Virtualization helps I-MED Network reduce data centre footprint

Medical imaging firm consolidated three data centres down to two in June 2014

A virtualization offering has helped medical diagnostics imaging firm I-MED Network reduce three data centres down to two in June this year, leading to cost and energy savings.

The organisation runs 200 diagnostic imaging clinics across the country, with 4500 staff performing more than 4.5 million patient examinations every year. Diagnostic imaging is used to identify and treat illnesses through early detection.

I-MED Network's general manager of operations, Bruce Potts, told CIO Australia that moving to virtual servers allowed the organisation to reduce its data centre footprint, having consolidated three data centres down to two in June 2014.

“Virtualization has allowed us to move applications across data centres fairly seamlessly because we can switch one virtual server off in one facility and switch another [server] on in the other data centre,” he said.

“We don’t pay as much to our data centre operators to host racks and we use less energy.”

I-MED Network uses a co-location facility in Sydney and an in-house data centre in Melbourne. However, there are no immediate plans to ditch the data centres for cloud computing.

“We want to keep the geographically dispersed [data centre] redundancy for disaster recovery and business continuity. We know exactly where the data is. There are lots of regulations around offshoring of health data,” said Potts.

I-MED uses a VMware virtualized server environment.

“We began to migrate a lot of applications that were based on physical servers onto the virtualized server environment 18 months ago. We’re redoing all of our main operational systems at the moment and moving these systems into a virtualized server environment,” he said.

According to Potts, the organisation has experienced a number of benefits from using a virtualized server environment.

“The time to provision the servers is much shorter. If you have to procure new hardware and you want to deploy an application, that takes a long time. Allocating some central processing units [CPUs] and memory out of the virtual environment is a lot quicker,” he said.

“High availability is important and we get much better availability in a virtualized environment. If utilisation of some of our applications goes through the roof than we can add more CPUs or memory to beef it up.”

In addition, it runs an external virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI).

Potts explained that the VDI infrastructure is only used for external access to the firm’s network. For example, if a staff member needs to log in afterhours, they use the VMware VDI.

“VDI is really good for remote access to a lot of our Windows based applications from an iPhone or iPad running outside of the network,” he said.

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

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