Interview with Curt Kwak, CIO of Proliance Surgeons
Before joining Cohesity, I’d been in the health and life sciences industry for more than three decades. I have a deep understanding of the sector’s challenges with data management. That’s why I was particularly struck by the transformation of Proliance Surgeons, a healthcare provider based in Seattle, from fragmented, on-premises, legacy data management products to a centralized, modern, cloud-ready solution. It’s a great story.
Proliance Surgeons is a fast-growing surgical practice that specializes in outpatient procedures. It runs 35 exceptional affiliate surgical care centers dedicated to performing surgeries that don’t require hospitalizations. It has more than 100 physical locations supporting more than 2,400 employees, including 240 board-certified physicians.
As Curt Kwak, CIO of Proliance, explained when I interviewed him recently, his IT department had to be extraordinarily flexible to meet the needs of the affiliates, which are mostly located in western Washington state. Each affiliate is owned by the surgeons who operate them.
“They come and join us for the brand name, but they maintain their local autonomy because they’ve been in practice for so long,” Kwak told me. Because of that, they get a high level of technical autonomy as well. “We have to focus on interoperability versus mandating a single platform,” he says. “So we have this very complex network of different technologies that we have to manage on a daily basis.”
Proliance was operating HPE ProLiant Gen 10 servers with HPE Nimble Storage for primary storage while relying on disparate, older point products for backups and file storage — including Synology and Dell EqualLogic — that required Kwak to dedicate a full-time engineer to manually identify failures, replace parts, and ensure clusters were fixed.
But as his legacy backup and file storage products approached end-of-life, Kwak saw an opportunity for improvement. He began looking for a modern, hybrid-cloud data management solution that was not only more cost efficient and could do more with data such as intelligent analytics and monitoring, but also complemented his existing HPE investments. Additionally, he sought a solution that would allow Proliance to optimize picture archiving and communication system (PACS) workloads, so he could move some workloads off the more costly primary storage.
Proliance chose the joint Cohesity-HPE data management solution as it fulfilled all of these requirements on a single platform that simplified operations. Cohesity data management software, HPE Nimble Storage, and HPE Proliant Gen 10 servers won out over competitors, including Rubrik, Dell EMC, and Synology, for integrated data management.
Today, Proliance uses the Cohesity-HPE solution to achieve:
I asked Kwak, why the Cohesity-HPE solution? His answer was instructive. The Cohesity-HPE solution was the only way to build one, consolidated platform that could support multiple data management use cases — including backups, archives, file shares, object stores, and data used in analytics and dev/test, he told me.
Proliance runs Cohesity on HPE servers in its data center to back up and retain approximately 800 terabytes of data. It also leverages Cohesity SmartFiles for file and object services. As a heavy user of Microsoft SQL, Proliance used to have to send images from its PACS to HPE Nimble Storage during the many spinning-disk failures of its previous solution. Now, Kwak’s staff simply — and reliably — diverts PACS images such as x-rays, MRIs, and CT scans to Cohesity for more cost-efficient data management.
“Compared to only using primary storage the joint Cohesity-HPE solution is two-to-one savings from a cost perspective,” says Kwak.
Kwak also said that he specifically chose Cohesity with HPE because of the cloud readiness of the platform. “There’s only so much we can do to the physical limitations of our data center and our team size,” he says.
“A partnership like this allows us to go beyond what we currently could. We don’t have to invest as much capital, and instead have predictable, monthly recurring costs,” he continues.
Performance was also an issue, due to user requirements — the surgeon-owners of the Proliance affiliate clinics. Previously, images had been kept in primary storage because they needed to be retrieved rapidly.
“Our orthopedic surgeons have no tolerance for any delays or hiccups. They had liked the performance of primary storage because it was so fast,” says Kwak. He was a little concerned that they’d notice the speed difference between when images were moved to Cohesity. They didn’t.
He also likes that he has the option to use Cohesity as a secondary NAS, which eliminates having to invest in additional operational capacity. “We got a huge ROI from just that aspect alone,” he says.
Ultimately, however, it’s not the cost savings that matter. It’s the fact that Kwak’s team can now support the surgeons more capably.
“When something goes wrong in healthcare, people’s lives are at stake. Because of that we take special care in what we do and are always on alert,” says Kwak. “Cohesity and HPE have our backs on this.”
The value Proliance is getting from Cohesity-HPE solutions, though extraordinary, is similar to what I’m hearing from our other joint customers. If you want to hear more from Curt, check out our full interview here or read the detailed case study.