Epic tightens link with virtualization vendor VMware

EHR giant Epic Systems Corp. announces it will provide a new level of support to platforms from virtualization vendor VMware.

Epic Systems Corp. recently announced it has granted virtualization vendor VMware "target platform" status for virtualizing its applications. What exactly does that term mean and what are its consequences for providers?

On its surface, it doesn't mean much. Tisa Murdock, group manager for enterprise desktop solutions at VMware, said a number of customers were already using her company's platform to virtualize Epic applications.

Epic does not normally endorse specific technology or vendors, so this is really unique.

Bill Lewkowski,
CIO, Metro Health Corp.

What's different about the announcement is that Epic now will provide a higher level of support to organizations that want to use VMware for virtualization. Epic put VMware's platform through rounds of usability, performance and scalability testing before designating it as a target platform, Murdock said. It also solicited feedback from current Epic users who are virtualizing through VMware to see what works and what doesn't. Epic will develop an implementation guide that covers best practices, system requirements and expected results.

Bill Lewkowski, CIO at Metro Health Corp., a 208-bed teaching hospital in Wyoming, Mich., said the significance of the announcement is that VMware is now in the mainstream through its association with Epic. The testing and support involved is important to his organization. "Epic does not normally endorse specific technology or vendors, so this is really unique," he said. "For me, it just means that the direction we picked years ago is good and we'll be OK in the future."

Metro Health has virtualized all of its desktops, so uptime is a priority. Support is a major selling point for the health system.

Lewkowski said Metro Health implemented Epic in 2005 and began virtualizing it through VMware in 2007. The hospital -- on its third VMware implementation -- is using the platform to bring Epic applications to all of the hospital's clinical desktops. Epic had to make some minor adjustments to accommodate VMware's platform. Lewkowski said he was aware of changes Epic made to its core code to make mobile access easier.

The announcement continues Epic's relationship with VMware. In March, the vendors dropped news that Dell Healthcare will build a facility near Epic headquarters to allow hospitals to test virtualizing Epic applications through VMware platforms. In May 2012, Epic began authorizing implementation of its EHR system on Intel x86 servers, provided they are running Red Hat Linux and virtualized to VMware.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Ed Burns, news writer, or contact @EdBurnsTT on Twitter.

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