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Canadian blood services

Canadian Blood Services relies on OnX Enterprise Solutions and EMC to secure mission-critical information.

Challenges

Canadian Blood Services is a not-for-profit, charitable organization that manages the blood and blood products supply for Canadians. CBS donors and volunteers collect approximately 850,000 units of blood each year and administer blood products to thousands of patients across the country. Canadian Blood Services also manages the OneMatch Stem and Cell Marrow Network, whose mission is to secure donors for Canadian bone marrow transplant patients and patients abroad. As well, the organization screens every donor and tests each unit of blood collected for a variety of transmissible diseases.

“Having our data backed up and available at all times is critical to our operations,” says Ivo Mokros, Director of IT Operations and Chief Architect at Canadian Blood Services. “We can’t function if we don’t have access to the records relating to our supply. The data we store also needs to be very secure. We have information on approximately three million Canadian donors, including names, addresses, medical histories as they pertain to blood donations and travel histories – all based on the questions we ask when people donate blood.”

Solution

Approximately six years ago, Canadian Blood Services began updating its data centre strategy. That strategy included a data centre consolidation, secure access to sensitive information for key employees and partners and an improved content management solution.

After looking at a variety of partners and products, Canadian Blood Services selected OnX Enterprise Solutions  and EMC  to drive its new data centre strategy forward.

“OnX is a great partner because they have a wide range of products and their specializations matched nicely with the products we had identified for our data centre, which included products from EMC,” Mokros says. “OnX has always been very competitive on pricing and they offer value-added services. For example, when we recently placed a large server order, there were some delays on our end and we had no place to store the new servers, so OnX staged them for us.”

Canadian Blood Services was attracted to EMC by the quality of its products and the company’s strategic vision.

“The acquisitions they have made over the years have really added depth to their portfolio,” Mokros says. “The additions of companies such as VMware and Documentum did a nice job of complementing what EMC already had in place.”

For its storage, Canadian Blood Services relies on two large EMC CLARiiON CX-480 networked storage systems housed in two separate data centres. Before installing the CLARiiONs, the organization had six separate SANs. The CLARiiON’s scalability allowed Canadian Blood Services to consolidate all six SANs onto one platform which is replicated across to the second CLARiiON, giving the organization excellent failover capability and ensuring its data remains accessible at all times.

Having access to its data is important for the organization so it can make timely donor matches and run its day-to-day business. “Everything we have in terms of both patient data and our business information is on the CLARiiON platform,” Mokros says. “We worked closely with OnX and EMC to make sure we had redundant fibre interconnects and links so there are no single points of failure.”

Securing sensitive patient data is also important to Canadian Blood Services. Not only do the organization’s own employees need secure access to its databases, but so do transplant coordinators from different hospitals who must match organs to patients. Canadian Blood Services turned to OnX, utilizing RSA, The Security Division of EMC, to ensure secure remote access.

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