“Now that we have Netreo, we are no longer in crisis mode. We went from firefighting to fire prevention, with everything in one looking glass. And we’re saving $100,000 per year through network resource optimization.”
Founded in 1943, TRA Medical Imaging has a mission to offer innovative medical imaging in the communities they serve.
The company operates a network of eight medical imaging clinics in the Tacoma, Washington area, utilizing the latest medical imaging technology — PET scans, MRIs, neurointerventional procedures, and 3D mammography.
A staff of specialized radiologists reads radiology images remotely for eight hospitals in Washington and Oregon, enabling those hospitals to provide specialized services to their communities.
“We have a very complex environment,” said Duleep Wikramanayake, TRA Medical Imaging’s Chief Information Officer. “We have five physical servers in our virtual cluster, which hosts about 150 virtual servers, and every one of them is monitored. The virtual environment serves five main applications — accounting, radiology information systems, our Picture and Archiving Communication System (PACS), a mammography reading system, and voice recognition dictation of radiology reports.”
“The impact of Netreo has been phenomenal,” he said.
Each application at TRA Medical is integrated with the others, and all of them have corresponding test and development environments. The IT staff needs to monitor everything, and it is all tightly integrated. They do continuous testing to make sure that all new changes do not negatively affect any of the integrations already in place.
“We have more than 50 virtual desktops that help our users work on multiple sessions to test new applications without compromising their production desktop environment. In addition, our physicians can read images wherever they are,” Wikramanayake said.
“With eight imaging centers and eight hospitals in our group, generating images from close to a million procedures a year for us to read, you can imagine the amount of data crossing our network — in the neighborhood of 100 gigabytes or more per day. All of these images need to transfer in a matter of seconds, so our network health is extremely critical to our business.”
The previous monitoring solution used by the company was not up to the task. Part of the problem was that it had not been set up properly.
“We looked at Netreo for about a day and determined it was far superior to our previous solution. In my opinion, there was no comparison. Netreo solves our problems far more elegantly and cost effectively than our previous solution, and it does it all in one place. This was also possible because our senior network engineer, who introduced Netreo to TRA Medical, was well-versed with application settings and how to optimize everything,” he added.
One of the biggest benefits of Netreo is that it has enabled TRA Medical to be proactive. The IT team has been able to shift its focus from resolving unplanned incidents to planned work that prevents downtime. For example, when IT sees a problem with an application, they take action to manage expectations, alerting users even before the problem becomes obvious. By sending an email that says, “Our apologies, we are aware of the problem with the application and are working to resolve it,” the IT team avoids mass calls to the help desk and the associated user frustration.
TRA Medical has extended its monitoring to vendors’ devices. Their PACS servers, a critical element of their network, are provided and maintained by third-party vendors who do not perform their own monitoring. In the past, when a PACS drive failed, users would be affected. If a second disk went down, the entire server could crash, requiring at least 36 hours of downtime while IT restored the server.
Because this type of downtime can be disastrous in the health-care industry, TRA Medical now uses Netreo to monitor applications managed by outside vendors.
With the challenges of unexpected downtime and recovery solved, TRA Medical has turned its attention to optimizing the performance of its network environment, including bandwidth, compute power, and storage. Wikramanayake said his conservative estimate of their savings was $100,000 in the year after they implemented Netreo.
“We had one connection that was costing about $3,300 monthly because it was a long distance, 100-megabit connection, and Netreo helped us realize it was barely using 40 megabits. With that information, we were able to go to our provider and request that they replace the existing connection with one that used less bandwidth, and thus reduced our cost. We have done that with 12 high-bandwidth connections, and no one has complained that they are slow. In addition to these savings, we were able to improve our carrier diversity and create connection redundancy at critical connection points, such as hospitals and data centers.”
The company has done the same thing with compute power, Wikramanayake reported.
“We can look at Netreo and say, ‘This server has four CPUs, and it’s barely using one. We will drop two and put them to good use somewhere else.’ Netreo gives us the information to help us reallocate resources in a way that’s cost-effective and with no guesswork, because we can go back in time and look at the data and view trends.”
TRA Medical has also been able to use Netreo to trend storage usage, so they receive early notification when storage units need to be upgraded. Prior to their Netreo implementation, gathering this information would have been a special project, but the data is now readily available. This has resulted in cost avoidance, because they can now easily optimize their storage.
“We are a 24×7 operation, 365 days per year, so our monitoring needs to happen in real time. We do not even have to look at the dashboard unless we want to, because Netreo sends us automatic alerts so that we know about problems long before our users do, and that makes our job much easier. This is one of the first IT departments I have worked in that I would call quiet and peaceful,” he said.
Healthcare and Radiology
Eight medical imaging centers in the Tacoma, Washington area, plus image reading for eight hospitals in a 200-mile radius
TRA Medical Imaging needed continuous, 24x7x365 monitoring of network availability, performance, response time, and SLA compliance. Netreo was there to monitor trends to analyze and prevent issues before they ever affect users and save the organization more than $100,000 annually.Applications