Cheyenne Radiology Pictures the Future with VMware vSAN

Cheyenne Radiology is a medical imaging center that serves patients all over the western U.S., including sites in Colorado, Nebraska and Wyoming. One of the center’s primary services is a Web-based picture archiving and communications system (PACS) that stores scans for remote hospitals, clinics and medical practices. They have eight radiologists on staff who read these scans for medical practices and hospitals.

As modern imaging techniques have improved, the amount of data that Cheyenne Radiology has to save has increased. For example, a mammogram done with 3D tomography uses about 1 GB of data, compared to older, less detailed images that measured around 200 MB. To comply with medical-records laws, images must be stored for up to 25 years or even longer. “Our current storage load is around 90 terabytes,” said Matt Fields, Information Technology Supervisor, “and image storage alone is 63 terabytes. So we have huge image consumption, but we also need images to load fast so our radiologists can use their time effectively. These 3D tomography studies have to load in five seconds or less.”

The center had used a traditional SAN, but according to Fields, “it quickly became a huge cost burden because we had to have so many units. And it did not do deduplication or compression. We ended up spending hundreds of thousands of dollars just to get the capacity – and then we had to duplicate that for offsite storage.



More Capacity in a Smaller Space for Less Money

When it was time for a major hardware refresh, Fields and his team had additional important criteria. They had a small capital budget and not a lot of extra space for equipment. “For each storage unit you need to have power and cooling,” said Fields. “You need to have IT support. That’s above and beyond the storage itself.”

Cheyenne Radiology chose VMware vSAN and Dell PowerEdge 730xd rack servers for a modern, hyperconverged infrastructure solution. They implemented a four-node vSAN cluster that supports all the practice’s storage, plus another four-node cluster for VMware Horizon virtual desktops. Because of deduplication and compression, the center was able to reduce its overall storage footprint by 20 terabytes, while staying well within their existing physical footprint for equipment. These storage savings mean that the practice will be able to keep expanding their services over the next five to seven years without buying additional hardware.

“VMware vSAN provided us massive cost savings over a traditional SAN. Our power use is about a quarter of what it was. For us, vSAN was a huge win-win.”

– Mark Fields, Information Technology Supervisor

Fields listed a number of vSAN benefits for Cheyenne Radiology: “All flash means the power footprint is minimal, about a quarter of what it was before. The vSAN solution was about half the cost of replacing our equipment with another traditional SAN, plus savings on power and batteries. In our data center, we have two racks instead of five. We’ve been a longtime VMware customer, and having only one support vendor reduced a lot of complexity. For us, vSAN was a massive savings and a huge win-win.”


Benefits for Medical Staff

Fields also noted that clinicians and support staff at the practice have benefited from the upgrade. The vSAN solution improves performance for the center’s Horizon virtual desktops. In the office, staff access a lot of data through the data center – including Microsoft Office files and audio files for medical transcriptionists – with no loss of quality or speed.

Radiologists can also read scans from home. According to Fields, “When radiologists pull up an image, they have to ensure that every bit of detail and greyscale is there. Typically they would have to stream the images to their houses which can occupy a large amount of bandwidth, but using Horizon they’re able to reduce that bandwidth to minimal amounts because everything’s occurring within the data center. Our radiologists have been very, very pleased with the speed they’ve been getting.”


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