By Kelly Baig

This week, BridgeHead announced our introduction of a new solution for backup and recovery protection of InterSystems Caché® databases. This solution is important for hospitals because, to our knowledge, this is the first time any backup vendor has offered an integrated standard product solution for Caché. Analysts whom we’ve briefed, including Joseph Martins at The Data Mobility Group, have confirmed that our solution is the only standard product for Cache available, as well.

Then I thought about it, and I realized that perhaps we had not been clear enough in our announcement about why an integrated standard product solution, which could also be described as an engineered solution, is important for hospitals.

An integrated solution for Caché, is one which uses the API provided by InterSystems to orchestrate a single point in time (PiT) of backup. This single PiT ensures that protected data is application-consistent, and usable upon recovery to support the hospital. A standard product is one which is coded to include these API commands, in the sequence prescribed, and which works when deployed without a lot of added effort.

In contrast, let’s consider what you must do to obtain backup and recovery of Caché databases, without an engineered solution. Working with a non-engineered approach, a hospital would need to create custom scripts. Custom scripts, of course, must be tested to ensure that they work properly – which adds time to deployment; if scripting isn’t something your staff do all the time will the scripts be as robust and will you be able to test error scenarios when you are working with your live data? As application versions change, with updates over time, the scripts must be maintained to ensure continued accurate backup and recovery. This adds to the expense and time required for application upgrades, and may hold up such upgrades depending on whether the administrators who created the scripts originally are still available. As people within an organization change and move on to other organization, knowledge about the scripts can be lost. This creates added challenges in their maintenance and use. Also, vendor support services are not typically available to support customer written scripts.

Whenever possible, it just makes good sense for hospitals to obtain engineered solutions for data management. An engineered solution avoids a lot of unnecessary time and effort in deployment and maintenance of the environment over time. Most importantly, however, an engineered solution reduces the risk to the data under management, by providing a fully tested and supported method of capturing, storing and recovering data.

Here is a brief list of the key benefits provided by our engineered backup and recovery solution for Caché databases:

  • BridgeHead has on staff, engineers with extensive credentials and experience, who have designed and implemented an integration between the Caché methods for Thaw/Freeze and the various storage array vendors’ methods for cloning and snapshotting.
  • Our engineers design in just what you would expect in a professional software product. Just as importantly, our engineers have a disciplined development process that includes design, review, development, and Quality Assurance (QA) to name a few of the steps. Again what you would expect in any professionally engineered software product.
  • Further, our engineers have constant interaction and education (reading and training about new versions, new methodologies) for each of the components we integrate. Thus, they are building and evolving skill set that keep up with new features and advancements whether in Caché methods, and storage array clone/snapshots.
  • Often our team evolves best practices along with hospital application vendors, such as when we participate throughout the deployment process of a new EMR to keep it protected and to roll seamlessly into production. You can read about how we have done this, in our blog entry on best practices for EMR deployment, for an example of how this can benefit your hospital.
  • Also, and this is significant, we provide a professional support experience for Caché protection including the integration. Our support is what you expect: extended hours, fast response, reporting, and so forth. But part of what makes us better is that we understand what Caché is, we understand the differences between the creation and presentation of for example an EMC VMAX Clone compared to a NetApp Snapshot, Volume Clone and LUN map, and we understand the hospital applications environment which depends on the data. All of this allows us to assist hospitals across the integration components and allows you to choose the best storage for your needs now, and again in your next storage refresh without changing the solution or writing new scripts.

The data stored in Caché databases is among the most critical type of data under management in a hospital. Caché databases are central to a wide variety of Electronic Medical Record (EMR) applications, including those from Epic Systems, Allscripts, McKesson, Siemens, TrackCare, and VA VistA. Obtaining an engineered solution for backup and recovery of Caché databases can benefit a hospital by reducing the risk to the data, ensuring professional support through the protection process, and ensuring availability of critical applications.