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Into a green hospital.

India, March 2 -- As medical tourism in the country is booming, the healthcare industry in India has started leveraging IT like never before to offer services at par with their global counterparts. Healthcare industry in India is still amongst the lowest spenders of IT globally. However, there are some early adopters like the Calcutta Medical Research Institute (CMRI), which is a 400-plus bed multi specialty care provider open round the clock. Set up in 1969, CMRI is an ISO 9001: 2000 certified institution. CMRI has tie up with Cleveland Clinic Foundation, the No. 1 Heart Hospital in America for 10 years in a row, to provide international healthcare.

The company is in the expansion mode and is in the process of starting two more hospitals including one in Jaipur. Once these facilities are established, three more hospitals would be opened in different locations. The challenge before this growing company, which is a part of the CK Birla Group, was to ensure that cost was kept under control while they offered better services to their customers. Also, aware of its environmental responsibilities, going green turned out to be the only option for them to achieve this.

As Vishnu Gupta, CIO, CMRI says, "We realised early that virtualisation could not only help us reduce costs, but would also help streamline processes and enable us to go green." As a first step towards going green, the company looked at deploying desktop virtualisation. Gupta decided to do a pilot with NComputing's desktop virtualisation solution at the hospital's library. The pilot turned out to be highly successful. From five PCs, the requirement came down to only 1 PC with 5 monitors. The company has already started saving money on power - usage has reduced from 130 watts to around 12 watts.

Desktop virtualisation contributed towards increasing the operational efficiency by reducing the downtime of hardware and sharing the resources of high-end terminals. These terminals would use the resources of a single high-end PC, while giving the same operational output.

"We have multiple departments which use specific software solutions for their day-to -day operations," Gupta says. "The licensing cost for each terminal within that department increases." Moreover with many such software solutions requiring specific hardware, replacing such terminals with thin clients became a smart option.

"Since thin clients have the capacity to replicate any machine's resources over multiple terminals, we have been able to reduce hardware-specific machines," says Gupta, who has received complete backing from his management in his initiatives.

This meant a corresponding reduction in the related "housekeeping and maintenance" activities. The power consumed by the thin clients was "negligible compared to conventional CPUs," he avers.

The company leverages Web applications extensively due to which most of the work at the hospital doesn't require the executives to store any data on the system. Thus, the system whose resources are shared with four other PCs, can do with a standard desktop hard drive. The extensive use of web apps also reduces the cost of software licenses and maintenance.

The company is now testing NComputing's enterprise offering wherein one high- end desktop with about 16-32GB RAM would be able to support upto 38 PCs. The deployment would further reduce the cost of desktops, and also greatly reduce the UPS costs that the company had to bear earlier.

Usually it is a challenge to buy within the budgets for a new IT deployment. But Gupta didn't face any such challenge. "The cost savings were so appealing that the management didn't think twice before approving the budgets for it," he says.

Consolidating the infrastructure

As the next phase of greening the organisation, the company is looking at consolidation. With CMRI's operations increasing as a result of several new facilities in the pipeline, the company has decided to consolidate its entire IT infrastructure in one place. Instead of servers being setup at various locations, CMRI would now have a common data centre serving all the hospitals. Virtualisation would be a key element to fulfill this need.

"We have been using Microsoft's HyperV technology for a while and would continue to use it for non-critical workflows. HyperV has also helped us acquaint to virtualisation. Now, that we understand virtualisation technology well, we're doing a PoC to run our critical applications in a virtualised environment using VMWare virtualisation server," Gupta opined.

"Once we are able to consolidate our hospital infrastructure in one place, the next step would be to consolidate IT infrastructure in other CK Birla Group companies," he says. The consolidation would be guided by Gupta and would enable an internal cloud for the entire CK Birla group, which would help the company reduce its carbon footprint significantly.

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Publication:The CTO Forum
Geographic Code:9INDI
Date:Mar 2, 2011
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