At a Glance
- Accommodating the growing transactions of patients’ data and accounting
- Processes and considerations made to ensure a smooth go-live
- Benefits and feedback received from an upgraded system
Flash Storage Migration to H-Cloud leads to 2X Faster Response in Patient Management Patient Accounting (PMPA) System
National Healthcare Group (NHG) and
National University Health System (NUHS) SAP
Patient Management Patient Accounting (PMPA) system was one of the first systems to migrate into the new flash storage. In total, 95 terabytes, or about 95,000 gigabytes was moved to the new H-Cloud flash storage within a week, without any disruption during the entire process.
This is a significant milestone for many as the database now responds twice as fast! This is also possibly one of Singapore’s largest system storage migrations in recent years. Find out why the migration was necessary, its benefits, as well as the journey behind it.
Benefits of an Upgraded Patient Management Patient Accounting (PMPA) System in new H-Cloud flash storage
Post flash storage migration, the following six rewards were reaped:
- Improvement in storage response time, up to
8x its former speed, from 0.015s to less than 0.002s;
- Reduced time needed to back up, of up to
5.5x, from 33 hours to 6 hours only;
- Faster SAP database response time by
2x, from 0.3s to 0.15s;
- Faster reorganisation of the SAP database that had a reduced impact on production;
- Improved stability, with no complications after a month of close monitoring; and
- Faster SAP transactions and reports were generated.
The NHG and NUHS SAP
Patient Management Patient Accounting (PMPA) system is responsible for the management of patients and accounting in public hospitals. It is one of the most important systems for both clusters as it has a significant amount of daily transactional volume and data storage.
All the back-end improvements mentioned above has led to an improvement in user experience and satisfaction, due to the 15% improvement in front-end transaction response time. Healthcare staff have also reported an increase in efficiency in patients’ billing-related functions and reports, as well as SAP business object reports that also completed at a faster rate with no disruptions.
Storage Area Network (SAN) in H-Cloud: Accommodates Large Volumes of Data in Patient Management Patient Accounting (PMPA) System
Prior to the flash storage migration, the SAP systems were running on traditional hard disks that tend to be slower in speed. Remember the old hard disks found in laptops? Whenever data was accessed, these disks emitted whirring and clicking sounds. The implementation of the improved Storage Area Network (SAN) storage in H-Cloud is critical to accommodate growing databases.
Hence, a long-term solution is required to ensure that the performance of the database is maintained.
H-Cloud’s flash storage is a data storage technology that leverages high performance storage devices to achieve the long-term goal of accommodating the transaction of large volumes of data.
Last year, it was out with the old, and in with the new as IHiS’ H-Cloud introduced the latest technology of SAN storage. The term ‘SAN storage’ is derived from an enterprise, centralised storage area as all servers are tapping on shared resources. This means that the servers are connected to a backend storage, and this storage helps connect users to the database system. In a nutshell, this upgrade from the old hard disks to memory storage is essential as it uses electronic, instead of mechanical reading of disks to access data. This makes the
new SAN storage faster in speed and better in performance.
Embarking on one of Singapore’s Largest Healthcare Database Migration Journey
The journey of the implementation of the migration project first began in early 2020, as IHiS worked closely with storage vendor Hitachi Vantara to plan for a migration that minimised network downtime and had minimal disruption. To implement the migration, the team was presented with two proposals:
- Traditional method of bringing the system down to copy the entire database or the
- Non-Disruptive Migration (NDM) procedure.
With the first proposal, the data integrity of the database would be kept intact. However, as the database is mission-critical and extensive, this option would require all computers to be switched off with downtime of at least two days - this would significantly impact healthcare operations.
the second proposal allows data to be copied seamlessly even while computers are running, leading to increased productivity and efficiency of operations. This non-disruptive data migration technology ensures that data between source and target storages are synchronised. The concept is similar to editing a word document on Google Docs, where multiple users are able to update a document simultaneously, with the data synchronised in real-time.
Therefore, the decision to use the Non-Disruptive Migration (NDM) procedure was agreed upon. In September 2020, IHiS teams, H-Cloud UNIX, Backup, Storage and Data Centre joined hands with vendors Hitachi, Fujitsu and IBM to begin the work of storage migration.
Non-Disruptive Migration (NDM) Process
In preparation for the Non-Disruptive Migration (NDM) procedure, preparation works including the confirmation of migration schedule, testing, raising of requests, and seeking approvals from users and staff went ahead at full steam. IHiS’ H-Cloud team supported the technical preparation works, including laying additional fibre cables from the servers to the new storage and ensuring a smooth data transfer flow from the old to new storage space.
In the lead up to the actual flash storage migration, the teams’ resilience were put to the test as they conducted round-the-clock checks to avoid hiccups. These checks include storage performance contention, which may slow the SAP system down.
During the week of production migration, IHiS’ Storage, UNIX and Basis teams assembled a command centre in H-Cloud Data Centres 1 and 2 to run a 24/7 round-the-clock shift, in order to closely monitor the migration process.
In October 2020, their hard work paid off as the team successfully completed the migration slightly ahead of schedule. The early completion of the flash storage migration served as an added security bonus as it meant a reduced risk in exposure of the system. To ensure a seamless transition of databases, post storage migration checks were done for a week – IHiS’ Storage, UNIX SAP Basis and SAP application teams conducted frequent checks on the performance on the storage, system and applications.
Challenges Faced during Non-Disruptive Migration (NDM) to New H-Cloud
In preparation for the storage migration, one notable challenge was the
magnitude of the database that the SAP Patient Management Patient Accounting (PMPA) system was operating - 95,000 gigabytes. To ensure that the entire database was copied from the old to the new H-Cloud storage was no easy feat, and even more so under tight timelines. Furthermore, the team had to ensure that the integrity of data was unaltered and reporting services were still available. Despite the challenge of tight timelines and ensuring the extensive database was migrated without alterations, the team stimulated the migration approach in the Development, UAT and Pre-Production servers prior to the actual week of storage migration.
Multiple check-points such as the configuration of storage, data validation and backup were set in place to verify that the integrity of the data was intact. These safeguards were essential to avoid the possible complication of data corruption and service that may adversely impact the Production, Disaster Recovery and Reporting servers. With much planning and teamwork, the team successfully pulled off an early storage migration!
Feedback from Our Healthcare Partners
"I can see the improvement to the SAP performance after the SAN migration to patients’ billing-related functions and various reports. For instance, the 1Bill Invoice Overview, Case Overview, Case details and CCPS/MCPS-related transactions. Thank you to the SAP Team!"
Ngian Wee Teck, Senior Account Assistant, Business Office Finance (JurongHealth Campus)
"Huge thank you to the IHiS SAP Team! I have seen a tremendous improvement in speed, in particular on my reports, after the SAP migration to the Flash SAN Storage. Previously, I would receive timeout messages whenever long reports were run but now, these reports can be completed without any difficulties and at a faster speed."
Chen Chee Wee, Assistant Manager, Finance (Yishun Health)