The Medizinischer Dienst der Krankenversicherung in Hessen (MDK Hessen) provides medical assessment services for statutory health insurance organisations and quality assurance audits for medical facilities in the German state of Hessen. Its 560 employees include doctors, qualified nurses, psychologists and other healthcare-related staff.
For many years, MDK Hessen had used NetWare to provide file and print services for its staff, and the solution formed a vital component of many of its core business processes. Office documents and other critical files were held securely in the NetWare system.
"We had built up a lot of experience with NetWare, and we trusted it as a fast, reliable and secure file system for our documents," said Stephan Thamm, Network Manager at MDK Hessen. "However, since it was no longer being developed, it lacked the ability to take full advantage of modern server hardware. It was time to move to a more modern solution—but we didn't want to make dramatic changes to a system that had been working well for many years."
The company wanted to find a current solution that could replicate all the useful features of NetWare, while also bringing its IT landscape up to date and making it easier to support.
Working with Carpe diem, a technology consultancy that specialises in IT infrastructure, identity management and security solutions, MDK Hessen began planning its move to a new solution. The project team conducted a workshop to gather detailed requirements for the project, with the aim of ensuring that the solution would deliver all the functionalities required, without requiring any radical changes to the existing system landscape, and without causing undue disruption to business users.
"We set very high standards for our IT landscape, so everything had to be 100 percent right before we were prepared to risk moving to a new solution," said Thamm. "Our existing landscape was extremely reliable and easy to manage, and we were not prepared to compromise on the quality of the new solution: it had to be either as good or better in every respect."
The combined project team from MDK Hessen and Carpe diem drew up a detailed project plan for a migration from NetWare to Novell Open Enterprise Server – a solution that was capable of replicating all of the most valuable features of the existing landscape, while introducing a more modern and versatile operating system at its core: SUSE® Linux Enterprise Server.
The implementation plan was approved, and the team went ahead with the project, deploying Novell Open Enterprise Server on a total of 11 Fujitsu servers – three BX620-S5 bladeservers at the company's central data centre, and one BX400 bladesystem at each of its eight branch offices. There are also three virtual servers running Open Enterprise Server. Data storage is provided by Fujitsu SX80 SAN disk systems. The central servers are configured as a cluster, which ensures high availability for file and print services, even in the event of a single server failing. The whole project was delivered on time and within budget.
"Our partnership with Carpe diem was a very positive experience," said Thamm. "Their expertise was critical in giving us the confidence to move to a new solution, and the results are very encouraging: we now have a solution that provides all the functionality of our old platform, as well as giving us more flexibility in terms of meeting future requirements."
With Novell Open Enterprise Server, MDK Hessen now has a solution that is capable of taking full advantage of its powerful Fujitsu blade server platform. The solution can leverage the multi-core Intel Xeon processors to provide even greater performance, and also benefits from its ability to operate in 64-bit mode, which allows it to address more than 4 GB of memory.
"There is no point investing in high-performance hardware unless you have software that can use it to its full potential," said Thamm. "With Novell Open Enterprise Server, we can provide our 560 users with the best possible performance, while maintaining the complete reliability and ease-of-use that we used to get from our old solution."
All the major tools and features that MDK Hessen previously used in NetWare have close equivalents in Novell Open Enterprise Server – enabling the in-house team to manage the new solution with a minimum of retraining, and ensuring that day-to-day IT maintenance tasks can be completed just as easily as before.
"For organisations like MDK Hessen Novell Open Enterprise Server is an excellent option," said Harald Gemmer, CEO at Carpe diem. "It is a low-impact solution that gives the IT team a familiar way to manage their file and print environment, while also bringing the performance, scalability and versatility of a modern Linux operating system."