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LifeCare Assurance

IP SAN Delivers Long-Term Benefits to Life Care Assurance
Leading third-party insurance administrator consolidates mass storage while lowering overall management efforts by more than 90 percent.

Background

Headquartered in Norcross, Georgia, Medical Doctor Associates (MDA) is a national medical staffing company specializing in locum tenens (temporary) and permanent job placement. The company was founded in 1987 and has become the nation’s largest multi-specialty locum tenens organization that offers A++ rated Occurrence Form Insurance. With a focus on quality medical staffing, MDA takes pride in providing the healthcare community with superior medical professionals.

Challenge

Prior to contacting StoneFly, Medical Doctor Associates’ entire data center ran on a fiber channel SAN. Although the system’s functionality was adequate for their early IT infrastructure, the fiber channel SAN was getting old and was reaching end of life in different stages. As more demanding amounts of data resources were being processed, the IT staff found that their current system became difficult to manage, and even more difficult to backup their data. Their backup procedures required multiple manual steps – one including backing up their data to a tape storage device every couple of days – which completely exceeded their windows of backup time. The company’s main concern was to safeguard their large in-house CRM database, which contained thousands of valuable client records and served as the backbone of the company’s everyday operations. Therefore it was crucial that those resources were backed-up on a constant basis. MDA’s IT department backup plan consisted of transferring their data from their onsite fiber channel network on to a backup tape after a few days. Although the process did the job, it proved to be more time consuming, difficult to manage, and unreliable as time went on.

A secondary issue the company faced was the lack of versatility with their fiber channel storage. It lacked the flexibility they desired, especially when it came to scalability. There was virtually no room for them to expand their storage space with their current system alone. Additionally, MDA had no option to network their resources offsite and there was no assurance that their database would be protected in the event of an onsite failover. With so many roadblocks guaranteeing data access MDA decided that they needed to upgrade their storage solution.

Solution

MDA had several requirements for their new storage solution. It had to be implemented in stages, assuming application and general file storage duties. The solution had to take over backup responsibility as well as specific point-in-time recoverability and meet undiscovered future challenges. Flexibility and scalability were paramount. A short phase one implementation also meant minimum training and ease of use were very important to the plan. After weighing all their requirements and considerable market research, the company decided that StoneFly’s line of powerful IP SAN solutions were the way to go. After consulting with StoneFly Sales Engineer, Dick Cecchini, the company decided on a three stage implementation over the course of one and a half years—StoneFly ISC2400 S-Class IP SAN product was the best solution for their specifications.

“We liked how StoneFly’s appliances were versatile, easy to manage and had advanced features like snapshots—which were things that our fiber-attached storage did not have,” says Phillip Pittman, Network Manager for MDA. “This along with the attractive price point compelled us to choose StoneFly.”

Equipped with StoneFly’s patented storage virtualization technology, the StoneFly ISC S-Class is a powerful IP SAN that is an ideal solution for IT environments that require high availability as well as fast disk-to-disk (D2D) backup and recovery. MDA’s first phase was to migrate general files and to create a local D2D backup plan using the new IP SAN storage. A twenty-four terabyte ISC2402S was used as its central storage system, utilizing 20TB of its 24TB capacity and networking the device to their current on-site and off-site storage and server appliances. Added data protection was desired and the ISC2402S was factory configured in RAID 6, which ensured that the company’s mission-critical data was now protected for up to two drive failures in the subsystem. Furthermore, with StoneFly’s award-winning StoneFusion® Network Storage Platform (NSP), MDA is able to effectively provision their storage resources to achieve their business continuity objectives.

The second expansion assumed more application storage duties. This was easily met with a half populated storage expansion unit holding its own RAID 6 protected data. When phase three rolled around, there was concern on MDA’s part that the subsystem would start to slow down with the additional burden. Performance was critical. The patented StoneFusion OS was flexible enough to add a second accelerated hardware SAS 6g RAID subsystem to the ISC assuring the same outstanding performance not only for this phase but down the road when required.

“Implementing in stages fell right into one of StoneFly’s strengths. Expansion without recurring master unit costs won the business. Of course continued demonstrated high performance and reliability did not hurt us either,” says Dick Cecchini, Sales Engineer at StoneFly.

Today, Medical Doctors Associates has finished their three phase plan and still has twenty-four disk slots to expand and the power and flexibility to drive that future expansion.

Benefits

By implementing StoneFly into their data center, MDA is able to easily expand, manage and protect their most valuable data on and offsite. Today their StoneFly ISC IP SAN supports a total of 55 servers. Furthermore manageability has been vastly simplified. The company is able to retain and retrieve resources within the required 30-day period.

Overall, MDA is enjoying the benefits of their StoneFly solutions. Phillip adds, “No matter what, people need storage – and StoneFly provides a reliable yet economical product.”

LifeCare Assurance

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