Resources, relationships, and results: How a children’s hospital fixed its disaster recovery plan

When faced with bad choices, it’s sometimes easier to just do nothing, even if that inaction can lead to a new round of issues.

Such was the situation for a children’s hospital in one U.S. city. The hospital had no disaster recovery (DR), and it was stuck with an impractical plan from a consultant – backup hardware in a building across the street.

That plan struck out because of its sheer disregard for good DR practices. For one, a natural disaster affecting the hospital – a hurricane that brings flooding, for example — would almost certainly disturb the building across the street, too. Both buildings were also on the same network, so a failure would take both servers down. That was a clear violation of good DR practices, especially in health care, where a failure to access electronic medical records can delay doctors from administering proper care and harm patients.

children's hospital

Such an impractical plan had zero traction: IT didn’t like the strategy, and the hospital never made room in the budget for it. So the proposal languished in folders, and the hospital was left without a DR.

Presenting a realistic DR option

The hospital already had a relationship with SHI, and this partnership sparked conversations about a DR plan. An open dialogue built trust, and together they concluded that what the hospital needed was a new and realistic DR/HA (high availability) plan – a data center in a different city or region of the country. The hospital and SHI worked together to craft an improved and practical DR/HA plan featuring new hardware and colocation.

But an unexpected bonus emerged during these conversations. There was another resource the hospital had in its toolkit. The hospital was using VMware for some virtualization, and SHI pointed out that the hospital could better leverage these existing assets by integrating them into a new DR/HA strategy. SHI moved some of the hospital’s VMware licensing to an Enterprise Agreement while straightening out some improper configurations, which resulted in a savings of roughly $600,000.

This improved virtualization gave the hospital another component of a DR plan, but the hospital, a longtime EMC shop, also needed some hardware to build out its DR strategy. The hospital chose to purchase new EMC equipment with flash storage, and moved this new hardware to a DR facility that was equipped to handle and store the data.

What started as a DR project rippled into an improved virtualization and production environment, and enhanced security practices as well.

The smart choice? Branch out

A successful DR plan is a bit opaque – it’s an IT plan you hope to never need. But having a realistic and useful DR strategy in place is an important component of IT planning.

Now, this children’s hospital has a DR/HA solution that provides true security – it’s not across the street, for one, and it’s designed with better virtualization. Plus, the hospital better utilizes its assets, and its entire IT environment is stronger. Three R’s tell the whole story — a strong Relationship with a trusted partner providing quality Resources — both brain power and technology — led to positive Results.

When faced with a poor set of choices, staying in neutral is probably the easiest course of action. But starting fresh with a new set of eyes that can deliver new ideas and more choices can often present a smart path forward.

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