HeathAlliance picks Oracle to minimise cost

DHB shared services body is first in NZ to deploy Exadata X2-2

The licence cost was part of the motivation for district health board consortium healthAlliance’s purchase of two Oracle Exadata database machines, says applications planning manager Raymond Lodge-Osborn. The Exadata X2-2 models are the first to be utilised locally.

Existing Oracle database and application licences in use by healthAlliance, its constituent boards, and those in the process of joining were charged according to the number of processor cores running instances of the software. The boards had quad-core machines and growth in workload would have made six and eight-core machines necessary, Lodge-Osborn says.

The Exadata machines allow healthAlliance to keep the number of cores and hence the number of licences stable, but to get more processing “grunt” from the configuration as a whole, he says.

One Exadata will be installed at Middlemore Hospital, centre of the Counties-Manukau DHB and the other on Auckland’s North Shore, providing disaster recovery – another important reason for the refresh, Lodge-Osborn says. Each configuration will have two six-core servers, for a total of 24 cores. Processing capacity now distributed across several sites will thus be centralised.

The need for an increase in capacity is due both to natural growth and the expansion of the consortium, Lodge-Osborn says.

Originally involving Counties-Manukau and Waitemata DHBs, healthAlliance is expanding to include service to the Auckland and Northland boards. It also supports the Taranaki DHB.

The Exadata machines will run Oracle’s 11g database system; databases for regional clinical results and a patient management system are already at this level, making for a relatively easy transfer, but others are running version 9i and will need to be upgraded.

The absence of another Exadata installation in New Zealand “did cause debate”, Lodge-Osborn says, but healthAlliance spent some time on conference calls with an Australian user in the finance sector and a week in Sydney testing software directly.

Successful running with huge increases in throughput – 27-fold in one case – reassured the organisation that it was taking a safe step.

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