State Healthcare Agency Selects CTERA’s Enterprise File Services Platform and AWS to Reduce TCO by 75%

  • Replaced Windows Storage servers and expensive offsite backup service with an all-in-one Cloud Storage Services Platform
  • Adopted IT-as-a-Service delivery model thanks to automated, scalable delivery tool
  • Leveraged AWS Cloud for secure disaster recovery and central file services
  • Facilitated secure file synchronization and sharing, consumer-grade ease-of-use with always-on data access from any device
  • Enabled HIPAA and State regulatory compliance
  • Reduced TCO by 75%, saved millions, while facilitating greater productivity and security

Company Background

Texas Department of State Health Services (Texas DSHS), one of the largest state health agencies in the United States, is an agency within the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC). Texas DSHS engages 12,000 employees in over 100 geographic locations and 13 hospitals in 11 regions. Its mission statement is to improve public health and well-being in Texas.

Read about Texas (DSHS) Migration of Storage to the Cloud Download IDC Case Study

The Challenge

To ensure the highest levels of organizational productivity, DSHS employees need the ability to access their files anytime, anywhere, from a variety of devices, and easily share files with colleagues and other agencies. Organizationally, DSHS also must ensure that sensitive information is governed with the utmost data security and patient data be treated with strict confidentiality to comply with government regulations (such as HIPAA).

With thousands of employees generating data across more than 100 locations, managing Windows file servers was becoming expensive, time-consuming and limiting in terms of central management and mobile access. Server backup was also an issue, where data protection services were costing DSHS millions of dollars per year. To modernize their IT operations, DSHS IT managers needed to find a solution that would provide mobile collaboration capabilities as well as transform their IT organization into an internal data storage and data protection IT-as-a-Service provider.

The desired remote office solution had to combine on-site file server capabilities with backup software for office servers, tools to enable automated off-site backup for DR and scalability to support remote, centralized management that was able to scale to hundreds of locations and thousands of users, all at a reasonable cost. Additionally, the organization was looking for mobile collaboration tools that could be hosted from within its firewall and ideally managed as part of the total solution.

To comply with federal and state data privacy regulations, including HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, the agency needed to ensure that the solution and its management enabled the complete isolation of sensitive data from third parties.

The CTERA Solution

After an extensive search, DSHS selected CTERA’s Cloud Storage Services Platform, deployed in AWS Virtual Private Cloud.  The CTERA configuration includes cloud storage gateway appliances installed on-premises at DSHS locations, software agents and apps for endpoint backup and mobile collaboration, as well as centralized, cloud-based management for managing services, users and connected devices.  All of the data from user devices and gateways seamlessly syncs to a Virtual Private Cloud (VPC), or firewalled resource, operated within AWS Public Cloud.

DSHS deployed the entire range of CTERA’s cloud storage gateways, from the 2-bay C200 to the 8-bay C800 Plus that is capable of supporting up to 1,000 concurrent users, as well backup agents for office server data protection. The CTERA cloud storage gateway is presented on the network as a regular file server via the Windows File Sharing protocol (CIFS), allowing users to store, share and protect their files. The appliances were simple to deploy, automatically retrieved user privileges from Windows ACLs, and immediately connected to AWS Virtual Private Cloud to begin replicating snapshots to the cloud.

CTERA is our major enabler for data storage, data protection and collaboration agenda. Using CTERA’s Platform allows DSHS to access data from AWS Virtual Private Cloud anytime, anywhere, from any device, while ensuring both security and privacy – all with a total cost savings of 75%.

Mike Cardwell, Director of Information Technology Texas Department of State Health Services

For enterprise file sync & share, thousands of CTERA agents and apps were installed across DSHS user workstations, phones and tablets. CTERA’s template-based approach to IT user administration makes it simple for DSHS to centrally provision users, push firmware updates and update service plans.

Providing full integration with corporate Active Directory and single sign-on (SSO), CTERA’s platform authenticates users, governs file access and ensures that all data is protected using AES encryption both in-transit and at rest. Data is backed up to AWS Public Cloud and is encrypted at the source with key management that DSHS exclusively owns and operates to ensure the greatest level of data privacy. Moreover, CTERA’s mobile apps enable DSHS to remotely wipe lost or stolen mobile devices to ensure data security from a central location. All of DSHS’s data is protected and securely stored in AWS Virtual Private Cloud separate from Amazon’s generic public cloud infrastructure.

For DSHS’s office servers – CTERA’s data protection software enables the organization to protect and easily recover files without needing to back up entire volumes or deal with complex, time-consuming recovery. CTERA’s hybrid approach to branch office backup is a dual-stage backup – where data is first backed up to a local appliance and then the appliance replicates data to the cloud using smart, capacity-optimized incremental snapshot tools. A hybrid approach ensures that data recovery is fast for common data loss incidents, while CTERA’s snapshot-based gateway replication tools provide simple, off-site disaster recovery capability in case of a local disaster.

To conclude, with the CTERA cloud storage services platform, DSHS transformed its business of IT and found a cost-effective, centrally managed and secure IT delivery model vs. traditional approaches to branch office and IT user data services. DSHS users are more productive than ever, now able to securely access and share data from any device, where data is automatically protected and easily recoverable in the event of system or data loss.  Above all, the cloud-based approach to IT delivery ensures that the DSHS IT organization can implement centralized management and control over organizational file sharing, contain all of the data and encryption services within its firewall, and easily enforce data sharing and protection policies.  With a projected savings of over $5M and TCO reductions of 75%+, the CTERA and AWS solution represents a step function change in the economics and simplicity that only a cloud-based Data Services Platform can deliver.

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