Domino Helps Bring Healthcare Home

Nowhere is the need for accurate, timely information more important than the healthcare field. Recognizing how critical it is for healthcare professionals to have access to information without having to worry about the performance of back-end systems, Apria Healthcare is in the process of enhancing its IT infrastructure using Domino native on the AS/400.

Apria is currently testing its new AS/400 environment, and trying to determine how the IT staff will roll it out into production, according to George Suda, VP of technology for Apria Healthcare (Costa Mesa, Calif.). The company currently has 93 AS/400s distributed throughout several locations, but is looking to consolidate those servers on a single 12-way S40 front-ended by nine to 12 SB-1s. This S40 will have 20 GB of main storage and 1.5 TB of DASD.

Apria is in the process of replacing its home-grown architecture to create a single database server, Suda explains. "We're looking to get to a more centralized view of data," he says.

The home healthcare company's IT staff will use Lotus Notes as a mail engine in conjunction with SAP ERP software, according to Suda. The primary decision will be whether to have this new architecture centralized or decentralized. "A centralized approach would be easier to maintain and require less equipment," he says, adding, "a decentralized approach would help keep network traffic off the WAN, thus decreasing bandwidth requirements. It's a case of centralized administration vs. adding bandwidth."

Apria, a company specializing in home healthcare and home healthcare equipment, will also go from a Frame Relay network with Cisco routers to switched Fast Ethernet. Suda is hoping the new software architecture will better serve the company. Apria will use this centralization process as an opportunity to consolidate its various forms of OS/400 to a single release of Version 4 on the company's new S40.

The company was sold on the notion of Domino native on the AS/400 even before the architecture overhaul, Suda points out. "The AS/400 is a true box," he says. "It doesn't fall apart." Apria's implementation of Domino on the AS/400 is typical of what IBM is seeing from companies looking to consolidate resources, according to Kelly Schmotzer, worldwide groupware marketing manager for AS/400 brand, specializing in Domino.

Until this past year, this sort of consolidation wasn't available to AS/400 users, Schmotzer says. The AS/400 provides scalability and reliability to Notes Mail serving. "[Before Domino native on the AS/400] you didn't see users putting more than a few hundred users on each mail server."

Apria's Domino implementation follows a recent large-scale Domino project implemented at IBM's own Rochester facility. Rochester's AS/400 Domino configuration supports about 7,000 e-mail users. Another 1,000 are expected to have been added by the end of the second quarter.