Fraser Health Authority is one of Canada’s largest and fastest growing health authorities, responsible for providing hospital- and community-based health services to over 1.8 million people in British Columbia (BC). Fraser Health operates 12 hospitals across BC, and offers residential care, mental health services, and state-of-the-art outpatient surgeries.
Fraser Health’s 40,000 clinicians, support staff, and volunteers are dedicated to serving patients, families, and communities to deliver on the organization’s vision: better health, best in healthcare.
Wesley Kampff, Portfolio Manager at Fraser Health Authority, takes up the story: “Historically, there was limited opportunity for healthcare employees to work remotely. But over the last few years, demand for remote connectivity has grown.
“At first, this demand was largely driven by administrative use cases, such as enabling our back-office teams to access email and collaboration tools from home. More recently, we identified an opportunity to enhance our operational resilience by enabling clinicians to complete clinical activities remotely.”
Previously, Fraser Health Authority’s healthcare workers could only access electronic healthcare records and systems via smartcard-enabled workstations at the organization’s care facilities. To enable secure, mobile access to these systems, Fraser Health decided to deploy a new IT platform based on Microsoft Windows Server 2016 Remote Desktop Services (RDS).
We decided to replace all on-site workstations with thin clients, enabling remote access from corporate laptops and other authorized devices outside of our internal network. To achieve our goal, we looked for a robust, scalable hardware platform for the new RDS environment." —Wesley Kampff, Portfolio Manager, Fraser Health Authority
Finding the Right Partner
Fraser Health selected the Lenovo ThinkAgile HX3320 Appliance as the platform for its RDS environment, and Lenovo ThinkCentre M625 Tiny and ThinkCentre M715 Tiny desktops as its thin clients.
Kampff comments: “We have used Lenovo PCs in all our hospitals for many years. We already had a great relationship with the Lenovo team, and we knew that Lenovo could support our very complex healthcare environment.
“To streamline maintenance and support, our preference was to engage a single vendor to deliver the workstations and data center solutions. Lenovo’s data center solutions also greatly impressed us. We were confident that replacing our traditional three-tier architecture with the cutting-edge ThinkAgile HX hyperconverged platform would offer the performance, availability, and scalability we wanted.”
Why Lenovo? Seamless Scalability, Speedy Shipping
Fraser Health engaged Microserve—a Lenovo Platinum Partner, and leading provider of IT solutions to Canada’s public sector—to deliver eight Lenovo ThinkAgile HX3320 appliances, built on the Intel® Xeon® Gold processor family, and worked with systems integrator IBM Services to install and configure the cluster.
Combining Lenovo servers, powerful Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors and Nutanix Enterprise Cloud software, the Lenovo ThinkAgile HX platform pools compute and storage resources in a single virtualized structure for flexible resource allocation and seamless scalability.
Lenovo’s flexible, scalable, and reliable hyperconverged solution is the ideal platform to support our critical Remote Desktop Services environment." —Wesley Kampff, Portfolio Manager, Fraser Health Authority
Reacting Fast to the Coronavirus Crisis
Fraser Health had only recently begun testing the new RDS solution when the COVID-19 crisis hit. The pandemic changed everything. Initially, Fraser Health had sized the environment to support 1,000 remote workers. As local lockdowns swept across Canada, the organization needed to build out the RDS environment so that it could support 10,000 remote users.
“We maxed out the memory of our existing appliances, and ordered eight additional ThinkAgile HX3320 nodes to expand capacity,” recalls Kampff. “My team was under immense pressure to prepare for 10,000 remote users within a very tight deadline. Lenovo went above and beyond to get the hardware shipped to us in record time. Considering that COVID-19 brought the world to a standstill, the fact that Lenovo managed to get the hardware to us so quickly was a huge achievement.”
He adds: “Once the hardware arrived, it was as simple as adding the new nodes to the cluster and the virtualized resources were available in the Nutanix Prism management tool.”
We were able to expand capacity in next to no time with the new hyperconverged infrastructure—a fraction of the time it would have taken to stand up a three-tier infrastructure." —Wesley Kampff, Portfolio Manager, Fraser Health Authority
With the Lenovo ThinkAgile HX platform underpinning its RDS environment, Fraser Health has the capacity to support up to 10,000 remote workers—helping it to deliver high-quality patient services in a period of unprecedented disruption.
“We currently have around 3,000 people regularly using RDS to work from home and typically support 1,500 concurrent users a day,” says Kampff. “Crucially, we can support many more people working remotely at a moment’s notice if the need arises. We see that remote connectivity is more than just a short-term response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s part of our long-term strategy to ensure we can deliver vital health services no matter what.”
Today, clinicians and back-office teams can access the applications and data they need to work effectively from home via RDS, securely and reliably. For those working on-site, Fraser Health is planning to deploy compact Lenovo ThinkCentre M625 Tiny and ThinkCentre M715 Tiny desktops to replace the legacy workstations.
“We’re confident that thin clients from Lenovo will make it even easier for our employees to access the digital tools they need to support our patients,” says Kampff. “We have always found Lenovo equipment to be very reliable and performant, and the ThinkAgile HX platform lives up to our expectations. Our second batch of HX3320 nodes feature 2nd Gen Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors and we’ve been impressed with the performance of the new chipset.”
Sound strategic planning, identifying the correct architectural solution, and solid teamwork with our partners from Microserve and Lenovo made it possible to deliver and implement the Remote Desktop Solution solution quickly and efficiently." —Wesley Kampff, Portfolio Manager, Fraser Health Authority