Robert Leake

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Anticipating Your Organization's Growing Pains

by Robert Leake on 9/30/20 11:16 AM

The third in a series of posts that explores the vital signs of a healthcare system’s critical infrastructure, this blog looks at growth at the healthcare edge and lays out the key considerations for ensuring your infrastructure has an agile skeletal system, accommodating changes in healthcare delivery models and the exponential growth of healthcare data.

Growing pains aren’t unique to people. Organizations of all types experience them as they attempt to stretch already strained resources to handle increased demands. Healthcare may be one of the most impacted industries with the influx of patient-generated health data and the growth of remote outpatient sites.

According to an IDC report, The Digitization of the World From Edge to Core, healthcare data is projected to experience a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 36% through 2025. That’s enough data to fill 12 quadrillion miles worth notebook paper laid end to end, circling the earth 485 billion times! These organizations are struggling with how to store, manage, analyze, and secure the immense influx of information from established and ever-emerging technologies (i.e. EHR, digital imaging, IoMT, artificial intelligence, telemedicine, and wearables). As the volume continues to grow exponentially, they need a healthy infrastructure that can scale with it.

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While today’s healthcare organizations cannot afford to overprovision, they do need ways to add capacity quickly as needed. Like the human body’s skeletal system, their infrastructure must provide scalable, flexible, around-the-clock support and the highest level of protection as data and equipment are added.

Keys to building scalability and agility into your infrastructure:

  • Future proof your strategy with modular products that can support anticipated growth. Modular products give organizations the flexibility to grow as they go, reducing upfront costs and eliminating overprovisioning. Many modular products are available today, including:

    • Modular UPS. “Bricks” of power and battery modules can be added or removed according to output power requirements. These products not only support flexibility and scalability needed for edge applications, but also improve energy efficiency, serviceability, and availability at the same time.
    • High density modular cooling. As power demands increase, so do cooling requirements. Cooling solutions for high heat density systems are available in open or closed architecture, and pumped refrigerant-based or water-based technology. By using optional pre-charged flexible piping with threaded quick connect fittings, they allow for expansion without interruption of cooling operations.
    • Alternative thermal solutions. These solutions fit easily into racks within environments managing heat in small spaces and makes cooling possible in places where traditional equipment simply won’t fit. The Vertiv VRC offers the convenience of a plug and play solution with three heat rejection options, energy-efficient features, and scalable capacity, allowing IT managers to quickly add cooling when and where it’s needed.
    • Modular rack PDUs. Choose intelligent systems that easily integrate with your data center infrastructure management system, enabling yourself to stay on top of power usage and adapt to changing business needs as you grow.
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Considering the need for connectivity and visibility with each new asset you deploy, along with how those assets will be organized and protected within the space constraints of network closets, smart cabinets, or micro data centers, will help set the stage for effective monitoring and management of the distributed IT environment, a topic we will explore more deeply in our next post in this series. This not only supports more effective management of your current IT environment, it also gives you the ability to know where devices reside, how power is being used, and where space is available to simplify expansion planning.


To learn more about supporting growth at the healthcare edge, contact DVL to discover how our solutions are helping healthcare organizations achieve continuity for life.

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Topics: Data Center, efficient data center, hospitals, power distribution

The Connectivity and Reliability of Your Network's Central Nervous System

by Robert Leake on 9/23/20 1:49 PM

The second in a series of posts that explores the vital signs of a healthcare system’s digital and physical infrastructure, this blog takes a closer look at the connectivity and reliability of your network’s central nervous system—the digital infrastructure responsible for ensuring healthcare continuity.

The reliability of critical infrastructure is arguably the most important vital sign when it comes to ensuring continuity in healthcare. Functioning much like the human body’s central nervous system, your IT infrastructure must continuously communicate with, monitor, and protect power and thermal management systems in order to stop downtime before it happens, and ensure that patient data and medical equipment are always available when and where they are needed.

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As your healthcare system’s command and control center, your IT infrastructure is the link that connects medical staff with patient data. Its reliability is paramount as even a moment’s interruption could compromise so much.

Despite understanding the importance of improving network performance—a priority that is second only to ensuring data security and compliance, according to IDC’s 2019 Datacenter Operational Survey—downtime continues to be a big problem for data centers. Preventing downtime starts with creating a healthy and robust IT backbone, or central nervous system, that connects all components of your infrastructure.

Data Center

Healthcare organizations can succeed in doing this three ways:

1. Upgrade and optimize your legacy data center.

451 Research’s Voice of the Enterprise 2019 Annual Data Center Survey shows that aging infrastructure and keeping up with infrastructure demands are the top critical infrastructure challenges for healthcare organizations. If you are looking for ways to optimize your legacy data center, it may be time to upgrade key components or invest in technologies or services that help you monitor and manage the health of your infrastructure. As you plan for these investments, keep these tips in mind:

  • Consider investing in a recommissioning process to help you identify areas for efficiency improvement and upgrades that will bring your legacy data center up to meet today’s challenges.
  • Integrate intelligent products and solutions where possible, increase visibility, access, and control; along with detecting and quickly correcting problems before they cause downtime.
  • Look for future-proof, intelligent UPS systems that cover the backup power and power quality needs of your IT infrastructure. The best solutions will check five boxes:
    1. Intelligent (network connectivity and monitoring capabilities)
    2. Energy-efficient
    3. Reliable
    4. Modular
    5. Easy-to-maintain
  • Choose thermal solutions that deliver the right cooling capacity while avoiding overcooling. Containment is another strategy that’s gaining traction, as it separates hot and cold airstreams to eliminate reconditioning the same air, thus boosting efficiency by 30% or more.Scenario08final
  • Monitoring and data analysis. Monitoring systems such as Vertiv™ Environet™ allow you to keep tabs on power and cooling systems and environmental conditions

2. Build new flexible, scalable, and efficient data centers.

As delivery networks expand and emerging technologies increase loads, organizations need more space to manage IT. If it’s the right time to invest in a new data center, it’s the prime opportunity to make choices that will help future-proof your healthcare IT strategy, including:

  • Select intelligent power, thermal management, and monitoring solutions as well as racks, power distribution, and enclosures. Set the stage for better visibility, control, and planning capabilities that improve performance throughout the lifecycle of your data center.
  • Take advantage of prefabricated solutions that can save time and money while still allowing for customization and monitoring
  • Standardize equipment from one vendor to reduce costs through increased buying power. It also streamlines buying processes, workflow procedures, training requirements, and often simplifies maintenance
  • Invest in commissioning support. Commissioning can give you peace of mind that your new facility is designed, installed, tested, and maintained in ways that optimize performance throughout your data center’s lifecycle.

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3. Ensure proper protection and management of assets housed in a colocation environment or the cloud.

According to the results of 451 Research’s Voice of the Enterprise survey, about two out of five healthcare organizations currently use cloud service providers, while just over a quarter rent space from a colocation provider. Most (70%) own and operate their own data centers.  However, it’s entirely possible to protect and manage assets even when they are stored off-premise. Here are some strategies that can help:

  • Critical features to look for include intelligent, energy-efficient power and cooling technologies along with DCIM software to monitor the entire facility, fault-tolerant designs for backup power and cooling solutions, proper equipment maintenance practices, on-site technicians, and a solid understanding of HIPAA compliance.
  • Don’t make the mistake of relying on a ‘set it and forget it’ strategy. You can provide your cabinet equipped with features that improve security and efficiency, including biometric locks, smart PDUs that monitor power usage, and RFID technology that sends you alerts whenever an asset is accessed.
  • Hybrid cloud solutions can provide a way to tap into extra capacity for some assets. A recent article by Hit Infrastructure speaks to this growing trend, which allows companies to store different types of data in different locations based on how much bandwidth is required, the sensitivity of the information, and how often it needs to be accessed.

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Make sure your critical systems never miss a beat.

No matter where you choose to house your IT backbone, ensuring its health and viability is a must. With the right infrastructure solutions, you can create a powerful central nervous system that improves the connectivity and reliability of the digital infrastructure that powers your operations.

To learn more about protecting your IT backbone, contact DVL to discover how Vertiv solutions are helping more than 80% of U.S. healthcare systems achieve continuity for life. And be sure to stay tuned for our next post on growth at the healthcare edge.

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Topics: Data Center, efficient data center, healthcare, Resizing

Protect the IT Backbone: A Connected Network Nervous System

by Robert Leake on 9/16/20 1:12 PM

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For the next few weeks, we’ll be publishing a Joint Blog Series with Vertiv that's focused on strategies to strengthen the IT Edge Network. While focusing in the world of Healthcare, the messages will resonate with anyone working within a distributed IT environment:

In many ways, the physical and IT infrastructure that make up Healthcare’s Edge environment is a lot like the human body. It is comprised of a complex network of systems and applications that have to work independently and collaboratively to support the ongoing health of your operations, and enable it to deliver life-saving work in increasingly distributed locations.

When you gain insight into the vital signs of this infrastructure—factors such as connectivity, efficiency, reliability, and scalability—you’ll better understand the solutions and support you need to keep your entire operation functioning at peak performance.


Achieving Continuity for Life

In this new blog post series, we explore these vital signs and offer insight into how your critical infrastructure systems function in much the same way as the amazing human body. As a trusted provider to more than 80% of healthcare systems across the country, Vertiv knows what it takes to maintain healthy, robust physical and IT infrastructure that supports healthcare continuity and the ongoing delivery of high-quality care upon which every person depends. To help healthcare leaders gain greater confidence in the availability and reliability of building systems, healthcare data, and medical equipment, DVL brings you Vertiv solutions that help you:

Protect the IT Backbone: A Connected Network Nervous System
Much like the central nervous system serves as the human body’s command and control center, coordinating all other body systems by receiving and sending information and signals, the IT backbone plays this role in your healthcare system. Future-ready digital infrastructure protects the critical path upon which your patient data travels, the equipment clinicians use each day, and the data center systems that power your business. Whether that IT backbone exists in a data center, a colocation environment, the cloud, or a combination thereof, Vertiv architects reliable, interoperable, and intelligent infrastructure in a scalable, cost-effective way to enable your healthcare system to meet future demands while operating seamlessly and ensuring the highest levels of continuity today.
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Grow the Healthcare Edge: A Strong Skeletal System
A skeleton provides structure, support, and protection for a system. It serves as a framework that defines what a system will ultimately look like and helps dictate the parameters and functionality of the system. As healthcare networks become increasingly distributed, moving to remote locations beyond the main hospital campus and incorporating new technologies such as IoMT sensors, telemedicine centers, and wearables, they require a healthy framework that enables infrastructure solutions to flex and scale to accommodate growth at the edge while maintaining reliability, efficiency, and compliance of healthcare operations.

Manage the New Distributed IT Infrastructure: A Robust Circulatory System
The circulatory system circulates blood and transports oxygen and nutrients to all parts of the body while carrying away waste. As healthcare delivery becomes increasingly complex and distributed, with healthcare data growing exponentially and providers needing access to it in more and more remote locations, the need to securely send and receive data is paramount. Vertiv solutions protect your network connections through advanced visibility and access to distributed IT in locations ranging from network closets across the hospital to remote urgent care and telemedicine centers. At the same time, Vertiv solutions put your business leaders at the heart of the distributed network, providing a central engine for remote management, control, and analytics that fuels better decision making.

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Optimize Healthcare Operations: A Healthy Immune System

The immune system keeps people healthy. It’s what enables the body to protect and heal itself from diseases so that it can function at peak performance. Major healthcare systems must also be protected from a variety of ‘threats’ that can hinder continuity and jeopardize productivity, profitability, and compliance. These include factors such as aging physical infrastructure, rising energy costs, natural disasters, ever-changing regulatory requirements, a shortage of skilled workers, and lack of the right tools to manage increasingly distributed infrastructure. Vertiv helps healthcare systems develop their immunity and stay healthy with solutions that upgrade physical infrastructure and ensure clean, uninterrupted power. Through commissioning, electrical testing, and predictive and preventive maintenance of the power and cooling systems that protect your infrastructure, we help create efficient, safe environments that maximize the productivity of both people and equipment. We can help you actively plan for emergency response. And we can supplement your staff with our own team of experts. Our goal is to keep you compliant, drive down your costs, improve your workforce productivity, and extend the life of your critical building systems all while helping you maintain continuity of operations.
Dive deeper into your healthcare system’s vital signs.

Data Center
At DVL, we understand that even a moment’s interruption of your building systems, IT network, or medical equipment can compromise the delivery of care, undermine the patient experience, and even mean the difference between life or death. In future posts of this series, we’ll look more closely at the vital signs your physical and IT infrastructure must exhibit to safeguard against these interruptions along with the specific solutions Vertiv offers to keep your healthcare system healthy and ensure Continuity for Life.

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Topics: Data Center, efficient data center, IT, healthcare, mission-critical

Keeping a Critical Eye on Critical Infrastructure

by Robert Leake on 5/20/20 4:50 PM

Reluctantly, today’s workforce is getting more accustomed to working from home, and data center operators are not immune to this shift in operational flexibility. This along with the impacts of Critical Infrastructure becoming more tangible, has made the need for a Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) systems more apparent. This is not groundbreaking news for those of us in Infrastructure and Operations (I&O) who have always tended to on-prem conditions in a 24x7 environment. While this has historically had flavors of “managing from afar”, the extent of insight and control have been steadily increasing with the abilities enabled by today’s DCIM solutions.

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Critical Infrastructure has typically been a world of hardware; physical equipment that is your last line of defense in keeping your facility operational. When problems arose, a tech would address the alarm through a physical inspection - or you’d call a Hardware Hotshot (like DVL) offering expertise in that particular problem. But organizations today expect much more than simply staying operational from their I&O Teams. Leadership Teams expect:

  • Risk reduction
  • Improving capacity management/forecasting
  • Increasing agile decision making
  • Compliance to federal regulations and corporate responsibility requirements

These expectations are made a reality thanks to the continual advancements in the DCIM landscape. From native solutions developed by manufacturers like Vertiv, to the after-market solutions supplementing information to management teams across everything from generator, to ATS, to UPS, to CRAC, DCIM enables users a greater sense of control created by granular specifics across the entire critical infrastructure equation. Availability of data is not only providing better insight into the overall performance of the data center, but in some instances it’s actually able to predict the problem before it arises. This data is improving threat management, response times, and paving the way for positive financial impacts to the business.

Most professionals (especially those in the world of operations) have asked themselves, “How can I do more with less?” Well, the old adage of “you can’t manage what you can’t measure” puts into perspective what is needed in order to get more positive results with less… dollars, efforts, and assets. Efficiency of a data center revolves around reducing waste and unnecessary overprovisioning of power, cooling, space, and IT resources. DCIM solutions allow you to tap into the data behind how your infrastructure is performing today, and helps you understand how you can better manage impacts of those variables tomorrow, resulting in improved financials.

While DCIM offers many paths to greener pastures, unfortunately, there have been plenty of DCIM projects that had to be cancelled due to damaging mistakes in solution selection and deployment. This challenge is indicative of why only 42% of data center operators are using a solution today, and emphasizes why DCIM should be a collaborative process across the entire organization. When an organization takes a collective look at the available data, connecting one dot to the next, decision making teams are able to recognize more opportunities for improvement and create a shared perspective on where the organization stands on:

  • Required Analytics
  • Must-Have Features
  • Agreed upon objectives
  • Security Policies (i.e. platform resiliency, data integrity)
  • Reporting and Mobility

These are only a few points to consider when looking at DCIM as more than just a technology. Technologies are tools to enhance the management philosophy of how you run the business, and how to maximize not just the equipment – but the people providing tangible results in the forms of efficiency and financial improvements. We discussed a few more of these considerations on a recent webinar, Keeping a Critical Eye on Critical Infrastructure; and covered how DCIM has exponentially improved throughout the years with our friends at Critical Labs and Packet Power. The panel discussion ended up being a great overview of the DCIM landscape, and the value-added impacts that are behind today’s data centers.

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We invite you to listen to last week’s webinar to learn much more about DCIM and monitoring systems and how they can, in most cases, be easily integrated into your existing infrastructure.

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Topics: monitoring, beyond the product, packet power, critical labs

DVL's Employee Ownership Culture

by Robert Leake on 3/16/20 11:47 AM

“There is no more profitable investment than investing in yourself.” - Roy T. Bennett

Our customers often mention the dedication of DVL associates as one of the many reasons they continually turn to us for their critical infrastructure needs. From our Sales Engineers’ ability to find unique ways to cost-effectively solve project challenges, to each DVL Technician’s diligence to quality for maintenance and emergency calls; the most significant ingredient in the DVL Secret Sauce may be that we are a 100% employee owned company.

DVL became partially employee owned in 2006, and eventually 100% employee owned in 2012. We are an organization that is driven by employee owners—subsequently, our Mission and Vision aren’t just arbitrary concepts, but are brought to life by an entire group of people inspired to achieve a shared success.

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In 1974, Congress passed The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), which formally established a legal framework for ESOPs (employee owned companies). Since then, according to the National Center for Employee Ownership, the practice of employee ownership has proven to motivate employees, increase productivity, improve worker retention, and contribute to business longevity. If you directly benefit from the success of your company, you’ll be all-the-more motivated to succeed, and more importantly, encourage your co-owners to succeed as well. If their success is your success, teamwork is inherently engrained in everything you do!

To ensure we garner the very best from each and every one of our associates, from day one, we go all-in with investing in their development as a professional, and as a valued member of our team. So, just like many of the 6,400+ ESOPs in the country, we empower our people by educating, sharing, and involving. This includes the following measures:

  • Friend-tor Program: New associates are assigned a Friend-tor, another associate, by their manager, so they can have a colleague for one-on-one conversations if they have questions about the company or employee ownership.
  • ESOP 101: This course is held quarterly so new associates can take part in an in-depth lesson on ESOPs, and also how our business works. What effects the stock value? How does the performance of your department positively or negatively effect the bottom line? These questions and many more are addressed.
  • Finance 101: This course is held twice a year, and provides a foundation for associates to understand the performance figures that are shared with the company . This way, there are no surprises with the financials, and everyone understands what contributes to the stock price, which is determined once a year.
  • Lastly, we have the DVL ESOP Communications Committee, which bears the responsibility and mission of educating (and ultimately engaging) the employee owners of DVL Group. We strive to assure the committee is an accurate cross-organizational representation of the company so that all departments and offices have a voice.

From our own experiences as an ESOP, we can whole-heartedly agree with the NCEO’s findings. Afterall, as CEO Gary Hill likes to say, “we have careers here at DVL, not jobs.” Which is why going #BeyondTheProduct will always be our modus operandi.

 

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Topics: beyond the product, employee owned, ESOP Association, National Center for Employee Ownership

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