hipaa requirements

Florin Dejeu

HIPAA Requirements and Improving Efficiency of Data Protection 

– Florin Dejeu, director of product management, Sepaton, Inc, says:

The University of Utah Health Care (UUHC) is a leading health care system affiliated with the University of Utah, comprising four hospitals and 10 neighborhood health centers. The healthcare system and the University rely on mission-critical IT systems, including large Oracle, SQL, UNIX, Solaris, AIX and Epic systems, to manage hospital operations, patient records, financial records, student records, and a variety of other key functions. As a healthcare organization, they are required to securely retain patient data for seven years to stay in compliance with the Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). They also need to protect the data of thousands of staff and students who rely on these systems.

With data volumes growing at more than 20 percent annually, their physical tape systems could not provide the capacity, performance or reliability they needed to back up massive data volumes within short backup windows or to copy these large data volumes to tape archives quickly and efficiently.

UUHC data center backs up approximately 15 TB/day and 1.7-2.0 PB per month. They manage and protect a total of 7 PB of data from both the University and healthcare organizations by backing up data, then staging it and copying it to tape for long-term storage. The UUHC had introduced a non-scalable disk-based backup system to deduplicate their data and improve their backup performance and disaster recovery. They also had a smaller disk-based deduplication system in their disaster recovery site with NFS mounted backups. According to Rung Chuon, systems administrator for UUHC, “We outgrew the deduplication system we had in 4 months. It could not scale to meet our needs and could not deduplicate database data efficiently. We were always moving data off the disk to reclaim capacity and then recreating processes and pointing it back to tape.  It was a management nightmare.” Performance suffered as its inline deduplication slowed the backup process as data volumes grew.

UUHC decided to conduct a thorough evaluation of leading disk based data protection systems from Exagrid, Falconstor, Symantec, HP, EMC, and Sepaton. In the end, HP and Sepaton were the chosen candidates who qualified for a rigorous proof-of-concept with the following requirements:

  • Performance that could backup tens of terabytes per day within backup windows
  • Flexibility and capacity to allow them to stage data for efficient copy to tape
  • Deduplication that would reduce capacity requirements of large databases without slowing backup performance
  • Scalability to grow as their data volumes increased over time
  • Support for NetBackup OST backup

“We conducted the most difficult proof-of-concept (POC) possible,” said Daniel Thor, systems administrator, UUHC. UUHC not only treated the systems like they were in full production, they pushed them hard to find their limits. The Sepaton S2100-ES3 gateway met their POC challenges with ease.

The Sepaton system was installed and running quickly and seamlessly, using NetBackup OST over Fibre Channel. Sepaton provided excellent support services and highly knowledgeable staff.  The backup performance has exceeded their expectations. “You can throw as much data at it as you want and it just handles it,” said Thor. “Before Sepaton, we fought to meet our backup windows. With Sepaton, we meet our windows and everything is clean. Restore times are also fast.”

The Sepaton system also enables UUHC Oracle Recovery Manager (RMAN) database administrators to conduct their Network Data Management Protocol (NDMP) restores to NetApp file shares as they need them, allowing them to conduct faster and more efficient development work.  Before Sepaton, they could only use four streams to backup 13-15TB of data for one of their key Oracle databases. With Sepaton, they can use 10 streams, cutting backup times for it by nearly fifty percent.

The Sepaton S2100 made the UUHC tape staging process significantly less time consuming and more efficient. “With our old systems, the staging/clean-up process would hold us up. With the Sepaton technology ingest is always fast and all cleanup is done in the background,” said Chuon.

Because the Sepaton system knows the data backup and data type, it is much more efficient at reclaiming scratch tapes and unused capacity. As a result, the system runs seamlessly.

Sepaton S2100 also provided significantly better deduplication ratios than their legacy system. They are getting significantly improved capacity reclamation on their largest Oracle database and excellent deduplication ratios overall.

The Sepaton S2100 will enable them to add processing nodes and capacity as their data volumes grow. “Because of deduplication and compression, we are currently only using 89 TB of the 212 TB of raw capacity currently allocated in our Sepaton system,” said Chuon. “When we do need more capacity or performance in the future, we can simply add what we need without buying a whole new system.”

UUHC plans to add Sepaton systems in its remote replication sites for disaster protection.

About the Author

Florin Dejeu, director of product management, Sepaton, Inc. has more than 20 years of product management experience, overseeing the development of products that address the information management needs of large enterprises with emphasis on storage, archiving, classification, HSM and data protection solutions.

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