InterSystems EnsembleREVIEWER: Gary VanderHeiden, IT applications manager for Metropolitan Health Corporation.

BACKGROUND: Metropolitan Health Corporation (Metro Health) is a healthcare delivery network that includes Metropolitan Hospital, a full-service, multispecialty hospital that serves a growing region. The Metro Health Network also includes physician organizations, outpatient centers, wellness, fitness and preventative services. The IT strategy is to implement cutting-edge technologies that will enable the hospital to become fully digital.

PLATFORMS: InterSystems Ensemble is running on an IBM server with the AIX operating system. PC clients are Compaq desktops running Windows XP.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Metro Health had been using SeeBeyond integration products as its messaging infrastructure since 1997. One of the key objectives of the IT strategy to become fully digital was to integrate information from multiple applications in order to provide rapid, seamless information accessibility. Metro Health was faced with a rewrite of all its existing interfaces to move to the new version of SeeBeyond software and the need to deliver more rapid integration to meet our schedule. After examining multiple integration platforms, we selected Ensemble universal integration platform to replace the legacy infrastructure. The first phase of the Ensemble integration project involved integrating seven applications to enable back-end information via 11 HL-7 interfaces. Integration of a total of 20 systems with approximately 50 different interfaces is expected to be complete by the end of July 2005.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Ensemble provides a unified graphical, XML and code-based development environment that accelerates modeling and automating business processes. Our interface specialists estimate that Ensemble enables nearly three times faster interface development than the SeeBeyond products. In addition, Ensemble offers message persistence and processes messages extremely rapidly. Ensemble's integrated high-performance object database manages and stores all meta data, messages and process state information in a very cost-effective way with little overhead. The database persists both live and previously processed messages for effectively real-time auditing and business activity monitoring (BAM). Ensemble also provides a BAM framework that has broad-based connectivity options, reliable messaging and powerful business process modeling tools. These capabilities will make it much easier to quickly trace and resolve messaging bottlenecks when they occur.

STRENGTHS: The rapid development and integration made possible by Ensemble top the list of product strengths. Easily customizable and extensible management and monitoring facilities are another area where Ensemble stands out. Its Universal Service Architecture enables access of legacy data and functionality as reusable .NET or J2EE components, Web services or XML, eliminating the possibility of being locked into .NET- or J2EE-specific products.

WEAKNESSES: Because Ensemble provides message persistence, all messages must be stored in a message warehouse for later access, if they are needed. As a result, it was necessary to add disk space for the message warehouse.

SELECTION CRITERIA: The chief product selection requirements were for rapid integration, sophisticated end-to-end management capabilities and a real-time messaging warehouse. An additional criterion was to have a version-stable system that did not require rewrite of interfaces as new versions of the product were marketed. The competitive strengths of Ensemble's robust feature set and InterSystems' history of backward version compatibility with its Caché post-relational database made Ensemble the logical product choice.

DELIVERABLES: Ensemble is currently generating a variety of interfaces to multiple healthcare information systems. The sending system transmits information to Ensemble. Using the business rules specified by a development team, Ensemble relays that data to one or more receiving systems.

VENDOR SUPPORT: InterSystems development and support specialists are very helpful and easy to work with. Their dedication and commitment have been outstanding in a very successful working relationship.

DOCUMENTATION: Ensemble documentation is exclusively online. While it has proven to be very helpful, we rarely access it because the product is designed to be intuitive.

InterSystems Corporation
One Memorial Drive
Cambridge, MA 02142

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