Maimonides Medical Center, the third-largest independent teaching hospital in the U.S., has to store electronic records on hundreds of thousands of patient visits each year. In this case, ensuring maximum uptime and accuracy of the storage can save someone's neck -- literally.
"In the IT profession, you always have people yelling at you," says Mark Moroses, senior director of technical services at the hospital. "Here, at least you know why. It's not like at Merrill Lynch, where you need to fix the system because they need to make another $2 million. This is different, because they're saying, 'I need that X-ray up because this guy's going into surgery in an hour.' "
The Brooklyn, N.Y., hospital last year decided to migrate all of its storage to a SAN, a multiyear project that is about halfway completed at this point. Moroses says moving to Fibre Channel-based storage has given the hospital well above 99.5 percent uptime, and very close to the magical "five 9s" -- 99.999 percent.
"The most important thing we do is keep accurate records," he says. "We didn't deploy a SAN because it's neat technology -- we did it because it drives down errors... It's infinitely better than direct-attached storage."
Couple that with the fact that Maimonides's storage needs are progressing just as steadily as patients come in through the front door, and the need to move away from DAS was evident. By law, Maimonides is required to hold medical records for seven years for adults; for children, the hospital must keep records until patients are 18 and then for another seven years after that. The 705-bed hospital handles 77,000 ER visits, more than 250,000 ambulatory visits, and 36,000 discharges every year -- each one of those events produces data that must be stored.