Asklepios Healthcare Provider Boosts SAP Performance by 67 Per Cent with New IT Infrastructure
Asklepios runs more than 95 hospitals and rehabilitation clinics across Europe and the United States. Working with Microsoft and Intel, Asklepios launched its Future Hospital Program. One of its aims was to boost service levels through the effective use of IT. The hospital decided to move its mission-critical SAP software from a SUN and Oracle environment to a Microsoft® and Intel® infrastructure.
With Quad-Core Intel® Xeon® processors and Dual-Core Intel® Xeon® processors combined with Microsoft SQL Server™ 2005 Enterprise Edition and Windows Server® 2003 Enterprise Edition, the hospital has dramatically improved patient care and boosted SAP performance by 67 per cent. IT managers also find the new infrastructure quick and easy to manage.
Intel and Microsoft completed the project in less than three months, with no interruption to the group’s day-to-day activities.
Healthcare providers around the world are under increasing pressure to deliver solutions that improve healthcare while ensuring the sustainable financing of health systems. Innovative IT technologies are set to play a key role in meeting these requirements. The Asklepios Group is one of the leading healthcare providers in Europe. Based near Frankfurt, it aims to drive healthcare improvements through IT development.
Asklepios wants to improve patient treatment quality by introducing up-to-date technology. Uwe Pöttgen, Chief Information Officer at Asklepios, says: “The primary challenge of all healthcare providers is delivering the best possible patient care without compromising staff efficiency or incurring additional costs.” The group decided that it needed to integrate standardised, innovative IT solutions across the board so that it could provide better support for the entire healthcare process and act as an industry model. But Asklepios was growing quickly.
In 2005, it purchased seven hospitals in Hamburg alone and was concerned that its existing IT infrastructure might lead to performance bottlenecks if left unchanged. The consultants really understood our needs and were able to architect and deliver appropriate solutions. Robert Lacroix, Head of Infrastructure, Asklepios The organisation was due to upgrade its business software from SAP R/3 4.6C to SAP ERP 2005. It was also primed to adopt specialist solutions SAP for Healthcare, which combines patient data with management data, and the SAP solution for personnel management.
Its existing infrastructure was based on SUN Fire V1280, SUN Solaris 8, and Oracle 8. A series of tests revealed that this technology could not meet all of its performance requirements, while any upgrade would be expensive. Pöttgen says: “Upgrading the existing systems would have meant an investment of just less than €500,000.” After conducting a series of tests, Asklepios realised that it needed to implement a new infrastructure to support its growing demands.”
After thoroughly evaluating the market, Asklepios chose to work with technology partners Intel and Microsoft to perform the SAP migration. Intel® Solution Services and Microsoft Services worked together to implement an infrastructure based on Multi-Core Intel® Xeon® processor technology, Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition and Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Enterprise Edition.
The decision to choose Intel® and Microsoft to manage the implementation was an easy one. Robert Lacroix, Head of Infrastructure, Asklepios, says: “The consultants really understood our needs and were able to build and deliver appropriate solutions.” The group’s SAP system holds mission-critical information of a sensitive financial and medical nature. If the system went down at any point, the impact would be felt in emergency healthcare clinics in Hamburg.
As a result, Asklepios needed to be confident that its service providers could ensure a smooth transition into the new environment. Intel® Solution Services and Microsoft Services worked together to complete the project in just two-and-a-half months, without interruption. Choosing an infrastructure based on standardised technology was also a significant factor in the decision to work with Microsoft.
Pöttgen says: “Asklepios already uses numerous Microsoft products and we’re convinced we’re better served with a homogeneous Microsoft infrastructure on which we can run a wide variety of programs without having to use third-party applications. Rather than investing in the old systems, it made more sense to switch platforms to Windows Server 2003. In addition, our administrators are more familiar with Microsoft technology.”
The new infrastructure has transformed the way Asklepios will work in the future. By switching its mission-critical SAP software to a Microsoft and Intel® environment, the group can rely on technology that will grow to meet its future requirements, while maintaining the high performance levels the clinics demand. The system changeovers at the end of October 2006 were well prepared and happened without a hitch. Now with eased support efforts, it is possible to deliver high availability at lower costs with a system that integrates seamlessly into our infrastructure.
With so many doctors depending on hospital technology to help them make informed decisions quickly and accurately, it is essential that there is no interruption to the service they receive. The clustering technology in Windows Server 2003 and Multi-Core Intel® Xeon® processor-based Fujitsu-Siemens servers gives Asklepios peace of mind that its infrastructure will always be available, even in the event of failure.
Klaus Paschke, Director of the SAP Replatforming Project, Asklepios, says: “The SQL Server technology has been running for a year now and has been stable throughout. The system hosts one terabyte of data and serves 1,500 users simultaneously. A glance at the figures shows that SAP performance is, on average, 67 per cent higher compared with the previous solution.”
Intel and Microsoft Deliver an Exceptional Service
A key success of the system changeover project was the way in which Intel and Microsoft combined their expertise to achieve outstanding results. After careful planning and support, the two service providers were able to implement the new technology in a matter of hours. On Saturday, the old system was shut down at 17:00 and, within 10 hours, the Oracle database with all the hospital’s operational data—such as financial, patient, and materials logistics data—was migrated to the SQL Server database. On Sunday, the system was up and running again. Lacroix says: “The system changeovers at the end of October 2006 were well prepared and happened without a hitch. Now, with eased support efforts, it is possible to deliver high availability at lower costs with a system that integrates seamlessly into our infrastructure.”
New Solution is Scalable and Easy to Manage
With a standardised infrastructure, the group’s IT staff are finding the new infrastructure easier to manage. In the past, Asklepios found that it needed to employ specially trained SUN and Oracle experts—it can now make use of its internal resources rather than recruiting expensive third parties. Asklepios can also extend and manage its IT environment more easily.
With a new scalable environment, the group is well placed to meet the demands of a fast-growing business. Lacroix says: “By transforming the way we operate through the implementation of cutting-edge technology, we aim to blaze a trail for the whole industry to follow. It’s essential that we take advantage of the new IT capabilities available to us, and, with the expertise of Intel and Microsoft, we are confident that Asklepios will realise the potential of these opportunities for the benefit of everyone.”
Hospital Makes Substantial Savings with a Cost-Effective Solution
The introduction of Windows Server 2003 along with new hardware, licences, and consultation services equates to the same financial investment as a single Oracle upgrade. In addition, Asklepios is making ongoing savings as a result of dispensing with the SUN maintenance contracts. Pöttgen says: “In business terms, we’ve really hit the bull’s eye.”
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