IBM Systems and Technology HealthcareCase Study Medical University of South Carolina Alleviating performance problems with IBM System x and BladeCenter solutions The Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) started in 1824 as a Overview small private medical school in Charleston. Since then, it has grown into a top public health sciences center, with a 700-bed teaching hospital The need (MUSC Health) and a comprehensive academic institution that trains In its ongoing commitment to delivering students in medicine, nursing, pharmacy, dental medicine and other highly reliable IT services, MUSC needed to make a number of IT infrastructure disciplines. The university graduates more than 2,500 healthcare profes- investments—with a view to both improv- sionals each year. ing IT performance and reducing costs. The solution MUSC Health is highly regarded in a number of medical specialties, including neurosciences, cancer care, transplants, digestive disorders, MUSC implemented IBM System x® 3850 X5 and IBM BladeCenter® HX5 pediatric medicine, cardiovascular care, musculoskeletal disorders and servers with efficient Intel® Xeon® respiratory medicine. The institution was named one of “America’s processors across multiple clinical Best Hospitals” in 2009 by U.S. News & World Report. environments, while also migrating from UNIX-based systems to Linux. The IT department of the organization is equally impressive, supporting The beneﬁt approximately 15,000 students, faculty and staff, and providing the IT The IBM solution eliminates a clinical and services required to support more than one million patient encounters ﬁnancial transaction backlog, supports each year. better patient care through real-time information access, and accommodates massive growth while reducing costs. “We’re here to serve the medical community, and the end result of what we do is patient care.” says Jack Hoffman, team leader for UNIX systems at MUSC. “If the IT systems aren’t doing their jobs, that means the med- ical staff can’t do their jobs. That’s how we look at it.” Alleviating performance headaches As part of the organization’s ongoing commitment to delivering highly reliable IT services, MUSC recently made a number of IT infrastructure investments—with a view to both improving IT performance and reduc- ing costs. Hoffman says these projects started on the UNIX side of the data center with the deployment of a more robust server infrastructure to support MUSC’s massive Cloverleaf implementation.
IBM Systems and Technology HealthcareCase Study “Cloverleaf is basically a traffic cop for ﬁnancial and clinical transactions, from patient registration and billing to lab work,” Hoffman explains. “For us to be able to “This single environment handles all those transactions, interfacing have better technology with Oasis, Epic, McKesson, Practice Partner and Keene. Over the course of the day, it’s taking hundreds of thousands of transactions.” and have it at a better price—you can’t get MUSC had been running Cloverleaf on a handful of UNIX-based sys- any better than that.” tems but was plagued with ongoing performance problems. Hoffman says the systems were running at 99 percent utilization around the clock, but transactions were still backing up by the thousands. It was a major —Jack Hoffman, team leader for UNIX sys- tems, Medical University of South Carolina problem for Hoffman’s team, which couldn’t add new interfaces or other- wise grow the system without further impact to system performance. Upgrading the existing hardware seemed like the smoothest course of action initially. Says Hoffman, “We were looking to replace those machines with some larger UNIX-based systems, but what we discovered is those systems were not suitable for the single-thread architecture of the Cloverleaf application.” At this point, Hoffman’s team began researching infrastructure alternatives that would alleviate the transaction backlog. Making the move to Linux on System x MUSC evaluated IBM, Dell, HP and others, visiting brieﬁng centers and running demo equipment onsite before deciding on the IBM System x 3850 X5 platform. Working with IBM Premier Business Partner Dynamix Group, MUSC procured two x3850 X5 servers, delivered with energy-efficient Intel Xeon processors. In the process of implementing those servers, MUSC migrated from the UNIX operating system to Linux. “The performance we got out of those two boxes was incredible,” Hoffman reports. “Our utilization went from 99 percent to about 2 percent.” And Hoffman says the transaction backlog has disappeared, leaving the door wide open for expansion. “This environment is going to continue to grow,” he says, “but we’re conﬁdent that we’ve got what we need for the next three to ﬁve years.” Extending the success of System x Shortly after migrating the Cloverleaf application to System x, MUSC embarked on a second project to refresh the McKesson server environ- ment, which supports in-patient applications. Based on the performance results the team saw from the x3850 X5 in the Cloverleaf environment, MUSC implemented nine additional x3850 X5 systems running in multiple Oracle RAC clusters to support McKesson—also with Intel® Xeon® processors. 2
IBM Systems and Technology HealthcareCase Study “We were really pleased with what we saw out of the Solution components IBM X-Architecture®. And we were really happy with the price point that we were getting. Being a state institution, budget is important. Hardware For us to be able to have better technology and have it at a better ● IBM System x® 3850 X5 price—you can’t get any better than that.” ● IBM BladeCenter® HX5 ● IBM System Storage® DS8300 ● IBM XIV® Storage System Hoffman says his team was impressed with how smoothly the System x ● IBM Storwize® V7000 implementations went, as well as with the rapid rate of acquisition. ● Intel® Xeon® processors “Implementation was fairly simple—we did it ourselves,” he says. Software “And the acquisition process was very quick. I’ve noticed that IBM can ● IBM System Storage SAN Volume deliver things faster than other vendors can.” Controller ● Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 ● Oracle A prescription for better patient care Over the years, MUSC has been no stranger to IBM. The organization Business Partner recently migrated its VMware environment from a competitor to the ● Dynamix Group IBM BladeCenter HX5 platform. The solution supports a burgeoning virtualization infrastructure, with more than 600 virtual machines currently in production and more added every day. MUSC also runs IBM Power Systems™ and a wide range of IBM storage solutions, including IBM System Storage® DS8300, IBM SAN Volume Controller, IBM XIV® Storage System, and IBM Storwize® V7000. For Hoffman, being able to rely on IBM boils down to one beneﬁt: “We can do the things that we’re supposed to do. We can get the transac- tions done in a timely manner. Our point of care is faster because of the performance of these systems, which means that our physicians and nurses are more successful at their jobs, which means that patient care is better. That’s really all that matters to us.” For more information To learn more, contact your IBM representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit us at: ibm.com/systems/x For more information about Medical University of South Carolina, visit: www.muschealth.com For more information about Dynamix Group, Inc., visit: www.dynamixgroup.com 3