center to the new platform, Adena Health System has:

  • Eliminated 95 percent of its server footprint, leading to a $200,000 per year savings in power and cooling costs
  • Significantly reduced network downtime while gaining an overall six- to-seven-fold performance boost

“Cisco UCS has brought stability to our foundation, allowing us to start playing catch-up on the application side,” says Young. The move has also brought the infrastructure team together as one cohesive unit responsible for the network, servers, storage, and voice.

A foundation for change
For medical staff, the unified infrastructure is providing consistent, high-quality access to the information, services, and capabilities required to deliver world-class patient care. The platform currently:

  • Supports some 130 applications
  • Records critical patient data
  • Stores real-time video for security purposes
  • Enables telemedicine, a first for Adena Health System

“Access to high-speed videoconferencing allows our physicians to work with experts who are miles away in Columbus,” explains Young. “It provides the dual benefit of both educating and allowing them to make better decisions so we can ensure we are transferring the right patients for the right reasons.”

Videoconferencing rooms in multiple facilities are bringing employees together for administrative meetings, freeing managers from the risk and cost associated with travel on treacherous rural roads. Moving forward, video will play an important role in Adena Health System’s evolving stroke network by enabling neurologists to treat patients remotely.

On the phone system side, VoIP technology means no more lost calls. At one time, Adena Health System’s antiquated PBX system was missing as many as 30 percent of calls, a scenario that isn’t acceptable when your nearest competitor is just down the street, says Young. “We worked closely with staff, nursing, and leadership to resolve those business issues, which in turn has led to better outcomes, higher revenue streams, and happier customers.”

“The fact that we’ve completed so much in such a short time is a testament to how well the technology works together,” he adds. “It was time for us to take a step back, consolidate, virtualize, and align our IT teams. Now IT is part of the overall business vision and it shows.”

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To discover first hand how Cisco TelePresence brings people together, schedule your free TelePresence meeting at: www.ciscomeetingonus.com.

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