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Storage and back-up of vital importance

Published on 19/12/2014 in Customer Stories

Storage and back-up of vital importance

With the fusion of two hospital networks to create the hospital group EpiCURA, a new data-storage strategy became necessary. Proximus devised a secure environment with good availability based on NetApp technology.

Created by the merger of two hospital groups (RMHS & CHHF), EpiCURA now includes three hospitals and four specialized centres. Its mission? To combine good quality medicine, care services, state-of-the-art technology and a friendly atmosphere. Today, with 875 beds, EpiCURA is expanding rapidly. Major renovation work is being carried out to provide our dynamic team with even more efficient care facilities. This amalgamation is part of the rationalization of hospital care initiated by Minister Rudy Demotte in 2006. The objective? To limit the competition between local hospitals and to offer comprehensive medical care to all of the population. As a first step, Proximus developed a WAN to link the sites in Ath, Baudour, Hornu, Frameries, Beloeil, Dour and Boussu. Parallel to this, the hospital group’s IT team assessed its new requirements in terms of storage.

Old clusters on new infrastructure
“The storage environment for the hospital in Baudour needed to be replaced and there was already a storage project underway in Hornu,” says Bruno Liénard, CIO at EpiCURA. “We used the opportunity to immediately provide the whole group with new storage and simultaneously develop a disasterrecovery solution.” Proximus was responsible for the new environment, based on the NetApp MetroCluster architecture. In practice, the three old clusters were consolidated on the new infrastructure, constructed at the Baudour and Hornu sites. The two sites are linked through a double 4 Gbps DWDM connection. “We researched the work we would need to carry out – and what it would cost – in order to continue maintaining the current situation. This demonstrated that the new solution was the most attractive option in the long term. We now have an environment that will last for a long time.”

Undisrupted service
For EpiCURA, the availability of the systems and data is very important. At a hospital, ICT can sometimes literally be a matter of life and death.Via MetroCluster, the data replication at EpiCURA takes place through two datacenters, with an additional crossover backup between the two sites. “The data is always available,” says Bruno Liénard. “If there is a problem somewhere, the system automatically switches to the other datacenters, without any human intervention and without any disruption to use of the applications or reduction in the level of service.” At the same time, EpiCURA has achieved a great cost saving with the new environment. There are fewer maintenance costs and EpiCURA has a maintenance contract at a fi xed price for the coming eight years.

Volume savings
And that’s not all. “Thanks to the high quality of the current technology for deduplication, we can easily postpone investment in additional disk space for two years,” Liénard continues. “The new environment allows us to exercise better control over the growth in data volumes.” Today, EpiCURA has a net data volume of around 125 TB, with a further 127 TB in back-up. “We have achieved a volume saving of 20 to 30%. At some departments it’s as high as 35%.” The compression of the data takes place live, but this does not impact on the response time for users. “The new environment will take us to 2020,” Liénard concludes. “This gives us more than enough time to prepare for our next steps in terms of storage.”

Business benefits
  • Optimization of the storage infrastructure
  • Guarantee of security and availability of the data
  • Reduced costs and maintenance
  • Improved performance and use of data disks
About Centre Hospitalier EpiCURA

The EpiCURA hospital centre employs 450 doctors and over 2,500 members of staff spread across seven sites in the Ath and Borinage region. The social headquarters is located in Baudour, the administrative headquarters in Hornu.

Bruno Liénard began his career as a software design engineer at Alcatel-Lucent. He then worked for a long time at ICT service provider IT-Optics. In 2012, he became head of the new ICT team at EpiCURA. The team has 27 members.


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