As a healthcare provider serving 100 Northern California cities and towns, Sutter Health is challenged to provide positive patient experiences and deliver high-quality, personalized care.
Technology is a key component in that effort, enabling Sutter’s 50,000 doctors, nurses and staff, as well as its patients, to access information at any time of the day, regardless of the type of system they’re using.
To ensure 100 percent uptime of that technology and quick recovery in the event of a service interruption, Sutter needed to ensure its data centers are operating with maximum efficiency. It’s a daunting challenge because the system had six data centers, including a main 1.5-megawatt production data center and five other regional data centers throughout Northern California.
In all, the data centers house approximately 600 racks of servers, which Sutter’s IT team tracked using Excel spreadsheets and Access databases. This process wasn’t optimal because it was difficult to ensure its inventory of technology was accurate. Much of the information was known only by specific employees, rather than documented in a central location, and the IT department wasn’t consistently aware of when equipment was added, moved or changed.
In 2014, Sutter embarked on a three-year data center consolidation project to streamline operations into two facilities—the main production data center and a disaster recovery site. Early in the process, Sutter IT executives identified the need for a data center management solution that could offer the following capabilities:
* Effective management of server, storage and database assets;
* Clearer visibility into activities of data center assets;
* Better understanding of how assets are interconnected, including their configurations and associated network and power connections;
* Improved reporting, including the ability to produce dashboards for senior leadership;
* Additional capacity management and predictive scenario development for planning purposes; and
* Integration with IT service management (ITSM) solutions.
After considering many data center infrastructure management (DCIM) products, Sutter decided to study a broader solution, selecting a data center service management solution from Nlyte Software.
Data center service management (DCSM) solutions represent a new category of applications that combine data center infrastructure management, robust workflow capabilities and seamless integration with IT service management solutions. Together, they help organizations effectively manage complex data center infrastructures.
The DCSM enabled Sutter to more accurately track inventory, proactively manage capacity and accelerated the department’s ability to deliver service to business users. In addition, the DCSM was able to seamlessly integrate with Sutter’s configuration management database.
When Sutter implemented the DCSM solution, it also deployed other features and modules from the vendor, including Floor Planner, which replaced its legacy computer-aided design tools. It’s also using the vendor’s Nlyte Barcode to help manage the location and conduct quarterly audits of physical assets.
Sutter contracted with Nlyte’s professional services team to install the DCSM solution, gaining assistance in importing bulk data and then offering a one-week training course for Sutter employees.
Results were tangible. Before implementing the DSCM, IT staff struggled when tasked with managing IT assets because its teams did not have physical information about IT assets. Now, the DCSM captures the physical attributes of those assets, tying them to serial numbers. Additionally, Sutter’s IT staff has complete visibility from its ITSM system down to the data center floor.
The barcode module enables Sutter’s IT staff to conduct more accurate and efficient audits, reducing by about 75 percent the time it would have taken beforehand.
The DCSM also gives Sutter reporting capabilities and a dashboard that provides improved visibility into what it costs to run given services while also improving disaster recovery planning capabilities. After its management team saw the reporting capabilities and the underlying data, they wanted more predictive analysis to address a multitude of “what if” scenarios.
The DCSM also enabled the organization to do more proactive power and cooling management, and when network information is integrated, Sutter will gain a better understanding of network connectivity and capacity at any given time.
These features are proving valuable as Sutter migrates thousands of servers out of the regional facilities as part of the consolidation project, and plans the space, cooling, power and capacity needed to add that computing capacity to the primary data center. By implementing a DCSM solutions, Sutter now can holistically understand its data center environment, including what assets it’s migrating from the regional data centers and how best to place them in the primary facility.
(About the author: Brian Desberg is director of the enterprise data center for Sutter Health).
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