New SAN heals Ballarat hospital's storage pain

Ballarat Base Hospital has implemented a storage area network package to help manage critical applications such as patient administration, radiology information and financial management systems.

Scott Edie, director of Ballarat Health Services, said the request for a storage and backup management solution went to the market a year ago.

"Principally we were after a storage solution that would have improved fault tolerance and disaster recovery for a number of large applications that we run."

The hospital had already bought virtualization technology from VMware and needed a SAN to help make it run efficiently.

Edie chose systems integrator Global Storage to supply the dual-site SAN and three-tiered storage system.

Based on a Commvault suite, it features an auto robotic tape library, SATA disk array and a Fibre Channel disk array with Fibre Channel fabric.

Edie said there were several reasons for the selection, one being that the integrator was a partner of VMware so it was able to provide training and services around the virtualization product.

"Another reason we chose Global Storage is that it wasn't the sort of company that tries to charge you for every single thing you do once you implement [one of its] solutions. After you buy from Global there is a partnership where it provides ongoing support and doesn't count the pennies every time you ask for something," he said.

"It also provides training, some of which was incorporated in the deal and some of which we paid additional money for."

Edie admitted there is a fair learning curve with SAN and virtualization technologies.

"But the initial training is not too demanding. We took a three-day course for the SAN and then a two- or three-day course for the Commvault suite. There are certainly more advanced levels of training that you can undertake, but my feeling is that we need to start small and work up to that," he said.

The newly deployed SAN at Ballarat Base Hospital currently handles about 8 terabytes of data, 1.5Tb of which is critical.

"We have not migrated everything over to the SAN yet. I'd say we'll be up to about 10 or 11 terabytes in the next year," Edie said.

"But of course the more finely we tune our policies and the more skilled in SAN operation we become, the more we will be able to optimize that. It's certainly not something you just put in and walk away from. Certainly with disaster recovery you have to actually develop procedures for every application which is ongoing work for us, but worthwhile."

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