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Pure Storage enables healthcare org's cloud Kubernetes

Pure Storage's Portworx products and AWS managed EKS service creates digital infrastructure for CHG Healthcare, enabling faster app development and portability across clouds.

CHG Healthcare Services, a medical staffing firm based in Midvale, Utah, handles requests to connect hospitals and medical facilities with doctors and nurses for temporary or long-term coverage akin to a concierge service.

Lately, however, CHG Healthcare's professional clients have asked for the ability to factor in their transport, schedules and other daily tasks on their own with self-service apps.

Reed Glauser, director of platform engineering at CHG Healthcare, saw the shift in demand as an opportunity to modernize infrastructure and prepare future development for new client-facing applications.

Glauser and his team adopted Kubernetes through the managed AWS Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS) to develop applications that can keep pace with technology demands, be widely deployed and save on cloud storage costs. He also chose Portworx by Pure Storage for persistent Kubernetes storage and uses Portworx PX-Backup service to create persistent volume backups.

Future proofing

Today, applications to connect medical professionals to healthcare facilities are used by CHG employees only, but Glauser said there's opportunity to develop these applications further for doctors and nurses to use themselves. Reaching that point will require creating the infrastructure today, Glauser said, along with understanding what services and data CHG should offer clients, such as open scheduling times or nearby hotels, through future apps.

Reed Glauser, director of platform engineering, CHG HealthcareReed Glauser

"We need more applications to track data because [if a client is] on assignment at a hospital, what does that look like," he said. "The apps we develop are internal because of that business pattern we had of focusing on the concierge service. I think we'll see that digital side grow."

To Glauser, Kubernetes containers made sense to develop cloud-focused applications that could run across many devices from smartphones to PCs while avoiding on-premises data center sprawl. That also means adopting an infrastructure-as-code strategy to enable developers and ITOps teams to manage and provision resources within coding software. The stateless nature of Kubernetes storage requires connecting apps to persistent storage via code.

"We really try to focus on infrastructure-as-code, using [HashiCorp] Terraform specifically," he said. "[We're able to use] these different cloud providers and develop our code in a way that we just have variables we can shift."

He noted many developers and engineers he's worked with have experience with Kubernetes, which enables CHG's technology teams to maintain functionality while making rapid changes and iterating.

"You can move within those [Kubernetes] guardrails and you can move as quickly as you like, which increases your developer experience, your happiness, et cetera, to really develop good code overall," he said.

Pure selection

Glauser specifically praised the ability of Portworx PX-Backup to simplify storing container snapshots and enabling developer experimentation with code separate from applications that must remain functioning.

"We can take all these snapshots of all our container instances, move them around, migrate them, whatever it may be, as well as have a rotation on a backup schedule," he said.

Within the [IT] industry, AWS isn't the [storage] winner, but it's easier [to adopt] because of the skills that are out there today.
Reed GlauserDirector of platform engineering, CHG Healthcare

Portworx PX-Backup also helped save his team from some headaches and heartaches following a failed Apache Kafka migration to AWS.

"We had the potential of data loss, but we didn't lose data thanks to PX-Backup," he said. "We had an opportunity to understand what is the path for Kafka migration and persistent volumes around that workload."

CHG currently uses AWS due to the ubiquity of the S3 object storage protocol and the sheer number of available tools along with developer familiarity. But Glauser didn't count out the possibility of using other cloud platforms as the services mature and the prices drop to create competition.

"Within the [IT] industry, AWS isn't the [storage] winner, but it's easier [to adopt] because of the skills that are out there today," he said.

He expects further application development to remain cloud focused, especially as more and more developers train for architectures based entirely in the cloud.

"The next evolution of hardware is going to be the next evolution of cloud providers," he said. "A multi-cloud world is accelerating but the tooling has to be in place for us to do that."

Tim McCarthy is a journalist living in the North Shore of Massachusetts. He covers cloud and data storage news.

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