Cerner Is Using Intel® Optane™ Technology to Shape the Healthcare of Tomorrow

When I talk with healthcare organizations, I get a sense of urgency: a surgeon checks his computer screen one last time before embarking on a tricky operation. In the emergency room, a nurse accesses a patient’s medical history, checking for drug allergies. Four floors up, an obstetrician keeps a close eye on fetal heart monitor data during a difficult birth. These scenarios have something in common: each of these healthcare providers relies heavily on technology to support decision making and provide high-quality and timely care.

Brian Stuckey, vice president of infrastructure engineering at Cerner Corporation, told me flatly, “These aren’t just mission-critical workloads. They are life-critical workloads.”

At the same time, healthcare IT managers like Stuckey also tell me that they seek technology solutions that not only deliver the performance healthcare providers need, but that also are cost-effective and efficient. Especially in the “edge” clinical setting (such as in doctors’ offices and hospitals), VMware Hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) solutions like VMware vSAN can replace costly storage-attached networks (SANs), can scale easily as business needs evolve enabling these businesses to keep up with the ever-increasing amount of healthcare data pouring in from devices, clinicians’ notes, electronic medical records (EMRs) and a myriad of other sources.

Better Together: HCI and Intel® Optane™ Technology

While HCI can reduce infrastructure TCO, it’s only as good as the hardware underlying the software. For example, if the storage hardware is inherently slow (such as hard disk drives or slower NAND SSDs), HCI isn’t going to be able to solve the healthcare provider needs for a cost effective and high performant solution. Collaboration between Intel and VMware has resulted in optimizing vSAN so that it takes advantage of the latest hardware innovations from Intel. In particular, Intel® Optane™ DC Solid State Drives (SSDs) can improve vSAN performance by speeding up caching operations—the Intel® Optane™ SSD DC P4800X is designed for high throughput and low latency—just what healthcare’s I/O-intensive applications need to enable doctors and patients access to records and life-critical information at a much faster rate

Putting vSAN and Intel® Optane™ Technology to Work at Cerner

The business value of combining vSAN and Intel® Optane™ DC SSDs was highly attractive to Stuckey and his co-workers at Cerner, especially for edge systems deployed on-site at a hospital or clinic. Cerner has deployed HPE ProLiant servers with high-performance Intel® Xeon® Processors and Intel® Optane™ DC SSDs for vSAN as the HCI platform. These edge systems are used for local, low latency applications, such as caching images for diagnostic purposes or interface engines that connect with on-site devices. vSAN with Intel® Optane™ SSDs dramatically simplifies deployment—making Stuckey’s job easier—while delivering exceptional efficiency and performance.

When I asked Stuckey how these systems were working, he said, “We’re getting incredibly good performance results—and we’re hitting a price point that is beneficial from a TCO perspective.” He also added that “Intel® Optane™ DC SSDs’ performance exceeds Cerner’s previous benchmarks of other SSD products.”


The vSAN solution powered by Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors with Intel® Optane™ technology can help healthcare organizations optimize their storage solutions in order to gain fast access to large datasets. Great to see the real-world impact of Intel® Optane™ technologies helping to manage healthcare’s life-critical workloads and enabling Cerner to improve their clients’ experience.


About Cerner

Cerner solutions are contracted at more than 27,500 facilities in over 35 countries. For 40 years, Cerner has worked at the intersection of healthcare and information technology to connect people and systems around the world. The company uses the latest technology to create solutions that let communities and people engage in their own health. Whether they are supporting the clinical, financial or operational areas of a hospital or health system, Cerner’s tools are designed to work for today and think for tomorrow.

Cerner supports its clients by surfacing data that enables them to make informed decisions for better management of operations, while arming clinicians with the information they need to provide smarter care.

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