The Challenge: Modernize slow, legacy spinning disks to increase access times and reliability while cutting administration effort.
The Solution: Transform legacy storage with innovative flash module drives built on Hitachi technology and strong partner relationship.
Federal healthcare contractor National Government Services (NGS), an Anthem Company, has been helping the United States build its most critical healthcare programs since 1966. More than 1,500 associates serve approximately 25 million Medicare beneficiaries and thousands of healthcare providers, ensuring society’s most vulnerable can access the healthcare they need. The company’s processing centers handle more than 200 million claims, accounting for $70 billion in payments from the Medicare trust fund annually.
“Our systems need to be reliable so our customers have the information they need to manage their healthcare needs,” says Paul Marks, a program management director at National Government Services. With services available 24/7/365, the organization cannot afford any downtime.
Many of NGS’ IT systems were built in the 1990s and include legacy technologies, such as magnetic tape. Managing these often complex systems was both resource-intensive and time-consuming. “Solid state storage and spinning disks were slowing us down,” explains Ryan Rady, infrastructure architect executive at National Government Services. “Backups took six hours and getting our nonlive environments refreshed and in sync after upgrades and testing took four hours.” This is valuable time that the NGS team could devote to other activities.
NGS recognized that it needed to modernize its legacy storage technology. “We were not just buying a new product; we were looking for a new partner that could support us in the long-term,” says Marks.
NGS’s successful partnership with Hitachi Vantara has given the contractor peace of mind for more than a decade, and been critical to its success. “The longevity signifies that it's been a great partnership for us, not only technology-wise but also from a people perspective,” says Rady. Marks corroborates Rady’s view, saying: “Hitachi Vantara not only has excellent products that perform but is also there with us, day in, day out, if we ever need anything. We know we can rely on Hitachi Vantara.”
When NGS needed to refresh its storage environment, the choice was clear for the federal contractor. “Nobody can bring what Hitachi Vantara brings,” states Rady. “Our data is very important to us. With Hitachi Vantara, we've had zero downtime in the almost 10 years I've been here, and I expect that to continue.”
Such close collaboration means Hitachi Vantara knows NGS’s business well, and where its products fit into NGS’s portfolio. Hitachi Vantara is very proactive in advising NGS of relevant products and ideas based on the contractor’s business, so when NGS was looking to refresh its storage environment, Hitachi Vantara recommended its flash module (FMD) technology.
“Implementation was very easy,” says Rady. “This is the third generation of Hitachi technology we’ve implemented, and we’ve always had a good experience because its technical teams collaborate so well with ours. They're hardworking, dedicated, smart individuals, and they understand what we need to accomplish.”
Today, the FMD technology supports several different types of data, including Oracle, virtual machines, and SQL.
The solid-state FMD technology significantly increases both reliability and speed of access. NGS reduced the time required to complete its data backups from six and a half hours to just over four hours while synchronization with the nonlive data center takes about 38 minutes instead of four hours and 15 minutes. “The efficiency gains we’ve made with the FMD technology from Hitachi have been huge both in terms of system operations and administration time,” confirms Rady. On average, NGS saves around 30 hours a month of storage administration time thanks to the performance improvement of the FMD technology.
NGS’ small technical team have a significant volume of important data to manage. FMDs from Hitachi Vantara are reliable, fast and proven to handle the federal contractor’s data efficiently, so NGS can relax in the knowledge that its data is safe and can focus on more innovative activities. In addition to increasing productivity, solid state technology also gives NGS additional peace of mind. “We can now get back in sync very quickly,” explains Rady.
While FMDs allow NGS to be more ambitious, the technology is also aligned with its risk-averse clients who have to meet rigorous federal standards for quality and security. “Reducing risk is probably the number one thing that we have to accomplish here,” explains Rady. “Using Hitachi Vantara means we don't need to change any of our processes or any of our procedures. And we don't have to retrain our staff.”
Modernizing the storage environment is also very important from a business standpoint. Supported by Hitachi technology and Hitachi Vantara expertise, NGS can now demonstrate strong digital experience whenever it bids for new business from the government. “Our relationship with Hitachi Vantara is critical to our future success,” concludes Marks. “NGS has an aggressive growth plan. No matter what we do from the business side, with Hitachi Vantara we know IT can support our ambitions.”
Reliable management of big data is becoming of greater value for many federal agencies in the healthcare space. NGS is growing the number of federal agencies that it can support, and adding new capabilities for existing customers. By utilizing Hitachi Vantara solutions, NGS can continue to meet the reliability demands of federal agencies.