Medavie Blue Cross proactively ensures availability of HPE 3PAR and Brocade Fabric

 

Medavie Blue Cross is a health solutions organization headquartered in New Brunswick, Canada. For 70 years the company has been a not-for-profit health services partner for individuals, employers, and governments across Canada. Medavie Blue Cross provides health, travel, life, and income replacement products and administers various provincial and federal government sponsored health programs.

Medavie Blue Cross uses IntelliMagic Vision to help maintain a reliable infrastructure in their two data centers comprising over 1 PB of HPE 3PAR Storage and Brocade Fibre Channel SAN switches. “The beauty of the product is that it provides useful reports for both management and technical teams out of the box,” says Storage and Computing Team Lead Emile Brideau.

IntelliMagic Vision sets itself apart by providing not just raw metrics, but an intelligent interpretation of the measurement data. Fueled by deep platform knowledge, IntelliMagic Vision automatically analyzes configuration, workload and performance measurements in relation to the hardware’s capabilities. The results are displayed in dashboards that flag issues and rate the health of all storage system and fabric components. This enables customers like Medavie Blue Cross to improve overall performance, protect availability and optimize resource usage.

Medavie Blue Cross has found IntelliMagic Vision to be very helpful in identifying risks. Marc LeBlanc, Storage Administrator, explains: “We installed IntelliMagic Vision and looked at the fabric dashboard. It immediately showed an issue that had been hidden until then. It was important to me to understand the issue and resolve it as quickly as possible, and the IntelliMagic Vision user interface greatly helped with that.” LeBlanc was able to determine the root cause easily: “The dashboard indicated buffer credit issues on a couple of host ports, and when I drilled down, it led me to the server that contained these ports. IntelliMagic Vision showed that they were configured at 2 Gbps. These ports were intentionally set to run at 2 Gbps because of concerns that this server would overwhelm the SAN. However, it turns out setting lower speeds on the host ports than on the rest of the fabric leads to buffer credit issues. When we increased the speed, the issue was completely resolved.”

The most important thing about this story, according to LeBlanc, is the early warning that IntelliMagic Vison provided: “While nobody had complained yet about any performance problems, it was only a matter of time before this issue would start impacting other hosts sharing the same switch. We were thankful to be able to resolve this before the end users noticed and management was quite happy as well!”

Medavie Blue Cross has found IntelliMagic Vision to be very helpful in understanding how to best use their storage tiers as well. LeBlanc explains: “While we are quite happy with the performance of our HPE 3PAR systems we continually look for ways to understand and improve the resource allocations. We want to make sure we give the users the best experience possible given a limited amount of SSD drives. For this reason, it is important to understand how the auto-tiering is working. HPE 3PAR’s auto-tier solution is called Adaptive Optimization. With IntelliMagic Vision, we were able to see how the Adaptive Optimization was distributing workloads to our Common Provisioning Groups (CPGs).” Surprisingly, we noticed that our 450 GB 10 K RPM drives were busier on average than the SSD drives and the 900 GB 10 K RPM drives. This has led us to make some changes in the way we configure the Adaptive Optimization policies leading to abetter-optimizedd storage environment.”

LeBlanc continues: “Another example of how IntelliMagic Vision warned us of hidden issues was when it identified a pair of defective SFP transceivers - a device that connects a Fibre optic cable to a switch. Again, these were not causing any visible problems, in this case because the ports were unused. But if we would have started using the ports, there would have been an immediate problem. We find it important to keep the SAN fabric clean of errors and defects in order to avoid future impacts, and that is exactly what IntelliMagic Vision helps achieve.”

LeBlanc is very happy with IntelliMagic Vision and adds: “IntelliMagic has been crucial to avoiding performance and configuration issues in our SAN infrastructure.”

About Medavie Blue Cross

Medavie Blue Cross is part of Medavie, a health services company. Together with Medavie EMS, the largest provider of Emergency Medical Services in Canada, we are dedicated to improving the health of all Canadians through integrating benefits management, health management and health care delivery. medavie.bluecross.ca

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