EMC, VMware Deploy VDI Cloud at North Carolina Hospital

EMC has deployed a virtual desktop infrastructure at N.C.'s Northern Hospital of Surry County to improve data protection and lower health care costs.

IT infrastructure company EMC has unveiled plans to deploy its VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure) software at Northern Hospital of Surry County, in Mount Airy, N.C., to lower health care costs and increase data protection at the facility.

"We were running out of processing capacity and space in our data center as we expanded our EMR (electronic medical records) infrastructure," Robbie Hall, Northern Hospital's CIO, said in a statement. "With a private cloud based on EMC and VMware, we've become significantly more efficient while supporting a wave of clinical initiatives that are helping us improve the quality of our patient care."

EMC's private cloud has brought more data efficiency to data management at Northern Hospital, Hall said.

Using EMC's hardware, Northern Hospital has saved hundred of thousands of dollars by eliminating 20 servers and minimizing the maintenance of existing servers, EMC reports.

The hospital has also been able to lower power usage and network congestion. Northern Hospital plans to achieve 70-80 percent server virtualization within the next 12 months, according to EMC.

"Because we're more efficient, our ratios of application development vs. technical support resources have gone from 50-to-50 to 35-to-65," Hall said. "As a result, we have more time for IT projects that help streamline the delivery of patient care and enable better collaboration among our clinicians."

With EMC's VDI platform, medical professionals will have access to virtual desktops at nursing stations and various devices to access clinical software such as EMR applications.

VDI also provisions desktop images from the hospital's central servers to help simplify IT maintenance and increase privacy and data security.

Deployments of VDI by facilities such as Northern Hospital are part of a "phase one virtualization storage consolidation," Bruce Lynn, EMC's health care solutions development manager, told eWEEK. The next phase could involve virtualizing clinical applications to reduce data complexity, lower costs and secure health information, he said.

"With EMC's portfolio of solutions and expertise, we've effectively transformed our entire data center, integrating storage, virtualization and backup and recovery into a streamlined private cloud infrastructure," Hall said. "As we roll out additional EMC solutions to support the private cloud, we expect to achieve even greater resiliency, agility and efficiency."

Northern Hospital has also implemented the Clarrion CX4 storage system to store the hospital's applications, including Meditech (HCIS) Health Care Information System, an application that helps hospitals streamline workflow and improve communication channels.

The hospital stores most of its virtual servers on Clarrion SATA drives, and with VMware vSphere, the hospital achieved 42 percent virtualization of its servers running Meditech and other software, EMC reports.

In addition, Northern Hospital is using the View 4.5 virtual desktop platform, which EMC's VMware unit launched Sept. 13.

At Northern Hospital, the VDI also runs on a platform managed jointly by Cisco, EMC and VMware, Lynn said. The three parties comprise the Virtual Computing Environment coalition.

The platform also features Imprivata single sign-on capabilities, he said. This feature eliminates the need to log in again when a physician moves from one exam room to another or a radiologist needs to get back on a terminal to view a medical image, Lynn explained.

EMC announced its partnership with Northern Hospital on Nov. 29 at the RSNA (Radiological Society of North America) 2010 conference in Chicago.

In November, EMC also announced that it would build a secure private cloud at ORMC (Orange Regional Medical Center) in Middletown, N.Y., to exchange medical data and EMRs. As part of the project, ORMC will deploy VMware's vSphere platform to virtualize 80 percent of ORMC's servers.

"What EMC is dedicated to these days is helping our customers-and in this case, health care providers-achieve meaningful use of their EHR [electronic health record], improve their health care delivery and reduce their costs, and one of the ways we see being really helpful in getting them there is this journey to the private cloud," Lynn said.