Bupa: ILM transfusion

The requirement

As with other healthcare organisations, private healthcare insurance company Bupa amasses vast quantities of records daily in all areas of its business – membership information, patient records, hospital data and claims. With more than seven million ‘members’, this translates into around 3TB of new data annually – an explosion it realised was beyond the scope of the existing storage management structure.

The age of existing systems (an EMC 3930 Symmetrix and two 8530s arrays, plus two EMC Celerra network attached storage systems) provided an 8TB-capacity SAN, but not the scalability or flexibility Bupa needed when it came to allocating storage resources, says the company’s enterprise management centre manager Iain Roy. “We needed extra capacity,” he says, but also the capability to prioritise the storage and retention of data based on its value at any point.

The solution

The company decided it needed to upgrade its systems and embrace an approach that managed information over its entire lifecycle – from creation to deletion. It was a question of spending money to save it, Roy suggests: “We realised we could gain greater cost and operational efficencies by refreshing our storage infrastructure and adopting an ILM strategy.”

The central plank of the strategy was the upgrading of its current EMC systems to an EMC Symmetrix DMX1000 high-end disk array and a Clariion CX400 mid-range machine. The former boasts 16.5TB of useable storage and will host data the company’s mission-critical applications, call centre systems and Oracle databases. The latter, with 2.5TB, will host Bupa’s data warehouse and applications development and testing environment.

Bupa’s ILM approach is to create a ‘four-tier architecture’ that allows the organisation to store information on the most cost-effective storage platform, according to its use and value. Data regarded as platinum resides on the Symmetrix array; gold data is hosted on Clariion; silver data is held on network attached storage devices from Dell; and bronze data is archived on Storage Technology tape drives and libraries. The go-live date for that new infrastructure was March 2004.

The benefits

The company estimates the new approach will save it £1 million over the next three years, but will also allow it to manage and protect its information more effectively, improving the accessibility of information for its 40,000 UK-based staff and 1,500 employees abroad.

By hiving off data warehousing from older Symmetrix systems to the lower-cost Clariion boxes, BUPA saved £250,000 alone.

Taking an ILM approach, says Roy, has “transformed our technology infrastructure. It allows us to match service levels and cost to the value of the information, protect information remarkably cost-effectively and optimise storage provisioning.” It works out simpler for staff to operate, better and faster for customers and ultimately cheaper for the Bupa organisation, he says. Furthermore, Roy claims the deployment will help keep Bupa outside of the regulatory firing line.

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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