Case Study: Faith Regional Health Services

Scalable PACS Storage, Built-in Data Protection, and Ultra-fast DR for Faith Regional Health Services

Industry: Healthcare

Object Store: Microsoft Azure

Capacity: 15 TB

Sites: 13    Users: 14,000

Key Applications: Picture, Archiving and Communication System (PACS)

Drivers: Sustained PACS growth, pending costly SAN refresh and inadequate backup and DR Requirements: Flexible, scalable file storage, Strong data security and DR HIPAA compliance and lower, more predictable costs

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Faith Regional Health Services didn’t want to undertake another expensive SAN or NAS refresh. However, the Nebraska-based healthcare organization needed scalable, cost-effective storage capacity that could keep pace with its steady growth of PACS (Picture, Archiving and Communication System) images. Improving backup and DR were other critical needs. Faith Regional turned to Nasuni to satisfy its storage and data protection requirements with a single solution that has reduced PACS storage costs more than 40%, while meeting the firm’s HIPAA compliance standards.

Nasuni Customer: Faith Regional
"With ten facilities throughout northeastern Nebraska, Faith Regional Health Services treats more than 150,000 patients across 13 counties. The organization has approximately 1,400 employees, a growing IT department and multiple PACS systems."

The combination of Nasuni and Azure is enabling the Faith Regional IT team to provision unlimited file storage capacity in real-time, eliminate backup and its related costs, and offer 15-minute file recovery to protect against accidental deletions, disasters, and Ransomware.

With ten facilities throughout northeastern Nebraska, Faith Regional Health Services treats more than 150,000 patients across 13 counties. The organization has approximately 1,400 employees, a growing IT department and multiple PACS systems. Upgrades to the imaging technology systems typically occur every three years. With each new rollout, the size and complexity of the related files increases.

One of the biggest growth areas at Faith Regional is its cardiology department. As the PACS cardiology service expanded, the organization’s HPE 3PAR SAN became strained.

Storage wasn’t the only concern. Paul Feilmeier, IT Infrastructure Manager at Faith Regional, knew the organization’s existing backup and disaster recovery solution also needed to be made more reliable and more efficient. With the firm’s two main storage locations situated only a few miles apart in a region of the U.S. known as "Tornado Alley," basic backup wasn’t an option. Geo-redundant data protection that would enable the firm to recover patient data even in the event of a regional disaster was needed.

HIPAA Compliance
"We won’t even look at a technology before we can be sure it will comply with our HIPAA requirements, Nasuni and Azure passed all our tests." Paul Feilmeier, IT Infrastructure Manager

HIPAA Compliance Was Key

Compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was critical. PACS system files have patient information attached to them, making them subject to HIPAA regulations that cover electronic Personal Health Information (PHI). Any new storage and data protection solution implemented by Faith Regional needed to comply with HIPAA.

IT was concerned with security as well, particularly Ransomware attacks. With recent studies showing that 84% of Ransomware attacks target hospitals and healthcare organizations, the IT department was looking for ways to prevent Faith Regional’s files from being taken hostage.

Finally, as a Six Sigma Certified professional, Feilmeier wanted to increase agility and efficiency within the IT department and across Faith Regional in total, while also reducing costs. Legacy storage vendors could only offer expensive, hardware-based capacity expansions that required lengthy implementation times, complex backup software, and periodic forklift upgrades. Feilmeier and his IT team began researching how Faith Regional could leverage Microsoft Azure as a more cost-effective option for capacity. His Azure representative urged him to consider Nasuni as a complete, Azure-certified storage and data protection solution.

Nasuni: Enterprise File Services at Cloud Scale

Nasuni met all of Faith Regional’s storage and data protection requirements in a single Software as a Service (SaaS) solution. Built on UniFS®, the first and only cloud-native file system, Nasuni is now providing scalable file storage capacity and data protection services in one, seamlessly integrated solution.

Unlimited, On-Demand File Storage Capacity — Nasuni stores gold copies of every file in cloud object stores such as Azure. In each Faith Regional location, the PACS system connects to a local Nasuni edge appliance that is in turn connected to an Azure volume. The edge appliance provides high performance cached access to the most frequently used files. Since Nasuni integrates with CIFS and other common protocols, IT did not have to change its existing controls.

"I foresee migrating more data to this solution, such as our department shares and additional PACS because of the functionality it contains." Paul Feilmeier, IT Infrastructure Manager

Continuous Versioning Eliminates Backup Pain — Nasuni’s disruptive approach to data protection is based on continuous versioning. Snapshots of the file system are taken every few minutes. New or changed data is chunked, compressed, encrypted and sent to the cloud, eliminating the need for costly, third party backup tools. Cost and complexity are significantly reduced. “Nasuni’s snapshot ability is incredible,” comments Feilmeier. “It’s light years ahead of anything else we looked at.”

Ransomware Protection — The built-in ability to continuously version every file also mitigates the threat of file ransoming. If a volume or directory is compromised, IT can easily roll back to a previous version using the snapshot that was taken prior to the Ransomware attack. Downtime will be avoided and business continuity assured.

Ultra-Fast Disaster Recovery — The Nasuni UniFS® file system is securely stored and continuously updated in Azure, enabling Faith Regional to leverage the Microsoft cloud’s native ability to replicate data to geo-redundant data centers. The proven combination of Nasuni and Azure protects the organization’s data against disaster and makes recovery fast and easy. “If we lost our data center, all we would have to do is find a PC, install a viewer, and point to the Nasuni share in the cloud,” Feilmeier explains. “It would literally take minutes to recover data.”

HIPAA Compliance — Nasuni’s approach to security, which includes strong encryption with customer-controlled keys as well as integration with existing access controls and AD, met Faith Regional’s HIPAA compliance standards. Azure provided an object store that was equally compliant. “We won’t even look at a technology before we can be sure it will comply with our HIPAA requirements,” says Feilmeier. “Nasuni and Azure passed all our tests.”

Operational Efficiency and Business Agility — Nasuni has enabled the Faith Regional IT team to meet its two main goals— scalable, cost-effective file storage and more reliable, faster data protection and DR. However, they are also unexpectedly benefiting from greater IT efficiency – the elimination of backup has freed up resources for other projects – and lower, more predictable storage costs – shifting storage array CAPEX to pay-as-needed OPEX.

Together, Nasuni and Azure are helping Faith Regional Health Services transform how it stores and protects patient data, enabling the organization to efficiently and cost-effectively scale operations, and treat patient data with the same care that its providers treat their patients.

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