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Lessons Learned From the Front Line of Data Protection and Recovery

Streamlining IT on the High Seas

Doctors perform 313 million surgeries every year all over the world, but only 6% of them serve the billion-plus people living in the developing world. That’s where Mercy Ships and the Africa Mercy, a floating hospital aboard a former rail ferry, come into play.

Based in Sub-Saharan Africa and staffed entirely by a crew of 400-plus volunteers, the nonprofit relies on streamlined and simplified IT, so they can focus on serving those in need of life-saving surgeries and care. Like a federal agency, the Mercy Ships program is mission-driven, with a focus on using IT to improve the quality of care that it provides. Even its back-office systems affect what happens on the frontlines.

To serve more people, Mercy Ships decided to add a second ship to its fleet. They also needed to improve the efficiency of its onshore operations in Golden Valley, Texas, because the site’s storage and servers couldn’t keep up with applications’ demand for resources.

“At least once a day, we had issues with applications slowing down and freezing,” said Jonathan Dyson, Director of Enterprise Infrastructure at Mercy Ships. “And support was very difficult because, over the years, we’ve added many technologies from different vendors.”

Even though the new vessel wouldn’t launch for four years, builders needed the ship’s data center design right away to meet their requirements. For consistency, Mercy Ships would use a similar model in its onshore data center. In addition to delivering excellent longevity, the new IT platform needed to be flexible enough to support hospital systems including medical records, diverse applications for managing safety and business functions such as logistics, and an onboard K-12 school for the staff’s children.

Working with third-party Technologent, Mercy Ships evaluated offerings from several vendors — and chose a seamless, software-defined solution from Dell EMC.

“We wanted to consolidate vendors and have just a few partners who could help advance the vision of Mercy Ships,” Dyson said. “We knew that Dell EMC would provide the solution and support that would meet our needs well into the future. It’s not a flash-in-the-pan newcomer.”

With the new platform, Mercy Ships boosted the efficiency of onshore operations and there’s less risk of outages. “We have significantly improved our services now that we’re using all-flash Dell EMC VxRail Appliances,” he said. “Applications are fast and reliable, and data is there when people need it.”

This article is an excerpt from GovLoop’s recent report, “Protecting Your Cloud From Ransomware and More: Breaking Down What You Need to Know.” Download the full report here.

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