Rubrik backup for Nutanix HCI makes hospitals' IT healthy

Hospitals' IT team liked Nutanix hyper-converged infrastructure for primary storage so much, it went with converged backup vendor Rubrik for data protection.

CarePoint Health, which formed through the convergence of three New Jersey hospitals, also uses a converged IT infrastructure for primary and secondary storage.

CarePoint Health runs three Hudson County hospitals that it acquired out of bankruptcy between 2008 and 2012. Each of those hospitals -- Christ Hospital in Jersey City, Hoboken University Medical Center and Bayonne Medical Center -- had separate IT infrastructure and staffs. Years of consolidation took it down to a single CIO and common IT infrastructure. Today it relies on a Dell XC hyper-converged platform driven by Nutanix software for its primary storage and compute, and Rubrik backup and disaster recovery through Cloud Data Management appliances.

CarePoint CTO Lev Goronshteyn said when he arrived in 2014, "we had zero backup strategy and really zero infrastructure strategy as a whole." He said only one hospital had a functional backup system. There was no coordination between the three hospitals. Goronshteyn set out to standardize IT across the three hospitals to make CarePoint more competitive from an IT perspective.

CarePoint CTO Lev Goronshteyn Lev Goronshteyn

"Our vision was: We're not going to look at technology as a burden to the company," he said. "We'll look at it as: How is it going to help the company compete? That led to [needing] to get everything out of the hospitals as much as possible and streamline it. We need to make technology as easy as possible to use so we can get projects done on time."

Convergence with Nutanix primary, Rubrik backup storage

CarePoint's first step to convergence was to standardize on a Nutanix hyper-converged infrasctructure (HCI) software stack running on Dell servers in late 2015. Goronshteyn said CarePoint had other Dell products, so it bought the hyper-converged nodes from Dell rather than Nutanix-branded appliances. A year after installing Nutanix on Dell XC, CarePoint switched over from VMware hypervisors to Nutanix's native AHV hypervisor.

After standardizing its primary infrastructure on Nutanix, CarePoint turned to data protection. Goronshteyn said he had been using Commvault software to back up to Hewlett Packard Enterprise 3PAR SANs, but he wanted to make backups simpler. He looked at newcomers Rubrik and Cohesity, who were selling what they called converged or hyper-converged secondary storage.

"I never look at backups as a security policy," he said. "I look at them as 'When am I actually going to have to use them?' rather than if I'm going to have to use them.

"We started to explore who's doing something different from the backup perspective. Who can make our backups simple? I'm in favor of less complexity. The less complex it is, the better it is, so I don't need to retrain my people or add new staff when I install something."

Goronshteyn said he felt Rubrik was more focused on backup and disaster recovery, while Cohesity concentrated on other types of secondary storage that he wasn't interested in. CarePoint bought two Rubrik backup appliances -- integrated with data protection software -- in July 2017.

"Are you a backup company or are you a secondary hyper-converged storage company?" Goronshteyn said, explaining why he picked Rubrik. "Where is your development focus going to? Plus, Rubrik had the best support for Nutanix that we saw from any backup vendor."

With Rubrik backup, it took an hour the first time and now it takes almost no time. And it's simple.
Lev GoronshteynCTO, CarePoint Health

CarePoint still has its 60 TB of picture archiving and communications imaging data on 3PAR arrays but uses Rubrik backup for everything else. That includes around 40 TB of data in the Microsoft Azure cloud for Microsoft Office 365 and other applications. Goronshteyn said he was impressed by Rubrik's native API support for Azure and native encryption. The cloud has replaced tape for CarePoint's DR purposes.

"Now we're able to maintain our long-term retention in Azure, outside of our facilities," Goronshteyn said. "That creates an interesting dynamic. We can spin up our workloads in Azure if we need to. If there's a huge disaster on premises, we can natively just go and spin up VMs in Microsoft and restore our entire VMs and recovery from there. The time to resolution is much quicker."

Streamlining backup and staffing

Goronshteyn said after installing Rubrik backup, CarePoint reduced its backup times from more than eight hours to less than 30 minutes. It can restore a single file in around a minute and an entire virtual machine in less than 20 minutes. He attributes the faster backup and recovery times to Rubrik's use of APIs to integrate with third-party applications and services. That includes API integration for ServiceNow, which CarePoint also uses.

"I couldn't back up file servers before; it took too long," he said. "With Rubrik backup, it took an hour the first time and now it takes almost no time. And it's simple. You set up an SLA, and Rubrik will analyze things and say, 'My system is too busy so I'll postpone these backups until these finish.' There's a lot of intelligence behind the scenes."

Goronshteyn said convergence has also simplified his IT staffing situation. He said CarePoint's IT team of around 120 people includes only infrastructure generalists to manage all infrastructure.

"I said, 'How do we stop this nonsense of constantly adding team members, every time we add a server or a certain number of users?' That's what led us to hyper-convergence," Goronshteyn said. "I don't have to keep adding overhead and can show the company that technology can save money instead of just spending money.

"I wanted to move away from being a company hiring specialists to a company hiring generalists. I want IT people who know enough about all areas that if one person is out, another person can take over."

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