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VARs Stay On Top OF Advances In Medical Storage

Take two arrays and call me in the morning.

That was the message from the Health Information Management and Systems Society (HIMSS) conference last week in Dallas. VARs and vendors said growing acceptance of IT products in health-care, coupled with new storage wares like those at the show, are leading to new opportunities.

Solution providers specifically pointed to regulatory issues such as HIPAA, as well as the increasing need to secure and transport large medical files, as key drivers of the growth.

"Customers need secure and reliable backup of electronic health records," said Randy Premont, president of SpaceCycles.Net, a Houston-based VAR. "Go to any doctor's office and, nine times out of 10, they are still transporting records to Iron Mountain by tape, or storing them on paper. I will automate the whole process ."

Dave Klauser, CEO of Prism Technologies, Oakbrook Terrace, Ill., offers medical storage solutions and Picture Archive and Communication System applications, said the medical field is rife with opportunity for storage specialists.

"Storage itself is simple. Doctors need to back up and archive data, they need disaster recovery [and] to know their data is available when they need it," Klauser said. Some products unveiled at the show were Gardendale, Ala.-based Teksouth's IQ Swift, which transfers files over commodity IP networks faster and more securely than FTP, said David Reeves, director of marketing.

IQ Swift sends data in encrypted packets asynchronously so that if a router or switch goes down, the send process can restart, Reeves said. The company is pursuing a channel-only strategy for its products.

Premont said he has been working with Teksouth to help ensure that the product is suitable for the medical market. "If you can't prove that data is protected, and prove who transported it and when, and where it is stored now, you are not HIPAA-compliant," he said.

Xiotech, Eden Prairie, Minn., introduced its Magnitude 3D 1000e array. The 1000e is similar to the rest of the company's enterprise-class Magnitude 3D array line, except that maximum capacity was cut to 19.2 Tbytes to bring the price to about $40,000 for 1 Tbyte, said Mike Stoltz, executive vice president of marketing.

Klauser, who sent personnel from Prism to work Xiotech's booth, said the lower-cost version of the Magnitude 3D will fit well with his health-care customers because of its clustered controllers.

Also at the show, Breece Hill, Louisville, Colo., introduced two new MaxOptix optical drives. The T8, using blue-violet laser technology, allows optical disks to carry 23.3 Gbytes of storage, while the T7 offers magneto optical disk capacity of 9.1 Gbytes, said Bob Schaefer, COO and senior vice president of product development.

For other storage vendors, the HIMSS show was a chance to highlight existing products.

Hitachi Data Systems, Santa Clara, Calif., showed its Thunder 9520V midrange array and its Universal Storage Platform, which can consolidate storage from multivendor arrays into a single pool, said Scott McIntyre, senior director of solutions and services marketing.

HDS has been in the medical market for less than a year and is recruiting solution providers with medical experience, McIntyre said. "Hospitals, like in any space, want to work with someone who understands the language they speak," he said.

EMC, Hopkinton, Mass., demonstrated its Clariion midrange storage arrays, its Centera array for storing fixed content such as medical images and electronic documents, and software for electronic health records and clinical workflow.

Santa Clara-based Sun Microsystems presented its Sun Compliance Content Infrastructure System, which combines software for setting storage policies, consolidating storage and increasing storage utilization.

Computer Associates International, Islandia, N.Y., demonstrated storage resource management software, as well as its Healthcare Storage Management Assessment offering. The offering, endorsed by the American Hospital Association as HIPAA-compliant, helps assess where data is being stored and whether it is being stored according to corporate policies.

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