Q&A with Darryl Meidinger, Director of Technical Services at Univita Health

In a recent conversation with Darryl Meidinger, Director of Technical Services at Univita Health, we learned why they chose NetApp, what benefits they are seeing and more. Find out what he had to say in the Q&A below.


Welcome to NetApp 360! Can you tell us about Univita and your responsibilities at the company?


Darryl Meidinger: Sure. I’m director of Technical Services at Univita Health in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. We’re a home-based care provider focused on helping people live and age with independence. We’re capable of providing a range of home care services, from basic assistance to more complex home medical care. Data storage and Internet technologies play an important part in everything we do. For example, our web portal is instrumental in how we communicate with providers and caregivers, coordinate scheduling, handle payment, and more. My team and I are responsible for making sure our 2,200 employ­ees spread over 8 locations have fast, always available access to the network and the data required to get their jobs done.


Tell us what made Univita decide to reexamine its data storage infrastructure?


DM: In a word: growth. Recent mergers and acquisitions, expansion of services, and other major changes required us to bolster our data center infrastructure, especially its storage environment as we were running short of disk space on the SAN. In just three years, our data volume had grown from 200TB to over 1 PB.


We were also concerned about our ability to maintain network up time during this period of growth. It was becoming increasingly diffi­cult to meet SLAs given the growing demands on IT from across the organization. For example, our pharmacy division needed timely delivery of orders and faxes received electroni­cally so it could, in turn, deliver on phar­maceutical requirements. The Durable Medical Goods Division required real-time data for inventory tracking. Nursing needed uninterrupted data availability while also being able to adhere to inten­sified Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requirements. Maintaining our SLAs is mission critical, as failing to do so would expose us to serious penalties from HIPAA and the insurance companies we work with.


What course of action did Univita take?


DM: We contacted CDW, a leading provider of network technology solutions and a NetApp partner, to help us design a new storage infrastructure featuring a dual-data-center configuration. We also needed a network with improved disaster recovery backup capabilities to meet our SLAs, as well as the flexibility and efficiency that would allow us to maximize every dollar of our limited IT budget.


We decided the best move would be to migrate from our legacy storage systems to a unified storage architecture based on NetApp FAS3160 and now 6240 clustered storage systems for both our primary and secondary data centers.  We use a variety of NetApp software solutions to manage data backup and minimize recovery time in the event of a network outage.


To reduce network latency and improve throughput, we also began using the NetApp Flash Cache software.  It provides a faster user experience on our network and website for both our internal team and our customers.


What benefits have you seen since the move to NetApp?


DM: The benefits have been remarkable and have touched multiple areas of our business. For example, our SLA problems have been addressed as the network’s restore time has dropped from over 8 hours to less than 40 minutes. Productivity is up as many of the IT tasks we used to handle manually are now automated thanks to the NetApp software suite. That same automation also allows us to keep a leaner, more efficient IT team in place and free up additional IT budget for future projects. Of our 2,200 employees, only 65 are in IT production support and only one and a half resources support the storage environment.


The data growth we have experienced in recent years is typical of most healthcare providers. Advances in electronic health record (EHR) technology and healthcare-related legislation are driving a data boom that we need to stay in front of it.  NetApp’s storage solutions are helping us do just that.