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The ever-growing need for improved performance of common hospital applications, such as medical imaging software and electronic health records, has in turn contributed to the high demand for more data storage, better performing data centers and virtual desktop infrastructure.
Implementing VDI is not always a successful journey, and in some cases it's a non-starter due to the overall costs and performance challenges experienced by healthcare organizations. However, for many hospitals, the benefits of such technology remain immense.
Clinicians are constantly on the go. With the amount of interactions they have with different applications and the endless need for information -- which, in some cases, can be critical for the patient's well-being -- access to technology with high performance is a must. Since VDI relies heavily on the server, networking and storage back-end infrastructure, IT recognizes its data center infrastructure must be resilient and deliver the highest performance to support VDI and meet the demands of end users.
Poor planning brought painful results
In the past, implementing VDI has resulted in challenges and false starts. IT managers have endured painful experiences in which installations have been unsuccessful, especially when hospital staff members noticed lags in app performance when switching between screens in the electronic health record. Many of the failures resulted from poor planning, design, architecture and hardware performance.
However, today -- thanks to enhancements in hardware and software -- hospitals can purchase ready-to-go bundles that deliver VDI technology with little effort. Modern technology trends, such as flash-based storage and converged infrastructures, provide VDI with the appropriate storage speeds and server performance it is hungry for.
Implementing converged or hyper-converged infrastructures alongside flash-based storage appliances has been shown to increase the speed of the healthcare data centers, improve uptime and reduce the environment's complexity. But the benefits don't stop there; today's latest flash-based storage and converged infrastructures generally take up less space in data centers and consume less power, making them an attractive solution for those looking to upgrade legacy hardware.
VDI needs driven by end users
A key reason that implementing VDI requires high-performing storage is a direct result of end users' interactions with the system. Healthcare workers are highly mobile, and access to their desktop may come from many different devices. Once connected to their desktop, the use of applications and data can drive a significant amount of IOPS (input/output operations per second) when considering the number of users on the environment at any time, which includes an increased amount of data writes since the entire desktop is virtual and not writing locally. These needs drive demand for high-performing storage units.
Many of the leading storage vendors that can address the requisites of VDI in healthcare are listed in Gartner's 2017 Magic Quadrant report on high-performing, solid-state-array storage.
Concerns about the price tag for implementing VDI are still top of mind for many health IT leaders, but as prices continue to decline and VDI adoption increases, more hospitals will transition toward new, high-performing storage arrays that deliver the speed and efficiency that VDI requires in order to deliver the right end-user experience.