Another Way to Skin

By Brian Fonseca  |  Posted 2005-09-12 Print this article Print

a Server"> The AHA decided to standardize all its member sites on Sun Solaris servers and a storage system running on the Solaris operating system, as well as the Sun ONE Directory Server, Sun ONE Web Server and Sun ONE Messaging Server. On top of that runs Oracle 10g.

Baumann said that everyone shares the same database, but they manage and own their own logs so that users cant get into anyone elses data without permission.

Since about 60 percent of the AHA site is publicly accessible, Baumann said that smaller organizations that dont have enough content to update their own Web site weekly can automatically pool data from a myriad of AHA network sources to ensure their customers receive the most relevant health care information as soon as its available.

Still, Baumann said the road to achieve the unified AHA content strategy and shared taxonomy was not without its share of difficulties. The complexity of the prior infrastructure setup led to a few "frustrating" implementation errors for Web site owners and site users whenever a glitch occurred, he said.

"We took some lumps along the way, but we never wavered," said Baumann. "At critical junctures we were able to benefit from a lot of help from Interwoven, Verity and Sun, who provided us with new ways to skin the cat."

Interwovens software has been exceptionally difficult to upgrade, some say; others are satisfied and praise the companys support. Click here to read more. As a sign of its ongoing success, Baumann said that the Michigan Health & Hospital Association, in Lansing, has recently joined AHAs technology platform.

Cochrane said companies that undertake such a massive shared architecture and content management upheaval need to carefully consider the growing complexity of the underlying technology. It is easy to be sent awry without proper guidance at the projects helm, he warned.

"When we see a leader like AHA with great vision and good project management, I know that the technology works. If you dont have the right leader on the project setting the right goals and objectives, it doesnt matter how good the technology is; it will fail," he said.

In the meantime, Baumann said he is gratified to see the average length per visit to the AHA portal is 5 minutes and 42 seconds. The hospital network is targeting an audience of 4.4 million viewers this year, all of which would not be possible had the AHA not determined the best way to use a highly configurable piece of software for its needs.

"It really forces you from a business perspective [to answer] what it is you really want to do. How do you want to share your content? What type of independence do you want to provide to individual sites? What are staffing ramifications? How do you manage different stuff?" asked Baumann. "It makes you ask every single question you need to answer."

"That exercise was extremely valuable and helped our success," he said.

Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis of technologys impact on health care.

Brian Fonseca is a senior writer at eWEEK who covers database, data management and storage management software, as well as storage hardware. He works out of eWEEK's Woburn, Mass., office. Prior to joining eWEEK, Brian spent four years at InfoWorld as the publication's security reporter. He also covered services, and systems management. Before becoming an IT journalist, Brian worked as a beat reporter for The Herald News in Fall River, Mass., and cut his teeth in the news business as a sports and news producer for Channel 12-WPRI/Fox 64-WNAC in Providence, RI. Brian holds a B.A. in Communications from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

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