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IBM polishes grid for healthcare providers

It's only May and they're celebrating GMAS?

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IBM is souping up its grid storage system aimed at healthcare service providers struggling to store a veritable data deluge of medical imagery.

The Grid Medical Archive Solution (GMAS) uses grid computing — that's lots of linked computers sharing processing power and resources — to store and manage patient data. GMAS comes as a pre-packaged with storage systems, software, System x 3650 servers and, of course, IBM Global Services members on call.

IBM unveiled the latest update to GMAS at the American Telemedicine Association show today. The fresh revision features hardware upgrades and the latest version of Grid Access Manager storage management software, which expands compatibility beyond IBM's DS4000 storage hardware to the newer (and cheaper) EXP3000 line and even EMC's storage offerings.

IBM has entered an OEM contract with Vancouver-based Bycast for the Grid Access Manager software, putting the entire GMAS package under the support umbrella of IBM — giving customers just one neck to choke should something go wrong.

Business-line exec for IBM Craig Butler said grid storage provides a solution for hospitals, clinics and research institutions that not only need to store massive amounts of business-critical fixed-content data for long periods of time but also need to be able to retrieve that data 24/7 from multiple sites.

Hospitals often need to save image data from multitudes of MRIs, excesses of x-rays and a plethora of PET scans for decades or even in perpetuity. Then there's the whole Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act requirements for medical data to worry about. All this, of course, presents a storage management problem for health care organizations.

GMAS helps out by creating a virtual, shared storage pool across locations and storage hardware brands. Users can spread archived data between multiple sites — a useful feature for your friendly neighborhood consolidated hospital.

None of this comes cheap, however. The bare-bones package starts at around $250,000 for 12Tb of storage and four System x servers. From there, the price goes up by the terabyte.

Turn your head and cough.

GMAS shares the market with HP's Medical Archive Solution and EMC's Centera. ®

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