Blog

Data Center Automation: Streamlining for Success

Healthcare professionals looking at data

Nebraska Medicine was facing data challenges. The health network realized it needed to automate its data centers in order to support future organizational growth, reduce management and operational costs and ensure sustainability. At the same time, it also recognized that a key element of its data infrastructure was reaching the end of its lifespan. To support the strategic direction of the health network in the future, the infrastructure would require modernization.

To address this challenge, Nebraska Medicine automated its data centers and transitioned to a virtualized compute, network and storage environment. The goal was for technology to become elastic and support the needs of the enterprise without adding unplanned costs or projects – allowing the Information Technology (IT) Department to deliver measurable value as a specialized service provider, fully integrated with the needs of the health system.

The health network convened a cloud engineering workgroup that executed a three-year roadmap to automate Nebraska Medicine’s data centers. The workgroup was governed by a technical and security committee and reported to senior leadership.

Nebraska Medicine’s transition to a fully automated data center started in 2016 when server virtualization efforts were accelerated to assist with a data center migration project. As part of decommissioning one data center and moving to a new one, as many physical systems were virtualized as possible.

The next phase of the automated data center strategy occurred in 2017 when the network was virtualized and infrastructure as a service (IaaS)/platform as a service (PaaS) was implemented. This enabled several key use cases for Nebraska Medicine, including the following:

  • Site linking allowing for effortless movement of workloads between data centers
  • Virtual firewalls between systems making the environment more secure
  • A self-service portal for stakeholders for obtaining infrastructure and platforms needed for strategic projects

The final phase was completed when data storage was adopted; it is now used to support predictive analytics tools for capacity and performance.

“The vision for Nebraska Medicine’s IT Department is to provide technology that is a strategic asset to the enterprise by providing anytime, anywhere access to highly reliable services,” said Brian Lancaster, vice president of IT at Nebraska Medicine. “There is no better example of this vision than the work that we accomplished by automating our data center, as we can now deliver services to the enterprise as they are needed, when they are needed.”

HIMSS Analytics EMRAM Stage 7 Validation

HIMSS Analytics EMRAM

HIMSS is proud to recognize Nebraska Medicine for its validation as a Stage 7 healthcare system, as tracked by the HIMSS Analytics Electronic Medical Record Adoption Model (EMRAM). The organization also validated O-EMRAM Stage 7 on the outpatient model (O-EMRAM).

Nebraska Medicine is realizing more than $33 million in benefits annually by automating its data centers and transitioning to a virtualized compute, network and storage environment. These benefits are seen through staff efficiencies, quicker turnaround times for strategic projects and improved security posture.

“The HIMSS Analytics EMRAM Stage 7 validation is foundational for almost anything that we hope to accomplish in patient and provider experience, safety, clinical effectiveness and program building,” said Jim Linder, MD, CEO of Nebraska Medicine. “Everything is harder without robust information technology, and the greatest success cannot be accomplished.”

“Nebraska Medicine shows its commitment to the patients they serve in the simple quote of ‘we strive to do no harm,’” said Philip Bradley, regional director, North America, HIMSS Analytics.