Healthy Backup Solutions


JJ Wild, whose revenues are expected to top $80 million this year, was able to leverage its position as a trusted solution provider to help Christus create a backup and disaster recovery system that would keep its valuable patient data secure and restorable in the event of any mishaps.

"Christus corporate decided to implement its Christus Unity program," said Jim Fitzgerald, vice president and CTO of JJ Wild, Canton, Mass. "Unity was a drive to standardize their IT infrastructure in a way that did two things: It lowered the cost of delivering IT across their facilities but also created a consistent, quality approach to delivering health-care support systems."

Although the health-care company's headquarters are based in Irvine, Texas, it wanted to take its eight regional data centers and combine them into one data hub in San Antonio. The company has more than 1,500 servers in its network, and while only 250 were running the Meditech applications, the IT staff wanted an enterprisewide backup and recovery solution.

"They were looking to standardize the infrastructure whether you looked at storage, servers or networking," Fitzgerald said. "They were essentially rethinking the entire way they implemented health-care systems internally, and part of creating the future they wanted, [they had] to make sure they built high availability and disaster recovery."

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Christus needed an operational recovery strategy in the event a server crashed or small data was lost, and also needed a disaster recovery strategy in case of a large-scale data loss.

"We were looking to leverage the storage technology that we mutually provided with EMC. This is a very common theme in health-care," he said. "We find ourselves helping an awful lot of our customers leverage storage to create operational and disaster recovery vehicles."

To handle backup and recovery, JJ Wild brought in storage management software from BridgeHead Software, Woburn, Mass.

"If a single server fails, it potentially compromises the integrity of the system, and we would need to roll back very quickly to a valid version of the database. This was one of the problems that Christus wanted us to solve, and we saw BridgeHead as a powerful tool for solving that problem," Fitzgerald said.

Mark Middleton, system director, data centers and infrastructure for Christus Health, said the health-care conglomerate was looking to decrease his backup window from his current once-a-day tape backup. If data was lost, the backup could be 24 hours too old. "Now we're actually using the BridgeHead software to do incremental snapshots throughout the day to [save to] disk. That decreased the window to four hours," he said.

Christus runs Meditech software's database on more than 100 servers that access more than 8 Tbytes of EMC-based storage space. If one server responsible for 100 Gbytes of storage were to fail, BridgeHead's software could help the IT administrator get it back up and running with a recent copy of the data.

Over a two-year period, Christus spent more than $15 million re-architecting its IT environment, and about $3 million of that has been spent on its backup and recovery solution.

For JJ Wild, partnerships with vendors like BridgeHead have helped it increase its revenues by allowing it to introduce new technologies to customers when hired for its expertise in Meditech systems.

"Christus at first was interested in BridgeHead because of a strong partnership with Meditech and with us. It has the ability to manage very fast recoveries, which is unique in the health-care industry. They liked that tool so much that they wanted to generalize it for their enterprise, and it became the primary application for backup and recovery of all systems," Fitzgerald said.

Middleton is pleased with the way JJ Wild was able to orchestrate the sale and implementation of its software and hardware components.

"I think in the relationship between JJ Wild and BridgeHead—and even EMC—the chemistry has been pretty unique. It's been a very invigorating collaboration, and it brought together a lot of brain power that wasn't in any one organization. We got a lot from those companies. It's been a great experience," Middleton said.