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Medical Archive Grows Its Own Grid

Standards are great and blade servers have their place, but the U.S National Digital Medical Archive (NDMA) rejected both and instead built a grid for millions of hospital records using traditional hardware and a proprietary grid architecture.

The commercial archive, operated by Berwyn, Penn.-based i3 archive, stores around 1.5 million images for 30 hospitals around the U.S, including mammograms, CAT scans, and MRIs.

Derek Danois, the firms president, said that despite the hype surrounding blade servers, he has no plans to move away from the standard IBM xSeries servers currently in use. “Our processes, believe it or not, are not computationally intensive,” he says, adding that only 20 percent of the machines’ capacity is currently used.

The archive is powered by a 64-node grid of xSeries machines, hosted by IBM in two New Jersey and California data centers. “Their primary function is load balancing and traffic cop duty for data as it goes over the grid,” says Danois.

Despite a rash of recent announcements from vendors, users are sending a mixed message about blade technology. (See IBM Flashes New Blades and Blade.org Adds Voltaire .) On the one hand, some organizations are wowed by the processing power and space savings offered by blades, whereas others have balked at cost and heat issues. (See NewEnergy Chops Its Blades, Study Highlights Blade Disappointment, and Blades for Buffalo .)

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