Navy hospital moves to NT

Lt. Kevin
Darnell, the hospital’s CIO, says one of the biggest challenges was integrating 50
legacy medical apps.





Between June and mid-August last year, Lt. Kevin Darnell managed a migration to
Microsoft Exchange and Windows NT Workstation 4.0 from three different e-mail systems and
Windows for Workgroups 3.11.


Darnell, chief information officer at the Naval Hospital in Bremerton, Wash., oversees
a network with 700 PCs and four remote locations in the Puget Sound area.


After inventorying systems, Darnell and his colleagues replaced half of the 486 PCs
with leased 233-MHz Hewlett-Packard Co. Pentium II systems. The rollout went so well that
Navy managers approved a second three-year lease with the reseller, McBride and Associates
Inc. of Albuquerque, N.M., to replace the remaining 486s with 333-MHz HP systems.


Having no prior knowledge of the second lease, hospital technicians had stripped the
hard drives and memory from some of the replaced systems to the remaining 486 PCs, but
they had problems with drivers and incompatible hardware, Darnell said.


After the migration, all users, regardless of rank or job title, can run 32-bit
applications. Darnell said he encountered some hidden costs during the Windows NT
migration, but the benefits outweighed the drawbacks.


Darnell tried to adhere to just-in-time logistics—getting the new computers in and
the old ones out simultaneously. He said the benefits will come in training and in having
a common operating environment on the same configuration throughout the enterprise. He
also expects to lower costs of ownership through a better knowledge of the hospital’s
assets.


During a pilot rollout, Navy officials estimated the migration would take 10 weeks. To
cut down on the time, they enlisted Key Metrology Inc. of Bellevue, Wash., to integrate
Microsoft BackOffice software.


The hospital has 700 PCs but 1,200 accounts, so Darnell and his colleagues had to make
sure that users could access the network from any station. They also standardized on a
naming convention: last name and first initial.


A year earlier, the hospital had migrated to Windows NT Server 4.0 as the network
operating system. The main home directory and profiles server is an InterServe 650 system
from Intergraph Corp. of Huntsville, Ala. The hospital also has an InterServe 660 server
for Exchange plus Dell Computer Corp. dual-Pentium PowerEdge 2300 servers in the four
remote clinics.


“We brought the dental clinic into the enterprise,” Darnell said.


To streamline PC software installation, the team used Ghost disk imaging software,
developed by Binary Research Ltd. of Auckland, New Zealand, but now sold by Symantec Corp.
of Cupertino, Calif. Ghost reduced installation time from four hours per PC to 40 minutes,
Darnell said.


The team installed McAfee VirusScan from Network Associates Inc. of Santa Clara, Calif.
It acquired the software through a Defense Department-wide site license contract.


It also deployed Cheyenne ARCServe, from Computer Associates International Inc., with a
tape library add-on for the hospital’s tape library from Exabyte Corp. of Boulder,
Colo. It automatically backs up user files stored on the Intergraph server each night.


The computer room has a Powerware Plus uninterruptible power system from Exide
Electronics Corp. of Raleigh, N.C., as well as about 20 UPSes from American Power
Conversion Corp. of West Kingston, R.I., connected to hubs and servers, Darnell said.


In addition to reinforcing the hospital’s firewall, Microsoft Proxy Server 2.0 has
reduced Internet traffic 30 percent by caching, said Patrick Flaherty, the lead network
engineer at the hospital. “It’s seamless to the users, but they are aware of the
faster Internet response times,” he said.


Telecommuters can access Microsoft Exchange and Outlook from the Web, Darnell said.


Hospital technicians re-motely monitor all critical hubs, routers and servers, and when
a system goes down, they page a systems engineer.


One of the biggest challenges was to integrate 50 legacy medical applications into the
client-server network, Darnell said. A special team exclusively handled older applications
and unique problems. “Each noncompliant application required a different
solution,” he said.


After completing the transition last month, Darnell rolled up his sleeves to tackle
another issue: year 2000 network readiness. 

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