Brocade helps healthcare providers with disaster recovery
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Brocade helps healthcare providers with disaster recovery

When Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005, Mississippi's Singing River Health System had a wake-up call. After experiencing several hours of downtime during the event, hospital officials made a commitment to developing a more comprehensive disaster recovery strategy. Brocade recently announced that Singing River Health System chose their networking solutions to boost performance and safeguard patient data.

The healthcare system, which has two primary networks, has implemented Brocade VDX and FCX switches to support its data centers. These switches allow the organization to maximize the availability of information and lower latency, as well as improve scalability. These advanced switch technologies allow the hospital to potentially continue functioning even in the wake of a natural disaster, when their services are likely to be in high demand.

Singing River Health System has 2,600 employees, in addition to more than 300 clinicians. Because the operation is so large, serving 106,130 patients in its emergency rooms alone in 2012, it must now support more than 700 servers in its daily operations. 

"We live in a hurricane-prone environment, so we've designed our network infrastructure to accommodate a natural disaster recovery scenario by utilizing two separate data centers and replicating our data where appropriate," said Aaron Marsden, network and database administrator, Singing River Health System. "Brocade plays a significant part of that infrastructure."

Marsden also praised the new solutions for speeding log-in times to only seven seconds, less than half of the time it takes users of many other networks to gain access. Not only is this convenient for physicians, but during an emergency, those seconds could be the difference between a patient recovering or experiencing life-threatening complications.

According to the 2012 BridgeHead Software International Healthcare Data Management Survey, disaster recovery is one area in which many U.S. healthcare organizations need work. Among the 158 medical executives surveyed in the U.S. and United Kingdom, 54.6 percent claimed that disaster recovery was one of their top priorities. However, only 26 percent of respondents also reported the deployment of well-tested data recovery solutions

The study also found that, because updating backup and recovery solutions can take as much as a day in the hospital setting, many medical facilities do not regularly backup their information. In the case of an unexpected weather event, this could lead to the destruction of large amount of patient information, leading to excessive downtime. In order for hospitals to serve the public, they must prepare data for catastrophes.