SAN to Trim Healthcare Provider's Costs

Blue Shield refits IT infrastructure with a Dell SAN, looking to save $700,000 per year

June 21, 2001

2 Min Read
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Notwithstanding a few horror stories to the contrary, technology can improve operations, and one U.S. healthcare provider hopes to head that way by implementing a storage area network.

California-based Blue Shield expects to save $700,000 a year by consolidating its server and storage networks into one system.

With the savings it will realize from redesigning its IT infrastructure, Blue Shield hopes to better manage the increasing medical and pharmaceutical costs associated with providing its services. The company has around 2.3 million customers.

The project Blue Shield is undertaking is a radical refit that involves shifting over from 126 existing servers to 40 Dell Computer Corp. (Nasdaq: DELL) PowerEdge servers configured into a Dell PowerVault storage area network (see Blue Shield Selects Dell).

This means replacing 3,300 desktop computers with Dell OptiPlex machines, as well as hooking up 500 Dell notebooks: No mean feat by anyones standards, and attaching all this to a SAN isn’t cheap either.Dell’s PowerVault SANs come in a couple of configurations: The $45,000 PowerVault SAN 4.0 setup includes: four QLogic QL220 host bus adapters (HBAs), two Brocade switches, 250 gigabytes of Fibre Channel-based disk array storage (Dell's new PowerVault 660F array), management software, and support for two servers. A $90,000 configuration includes 12 QLogic HBAs, two switches, 800 gigabits of array capacity (scaleable to 7 terabytes), software, and support for six servers.

By moving its infrastructure onto a SAN, Blue Shield expects to get access to patient records in a more timely and secure way. It’s been using an old, proprietary data access system up to this point.

Blue Shield opted to use Dell as the primary vendor to avoid any incompatibility issues, says Dave Bowen, senior vice president and CIO. He refers to the storage systems market as having a “complete absence of interoperability."

According to Gartner/Dataquest, Dell ranks number two behind Compaq Computer Corp. (NYSE: CPQ) in installed SANs. IDC ranks Dell number six in overall storage revenues, at almost $1 billion last year.

— Jo Maitland, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

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