Instant access to services is now key to survival for every organization operating in any industry, but perhaps nowhere more so than in healthcare. Here, service delays can have a devastating, life-changing effect. And as demand for healthcare services rises around the world, especially since the start of the pandemic, the pressure placed on hospital Information Technology (IT) infrastructure is only increasing. So it's imperative that institutions renew their efforts to ensure that their systems are efficient, responsive, and — most important — always on.
As the primary provider of healthcare services in West Occitania, a part of France's southernmost administrative region (excepting the island of Corsica), Toulouse University Hospital (TUH) is no stranger to these challenges. Receiving 550,000 emergency calls, 276,000 hospitalizations, and caring for over 820,000 patients each year, it needs its IT systems to deliver — and to deliver fast. But with admissions growing by 30% each year, the hospital’s legacy systems were struggling and beginning to strain.
TUH has been a leading national healthcare institution for over 18 years, earning its position as one of France's top four Centres Hospitaliers Universitaires (CHU): hospitals associated with a university. As such, it operates across locations in the north and south of the city it's named for, Toulouse, employing over 3000 doctors and medical students , along with a further 11,600 hospital staff, to perform a range of healthcare services, from daily patient care and long-term cancer treatment to medical research.
To ensure the smooth running of its services, TUH has long relied on a data storage solution. But, all of a sudden, data volumes exploded, stretching it to its limits: patient admissions were on the rise and a growing number of online services, including mobile applications and Internet diagnosis, were being rolled out. With the increasing adoption of Artificial Intelligence (AI)-assisted healthcare only exacerbating the issue, more and more pressure was piling onto the hospital’s straining legacy storage system, drastically slowing response times and reducing operational efficiency as a result.
"As our hospital admissions grew, we noticed our storage performance degrading. This was problematic, because fast, uninterrupted data access is crucial to our patients’ treatment and well-being. Data must always be 100% accessible," said David Lataste, TUH’s Data Center Architect.
To further complicate matters, the storage network consisted of storage devices, storage gateways, and cross-data center active-active networking, which made management complex, time-consuming, and expensive. In addition, the legacy system didn't support Network-Attached Storage (NAS) file storage, impacting the hospital’s ability to share and access medical files across its multiple sites.
"Innovation has always guided our daily activities and future strategy, and we have long aimed for excellence. So we wanted to modernize our legacy IT system architecture to better meet patient needs," Lataste explained.
TUH knew that to meet its performance objectives, it needed a high-quality storage solution powered by new technologies — one that would be fast, reliable, and easy to manage.
With its goals clearly laid out, TUH began searching for a partner that could offer a suitable solution. To ensure the continuity of the hospital's mission-critical services, the new solution would, of course, need Disaster Recovery (DR) capabilities based on active-active deployment across dual sites.
Taking these needs into account, TUH began Proof of Concept (PoC) testing of potential solutions. Demonstrating its reliable active-active function, noteworthy performance, and convenient Operations and Maintenance (O&M) management capabilities throughout the PoC process, Huawei stood out from competitor vendors.
"After the successful PoC test, we decided that Huawei’s solution was the best choice for moving to an all-flash storage system. Their active-active solution works over a distance of 30 km and it surpasses the other vendors in terms of performance and O&M," Lataste said.
With the solution up-and-running for six months, average read latency fell as low as 0.8 ms, while average write latency achieved 0.144 ms. Plus, the data reduction ratio stood at 4.468:1, making the solution extremely cost effective.
In addition, OceanStor Dorado — Huawei's easy-to-use all-flash storage device — was deployed to simplify data access for Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) and file sharing from TUH's different locations.
To satisfy TUH’s need for an easy-to-manage system, Huawei BCManager provides visualized management for the entire DR process. This allows the IT team to view the running status of each device in the active-active service on a Graphical User Interface (GUI). The Huawei Data Management Engine (DME) platform further simplifies management by implementing intelligent fault prediction, quick resource provisioning and allocation, capacity-performance prediction, and routine device maintenance and optimization for the OceanStor Dorado devices.
Since deploying Huawei OceanStor Dorado, TUH has been able to dramatically speed up service delivery and ease the pressure on both its systems and IT team. "With Huawei storage, no matter what happens, hospital services will not be interrupted," Lataste explained. And with the new Huawei systems in place, the hospital's storage latency has fallen by 30%, performance has increased by 40%, and O&M has been streamlined, saving up to 30% in costs.
But the real success doesn't lie in numbers alone. For TUH, it's the experience of its patients that matters the most.
And with fast, reliable systems in place, TUH's staff can focus on what they do best: delivering the kind of quality care its ever-growing number of patients depend on, round the clock.