Supreme Confidence in HCI Brings Supreme Relief to Buchanan County Health Center


After any big IT project, there’s a moment where you lift your head, look around, and exhale. You finally know that everything is up-to-date, there are no complaints, and all your new solutions are running without a hitch. At that moment, after months of trepidation, you can finally relax.

It’s a great moment, but it’s not always easy to get there. And my most satisfying exhalation moment began in dire circumstances. 

I’ve been working at Buchanan County Health Center since March 2021. But before that, I was part of the MSP that provided remote support to the hospital. So I’ve been dealing with the organization for almost five years now, and it’s been a pleasure to watch the organization evolve. 

As the IT and Compliance Manager, I am responsible for our company's security, data compliance, and access and transmission permissions for medical records. I work alongside a help desk technician to support around 370 employees and two satellite clinics. The organization is small enough that people always stop me in the hallway to say hello, and we continue to get remote support from our MSP. 

It doesn’t sound too complicated, and it’s not—when the proper infrastructure is in place.

Our Cluster Had Reached a Breaking Point 

Buchanan County Health Center is a VMware shop, and we had three separate clusters: one compute cluster for VMs like print servers, file servers, and domain controllers; one cluster for our VDI deployment of VMware Horizon; and one cluster that held a completely neglected VMware environment—and that’s being generous.

The server and hardware were so old that there was no support for it at all. It was running MEDITECH EMR software that our hospital had migrated away from long ago. It held old patient records, but we still used it to support our business office, run our finances, and manage the inventory for our materials management department. It was a critical component of our organization, but it was fragile. I was afraid to sneeze or cough too loudly in the old server room for fear it would take the entire cluster down. It scared me that this ancient technology supported our most critical business operations. 

We needed a major upgrade to vendor-supported hardware and a server OS created in the current decade. My bigger question was whether we stay with three-tier architecture or move to hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI).

Simplified Systems and Support

I’d been interested in HCI for a while, and when I moved to Buchanan County Health Center, I had the opportunity to get my feet wet. Our compute and VDI clusters were technically hyperconverged, but multiple vendors supplied various components, and the setup wasn’t ideal—mainly regarding support.

When multiple vendors supply various components, the situation is far from ideal, especially when it comes to support. #NutanixStories

Two factors encouraged me to take the HCI leap for our replacement. First was the “single pane of glass” benefit. As the leader of a tiny IT team, I usually have to do a million things at once. Simplifying my existing workflow by managing all components from one console appealed to me. Second, I loved the convenience of contacting just one vendor. If I have an issue, we only have to reach out to one entity to address it. Not only does this lower frustration, but it’s more efficient. There are loads of hyperconvergence infrastructure providers out there, so it was just a matter of choosing the right one. And for our team, Nutanix fits the bill.

When I first contacted Nutanix, I spoke with a salesperson who was confident in Nutanix’s ability to answer questions and provide support on the fly. They promised what seemed an impossible degree of support, one that wouldn’t require me to jump through hoops or play phone tag. I would be on the line with an engineer or technician in five minutes or less, regardless of the time, season, or day of the year. It sounded too good to be true, but I had nothing to lose with a trial run.

At the time, I was up all hours of the night caring for my newborn son. I thought, “what better time to test those support claims?” I did—and they picked up the phone 100% of the time, whether it was midnight, 3 a.m., 1 p.m., or any time in between. All I have to do is call Nutanix customer support, tap a few buttons to get to the right line, and I can chat with an engineer about whatever problems I have. The contrast was unmistakable compared to our previous provider’s slow support system.

But the speedy customer service wasn’t the only reason to choose Nutanix. The company also had a stellar reputation. I reached out to other hospitals to evaluate their perspectives on Nutanix and heard nothing but good things. One Omaha provider had been in a similar situation, migrating their MEDITECH stack from another vendor onto Nutanix. They raved about their experience and wished they would’ve done things sooner.

I was sold, and when I presented the evidence, so was our leadership team. At the end of our meeting, my CEO said, “this is your game; go for it.” And with that, we got the deployment underway.

A Newfound Confidence In Our Infrastructure

We got the hardware on-site in February 2022 and completed the migration process in five months. Since our facility was running MEDITECH, we found a MEDITECH integrator, CloudWave, to migrate and set up the data and the applications over to the new Nutanix cluster, which consists of three Nutanix nodes.

About a week and a half before we went live, we noticed that we were only running on two out of three legs in the cluster. After hopping on the phone with Nutanix support, we discovered that one of the nodes had failed. That was on a Wednesday, and within two days, a Nutanix support technician was on site with a replacement node to get us back up and running at full steam again. Nutanix went live without a single issue on July 12, 2022.

Since adopting Nutanix, I’ve come to rely on Nutanix Prism to streamline my workflow. I pop into the console weekly to check on the environment, and in just a few seconds, I can see all events, security updates, and actionable items. I get alerts for anything out of the ordinary, and if something doesn’t make sense, I pull up some articles from the Nutanix knowledge base. If all else fails, I know support is just minutes away.

HCI decreases floor space, which leads to reduced power consumption and energy costs. #NutanixStories

Not only has our new infrastructure saved me a ton of time, but it has decreased the floor space needed in our server room. We went from an entire cabinet to 2U, saving on power consumption and energy costs.

In case you’re wondering, I don’t worry about sneezing in the server room anymore. I feel calm and comfortable knowing that Nutanix supports our critical business functions.

Scaling Up and Out

Now that we have a lot of headroom in our Nutanix environment, I’m looking forward to scaling up even more. Our roadmap involves migrating some redundant services to Nutanix to increase resiliency. Eventually, I’d like to have a Nutanix cluster in a remote clinic to act as a DR environment, and I also hope to migrate our VDI cluster to Nutanix (following the example of another hospital that did the same). Doing that would improve our patient care and user satisfaction.

This project was a big “lift and shift” for such an essential component of our business. If things went sideways, the cost would have been enormous for the organization and me personally. But the move brought a big sigh of relief for my team and the Buchanan County Health Center as well.

The Nutanix team isn’t there to sell a product. They’re there to identify what works best for your tech stack and your organization. If their platform isn’t a good fit, they’re not afraid to say so. But for us, it was everything we needed.