In 2012, Epic added Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) running on x86 servers to its list of supported platforms for its mission critical Electronic Health Record (EHR) database (previously, Epic only supported database software on UNIX servers).
Epic’s solution for Linux on x86 is virtualized, and subsequently provides the benefits that HIT organizations have come to expect from virtualized infrastructure. Intel and VMware have collaborated closely over the years to ensure that software runs in virtual machines with near-native performance. Barriers that may have prevented some mission critical workloads from being virtualized in the past are reduced or eliminated with each passing generation of Xeon and vSphere (for example, VMware recently announced that the host-level configuration maximum for RAM has doubled from 2TB to 4TB with the introduction of vSphere 5.5).
With this background, here are the top three benefits of an open, standards-based, server architecture for Epic EHR:
• Supportability: From 1996 to 2016 (estimated by IDC), the installed base of x86 servers will have increased from 56 percent of the overall server market to 98 percent. Accordingly, the number of administrators qualified to support and maintain these systems has also increased, making it easier to find qualified staff. Furthermore, the “end-user computing” side of the Epic EHR has already moved to x86. Standardizing on one server architecture can simplify the support model by reducing training and headcount requirements)
• Flexibility: When there is an ecosystem of vendors/OEMs developing compatible (x86) systems, the end-user (HIT organization) benefits. Competition provides choice and leads to improved quality and reduced cost through economies of scale.
Do any of you have experience yet deploying the Epic database tier on Linux/x86? Please feel free to share your observations and experiences below. You can follow me on Twitter @CGoughPDX.