While attending Nutanix‘s .Next conference in beautiful Miami Beach, I had the opportunity to speak with Brett Taylor, Director of Infrastructure and Operations for St. Luke’s Health System of Idaho. His organization is facing both regulatory and business pressures. Deploying VDI has been selected as the best approach to delivering data and applications to the physicians and clinicians at St. Luke’s.
A bit about St. Luke’s
Taylor pointed out that the IT team at St. Luke’s supports over 1,500 physicians and 13,000 employees across 150 facilities in Idaho and Eastern Oregon. The team includes 140 technologists that deliver technical support services, data center services, end-point device services and unified communications and collaboration services to the health system.
St. Luke’s has implemented systems using new technologies such as Epic’s electronic medical record, tele-health services, and has had to deal with challenges resulting from a large amount of growth.
The organization is currently focused on creating an exceptional end-user experience by standardizing service delivery and implementing new technologies including cloud based personal productivity, Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, thin-clients and others that will enhance the productivity of the workforce.
What lead St. Luke’s to use Nutanix
Taylor said that about 2 years ago the IT organization started to investigate delivering a virtual desktop environment to the physicians and clinical workers. As they started that journey, they knew that the infrastructure was very important to a good customer experience and that a good customer experience was crucial to the organization’s success.
The biggest concern of the IT organization was they really didn’t know how fast they was going need that VDI platform to scale up. What they did know was that they needed to select a product that would allow them to start with a small project and then scale up as needed.
Where they started
Taylor pointed out that at the beginning they had traditional storage and server platforms in their data center. While this approach was supporting the current workload well, IT was concerned that once the VDI-based solution was in place, it was not at all clear how the current platform would perform. He said, “Once we got beyond a certain number of users, we were concerned that the performance would no longer be acceptable.” The IT department just didn’t know how many users would need to be supported. They started exploring what technical solutions were available that would address St. Luke’s requirements.
Taylor pointed out that at the beginning, St. Luke’s looked at its traditional platforms, which were Cisco’s UCS and storage from EMC. IT identified Nutanix and couldn’t find another solution that appeared as advanced as Nutanix and met the criteria for performance and scalability.
St. Luke’s executed a small pilot implementation using Nutanix as part of its virtual desktop solution. Taylor believes that Nutanix was a key tool that helped remediate problems the organization was experiencing in the Windows XP to Windows 7 migration.
St. Luke’s selected Nutanix because it was scalable and all IT had to do was to purchase more nodes to scale out its virtual platform. IT knew that it wouldn’t have to redesign St. Luke’s architecture as additional users were moved onto the system.
What benefits has St. Luke’s received through the use of Nutanix?
Taylor pointed out that St. Luke’s has gotten multiple tangible benefits through the use of Nutanix’s technology.
In the past, he mentioned, implementing a solution like this would have required the assistance of many different types of expertise and many engineers. Nutanix’s technology meant that St. Luke’s didn’t need to be concerned about expanding processing or storage resources. As the requirements grew, addressing them would be as simple as adding new nodes to the cluster.
Taylor explained that the use of the Nutanix solution meant that St. Luke’s could focus on end user experience rather than focusing on the platform. Since the initial pilot implementation St. Luke’s has acquired twenty additional nodes.
Taylor also pointed out that Nutanix global services organization offered some of the best consultants to work with in the area of virtual desktop solutions. He explained that they were not only very technical; they were quickly able to understand the needs of the user population. One actually went out with with the IT staff onto the patient floors to help create the solution.
Seldom have I had the opportunity to speak with an IT executive who was so enthusiastic about a company and its products. Nutanix appears to have helped St. Luke’s address a complex set of requirements and produce a simple solution that has lived up to Nutanix’s claims for performance, manageability and scalability.
My conversations with Nutanix executives and other Nutanix users caused me to be really impressed with what the company is doing today and its vision of a future in which the infrastructure was really invisible and easy to use.