In some ways, it’s a problem you’d love to have: a large budget and the ability to start from scratch on your IT for a brand-new building. Design your own data center, buy new equipment, don’t skimp. For some IT directors, it’s a dream project, but the thought of dealing with all those vendors is also potentially overwhelming.
That’s why MicroAge’s Shawn Anderson got the call when the IT director for Samuel Simmonds Memorial Hospital in Barrow, Alaska, was in the planning stages for its new facility a few years ago.
“I’d been a single source for their IT needs for many years,” Shawn says. “For this project, we outfitted the whole building (350 users) as well as the data center.” The previous main data center was kept as a DR site.
When you’re above the Arctic Circle, a reliable, sustainable IT infrastructure is critical.
With a significant budget and a clean slate, Shawn and his client had their work cut out for them. They also had some special considerations due to Barrow’s remote location. (It’s the northernmost city in the United States; 11th northernmost in the world.)
“We had to build in plenty of redundancy and make sure we had equipment on the shelf too — because you can’t wait two days for a piece of equipment to be delivered should something go down,” explains Adam Y. Smith, RHSO, RSM, IANCICI, Information Systems Administrator for Samuel Simmonds Memorial Hospital. “We did every server, every switch, every stick of memory, every thin client, every phone … It was all purposely put in. It was as robust and reliable as possible.”
Plus, with an IT shop of just four, Adam knew it was important to make sure that good processes were in place to ensure his team could be as efficient as possible.
“We tried to keep things simple while ensuring reliability and sustainability,” he adds. “A lot of planning and thought also went into how to allow for future growth.”
Part of their goal was to standardize. To accommodate that goal, Dell and HP represent most of hardware. With a virtualized data center, the hospital is mostly a virtualized desktop environment as well.
For the data center, the hospital went with Dell PowerEdge servers, Dell EqualLogic FS7600 SANs and HPE networking as well Unitrends and APC for backup.
The solution also included:
- Dell laptops and OptiPlex Small Form Factor desktops
- HPE 5800 series switches
- HP MFP printers
- NComputing L300 Thin Clients
- Complete Mitel phone solution, including the 5540 IP console and 5360 IP phones
- LG monitors and televisions
- Dell SonicWall E-Class firewall and wireless
- Barco MDRC-2124 dental displays
“MicroAge warehoused all of that product for them for three months. We checked everything when it came in, and I was there when we shipped it,” Shawn says. “We RFID tagged everything and took pictures as well to make sure we had it all accounted for.”
Planes, trucks and barges.
After a truck ride to Seattle, a barge to Anchorage and flights to Fairbanks then Barrow, all of the hospital’s IT equipment arrived. A MicroAge service partner assisted with the installation, and IT was ready when the hospital opened.
“Everything has been running smoothly ever since,” Shawn says.
Adam says they’ve been maintaining a 99 percent uptime. Part of what makes that possible is the redundancy plan. “We do everything in triplicate,” Adam says. “That’s why we’re able to have that kind of uptime in a place where that wouldn’t normally happen.”
He attributes the ongoing success to early-stage planning.
“Things don’t always work out in reality the way you plan them on paper,” he notes. “But it’s been two years, and I can happily report back that what we planned for on paper has become a successful reality.”
And MicroAge was essential to achieving that success, he adds.
“It’s more than buying stuff. It really truly is a relationship,” Adam says. “Shawn and MicroAge were definitely a strategic partner in making this a reality.”
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