High availability is a term used in the software industry to indicate that an application is available and running as expected a high percentage of the time. Availability is measured in percentage of up time. For example, if a system has a 24-hour expected processing time and is down 17.5 hours per year, it has a 99.8% availability.
In a modern, connected healthcare environment, high availability is absolutely critical, yet there are still occasions – both planned and unexpected – that cause downtime.
Unexpected issues are often caused by:
- Network problems, such as switch or router failures
- Operating system patches, upgrades, or other problems such as viruses
- Natural disasters
- Hardware failures, such as network cards and hard drives
- Application failures, such as the inability to process any messages
Outages, whether planned or unexpected, usually have the same result – patient data stops moving and is unavailable for caregivers. Corepoint Integration Engine has two features that help customers keep data flowing – Assured Availability and Disaster Recovery.
Assured Availability (A2)
Healthcare organizations need more than high availability, they need assured availability because they must guarantee that not even one clinical message is missed or lost. Whether on-premise or in the cloud, Corepoint customers are guaranteed data integrity with our intuitive high availability features.
Corepoint Integration Engine’s high availability feature is called Assured Availability, or A2. A2 is high availability that promises no data is lost.
A2 offers the native approach to high availability because it:
- Allows for the easiest implementation of hot and synchronous backup.
- Is cost-effective.
- Does not require additional IT skills or personnel.
- Ensures that each message is processed only once and in the correct order – every time, in real time.
Because A2 is built natively into the engine there is intimate knowledge of the health of the primary and backup server, both in active and passive states. This allows for synchronous replication of all the messages and configuration information, providing for graceful failover and failback. The engine handles the synchronization of all configuration files and connection profiles, making configuration of A2 less time consuming.
Disaster Recovery (DR)
Corepoint Disaster Recovery, or DR, provides peace of mind for providers in the event of a natural disaster. DR works in conjunction with A2 to provide complete coverage for outages. While A2 is targeted at isolated server problems such as operating system failures, a memory problem, or a disk drive at capacity, the DR solution covers events that impact the entire data center.
The DR standby site always has the latest updates to the configuration by allowing scheduled replications of the repository. Whenever a disaster occurs, users simply restore the latest saved repository and start the engine, allowing the DR site to exchange data as soon as the other applications are ready.
A2 in action
A2 was able to help a Corepoint Health customer stay up and running during a data center switch that required the main servers for their virtual environment to be offline for a brief period of time.
The customer uses a cloud-based ambulatory Electronic Health Record (EHR), as defined in Defining Key Health Information Technology Terms (The National Alliance for Health Information Technology, April 28, 2008): An electronic record of health-related information on an individual that conform... system. Their need for more server space became evident as the rollout of their EHR expanded across the entire health system. Data began to accumulate at a pace that required more storage space for future expansion. It was an issue that needed to be addressed quickly.
In this case, the challenge with migrating from one virtual server to another had added complication: geography. Rather than being located mere feet away, the hardware for the new virtual server had to be relocated to a data center across the city. What needed to happen was:
- Current server needed to be shut down.
- Hard drives needed to be removed from the current location.
- Team member must physically drive the hard drives to the new location.
- Hard drives must be properly inserted into new server.
- New server must be powered up and work properly.
The process seems simple enough but what would happen to hospital operations during the one hour required to complete the above steps? Enter A2.
As soon as the current server was turned off, the A2 backup server automatically took over operations of patient data flow. The Corepoint engine was able to ensure message persistence during the switch to the backup server and all connections remained interoperable with the guarantee of no lost messages.
Once the new virtual server was thoroughly tested, a failback was initiated and the new primary server began to process data as before the switch – but with the added peace of mind that the new servers are able to support future organizational growth.