Modernizing Aging Infrastructure

Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center

Wake Forest Baptist is an integrated health system that operates 1,004 acute care, rehabilitation and psychiatric care beds, outpatient services, and community health and information centers. The Medical Center Campus is located in Winston – Salem, NC.

We needed a partner that we knew could execute. We couldn’t risk failure.

Chad Eckes, Executive Vice President and CFO

The Challenge

Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center had an immediate need to upgrade its aging and costly infrastructure. What was the primary reason for the upgrade? The Medical Center’s uptime was being severely compromised.

In the healthcare arena today, that is a challenging scenario for any CIO or CFO. “Over 12 % of our equipment was over 11 years old, 64% of our equipment was over 7 years old, and we were only seeing 87% uptime as a result,” says Chad Eckes, the Medical Center’s Executive Vice President and CFO. Eckes says, “We had to fix this immediately. In today’s world, IT sits in between the physician and the patient. So, it’s imperative for a healthcare IT department to keep their systems up 100 percent of the time. This was a patient safety and a patient care requirement.” 

As a result, Wake Forest Baptist went in search of an IT partner that understood their business and could build a system that would provide 100% uptime. It also needed a partner that could provide the financial models to prove that the investment in new technology would provide a long-term benefit without risk of failure.

Partnering With AHEAD

After investigating multiple IT solutions providers, the Wake Forest Baptist chose AHEAD, a company that is known for helping enterprise clients innovate, including with converged infrastructure.

Eckes says, “We were able to cross off every single criterion with AHEAD. AHEAD has a service offering that focuses on strategy.” He adds, “They actually have team members that focus on the financial aspects, they have deep relationships with EMC, VMware, Cisco, VCE-all of the leading edge partners in the industry. The fact that they were chosen as VCE’s Global Partner of the Year was also reassuring. Experience in converged infrastructure was a requirement, and that’s another reason we chose AHEAD. When we visited VCE, they raved about the partnership with AHEAD because they have the strongest engineers that know their platform.”

Eckes also says, “AHEAD really brings forth a unique strength in that they focus on strategy, in terms of infrastructure, and they help you really craft a plan that will ensure 100 percent uptime and a stable environment, but they also take a view of how you can maximize your investment over time. We liked that they could improve our performance in IT at the greatest value possible.”

The Solution: A Strategy Engagement With AHEAD

The solution to Wake Forest Baptist’s needs was a strategy consulting engagement with AHEAD. After a comprehensive “as-is” assessment of the network, the technology that was chosen from the strategy session was Vblock from VCE.

“We had the perfect storm of needs,” says Eckes. “We needed to replace our networking gear, our storage, and our servers at the same time. And that’s what converged infrastructure brings to the table all at once.” He says, “Vblock simplifies everything. Before, I had five different types of storage. I had six, seven different types of servers. There was no brand standard for consistency so you had to have different skill sets on the team for every one of those platforms. In converged infrastructure, it’s one technology. And a lot of the maintenance and support is done by VCE and AHEAD.”

They have truly been an end to end partner, starting with our strategy sessions, converting that strategy to a tactical plan, helping us figure out how we could finance the plan, and then actually doing the technical install on the back end. AHEAD made a promise, they helped us plan out how to fulfill that promise, and then they were sitting side by side with us as we executed that promise.

Chad Eckes, Executive Vice President and CFO

The Results

The benefits of the Vblock implementation and the partnership with AHEAD, according to Eckes, are being felt throughout the Medical Center, starting with the bottom line.

“The most impressive thing is that our maintenance and support costs have gone down from 44 percent of our budget, to ten percent. And, our environment now is able to be fully usable. In the past, we had silos of systems all over the place. We had eight petabytes of storage, we had almost 1600 servers, and you would find available capacity in all of these individual storage systems.” He adds, “You can’t use that across the different systems, unfortunately. So now that we are all in one large private cloud, we can make full utilization of that capacity and use it to its maximum ability.”

Eckes also says there’s something to be said for a CFO or CIO and others to rest easy at night knowing that when it comes to uptime and future considerations, it’s all systems go. “I don’t worry about system uptime anymore. Now we have an infrastructure that is rock solid. The other thing that I’m most impressed with is our future capabilities. This solution was not just designed for today, but it’s something that will provide the architectural platform for ten years to come.”

“The system performs so much better than our old legacy equipment does, so the response time is significant, says Eckes. “When you look at a clinical enterprise that yields more patients being able to be seen by a physician. If you think how many times that physician touches their system daily, stripping out one-third of their time with each individual keystroke, at the end of the day could save them a half hour to an hour where another patient could be seen.”

Lastly, thanks to the partnership and the new vision that’s been provided by AHEAD, there’s a new era of excitement behind the scenes that will impact the Medical Center in more ways than one.

“On the IT side of the house,” says Eckes, “it’s an exciting time period for the team. The team can now work in an environment that is leading edge versus technologies that can be five, seven, or ten years old, and it’s all been made possible by AHEAD.”

In Their Own Words

“We were replacing an aged technology to bring us up to more modern platforms and help us grow into the future.”

Shelia Hartness, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center