UCS Executes Two Basic Workflows

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2010-08-02 Print this article Print


"Our average turnaround time-from the time we receive the study to the time we get the report back to the hospital-is less than 20 minutes," Brande told eWEEK. "This is relevant because a big portion of our studies are for emergent care-there's somebody waiting for the report in order to know how to treat the patient."

There are two basic workflows involving the UCS system, Brande said.

"One would be the order, or requisition flow; that is a NightHawk application in which the hospital will go in and enter information about the patient," Brande said. "This will tell us the patient's history. That requisition has to be tied to the images for that particular order.

"The second flow is getting the actual images from the hospital to us. We process [the images], link those two things together, then we send that out to our radiologists."

About 80 percent of the radiologists work from remote locations, Brande said. The system can reach them, as long as they have a laptop computer, anywhere in the world. The Cisco UCS makes all this happen smoothly, Brande said.

Company existed on 'ad hoc server rooms'

Before it started deploying the Cisco UCS last winter, NightHawk had for about six years what best can be described as "ad hoc server rooms," Brande said.

With the continued growth of the business, "a lot of what we deployed came out of 'Where will it fit?' as opposed to any specific design," Brande said. 

"We ended up with a lot of pockets of infrastructure in business centers around the world. Those rooms were not necessarily built to be hardened data centers. We had power issues, not-always-appropriate cooling-the obvious impact of that type of stuff was that you increase the opportunity for service-impacting outages-things that typically shouldn't become an issue. Manageability was a real problem," Brande said.

NightHawk had 120 servers dispersed in three countries. Upgrading firmware, issuing software patches, moving assets from one place to the next-it was all a serious and costly problem, Brande said.

The first thing NightHawk wanted to do was consolidate all the ad hoc server rooms into a more managed environment.

"We wanted to do that without breaking the bank," Brande said. "And we wanted to free up our resources to be responsive to other challenges in the business."

Those involved the fast-increasing number of medical images to process on a daily basis in addition to improvements in imaging software, which NightHawk was anxious to get installed and running as soon as possible.

How UCS stepped into the picture

That's where the UCS stepped into the (digital) picture.

"[In the past], we had been buying whatever was on the market that best fit the purpose of what we needed," Christopher Smith, manager of data center infrastructure at NightHawk, told eWEEK. "They were fine when they were installed, but inappropriate for when volumes grew."

Multiple vendors and multiple versions of software and firmware caused "a bit of a nightmare keeping track of everything," Smith said. "We were spending far too much time figuring out where everything was, instead of figuring out how to make things better."

Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on Salesforce.com and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and DevX.com and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

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