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Posted: 6/6/2014
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Buffalo Hospital Supply Hospital Supply Firm Keeps Supply Chain Running Smoothly with Cloud-Based Disaster Recovery

Buffalo Hospital Supply (BHS), a regional distributor of medical products to healthcare facilities, wanted to reduce risk with a new disaster-recovery solution. BHS decided to run Manhattan SCALE, its mission-critical supply-chain solution, on-premises with Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Enterprise and in the cloud on the Microsoft Azure platform. The company synchronizes data with the SQL Server 2012 AlwaysOn feature. As a result, BHS can continue operating under virtually any circumstances, which gives it a stronger competitive advantage. In addition, both BHS and Manhattan Associates benefit from easier deployment in the cloud.


Business Needs

Buffalo Hospital Supply (BHS) is a regional distributor of medical products to healthcare facilities. Based in Buffalo, New York, BHS delivers products that range from disposable medical supplies and surgical equipment to diagnostic and nutritional supplies. With hospitals and nursing homes throughout the region relying on BHS for timely delivery, the company is always looking for new ways to enhance its distribution network.

In 2003, BHS replaced manual processes in its central data center with a product from Manhattan Associates, a leading global provider of supply-chain solutions. BHS now uses the vendor’s Manhattan SCALE platform, a comprehensive suite of logistics management tools, to handle its entire distribution network. BHS also began providing valuable feedback to Manhattan Associates as it developed new features.

More upgrades followed over the years, and BHS ultimately decided that it was time to take a closer look at its data center infrastructure. In addition to installing the latest update from Manhattan Associates, BHS wanted better availability and an innovative disaster-recovery solution. “There are always options for off-site backup, but we needed something that would be more reactive,” says Jim Casselman, Chief Information Officer at Buffalo Hospital Supply. “We have distribution agreements with customers that require same day delivery to critical areas such as the Surgical and Emergency Departments. In some instances, facilities that place orders in the morning must be delivered by that afternoon. So if there were any kind of a disaster at our facility—manmade or otherwise—we carry a tremendous amount of risk with just an on-premises solution.”

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* Deploying Manhattan SCALE on the Microsoft Azure platform...we have realized the benefits of rapid deployment and a quick ROI along with the reassurances of operating in a secure and stable environment. *

Jim Casselman
Chief Information Officer
Buffalo Hospital Supply

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Solution

Instead of extending the on-premises infrastructure to another physical location, Manhattan Associates suggested that BHS connect to the cloud on the Microsoft Azure platform. “We were intrigued by the idea of having a ‘hot’ backup on Microsoft Azure,” says Daryll Barr, Director of Product Management at Manhattan Associates. “For example, our customers had a near miss in Buffalo when Hurricane Sandy came ashore. Disasters like this illustrate the importance of having a flexible recovery option.”

So in February 2013 Manhattan and BHS began planning a proof of concept at the Microsoft Technology Center in Atlanta, Georgia. Based on the Windows Server 2012 Datacenter operating system and Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Enterprise software, the installation featured a high-availability solution based on Hyper-V virtualization technology. Equally critical, the team implemented a high-availability solution based on SQL Server 2012 AlwaysOn, a feature that keeps data synchronized between the on-premises databases and database replicas maintained in Microsoft Azure. AlwaysOn makes it possible for applications to automatically connect to the database replicas stored off-premises during an emergency, while Manhattan SCALE continues running in the cloud. The solution also includes a virtual private network (VPN), which connects on-premises infrastructure and radio frequency (RF) devices used throughout the supply chain to Microsoft Azure.

BHS began testing the new hybrid cloud environment in its data center in September 2013. The disaster-recovery solution is just the first step. In the future, the company looks forward to moving its entire operation to the cloud on Microsoft Azure.

Benefits

Buffalo Hospital Supply is ensuring continuous business operations and building a stronger competitive advantage with Manhattan SCALE running on Microsoft Azure. Manhattan Associates benefits as well from a solution it can deploy quickly and easily in the cloud for more customers.

Quick ROI and Peace of Mind

With a hybrid cloud based on SQL Server 2012 Enterprise and Microsoft Azure, BHS can implement a disaster-recovery solution quickly and affordably without costly investment in additional infrastructure. The ultimate result is business continuity and peace of mind. Casselman says, “I sleep better at night knowing I have a disaster-recovery solution in place with Manhattan SCALE running both on-premises and on Microsoft Azure.”

However, a new disaster-recovery solution is just the beginning for BHS. “While we were certainly in need of a disaster- recovery solution, where we’re headed in the future also drove our decision. For a company like ours, with limited staffing and resources, deploying Manhattan Scale on the Microsoft Azure platform is very appealing. We have realized the benefits of rapid deployment and a quick ROI along with the reassurances of operating in a secure and stable environment.“

Stronger Competitive Advantage

Casselman believes that the solution will also give BHS a competitive advantage with larger healthcare systems that have extensive delivery networks. “We’re facing competitors with global operations, and, as a smaller, independent company, one of the first questions that we’re asked when we’re approached for a large proposal is how we ensure that we can move product in the event of a disaster. Now, we can confidently answer that question with a solution from Microsoft and Manhattan Associates.”

Easier Implementation

Manhattan Associates benefits as well from easier, cloud-based deployment. “We didn’t have to change the Manhattan SCALE application at all to run on Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Services, and that’s the beauty of this project,” says Barr. “We were able to take an existing product, with no changes whatsoever, and offer it as a disaster-recovery solution in the cloud. Now our customers know that whatever happens, they can process orders and get things out the door.”

This case study is for informational purposes only.
Solution Overview



Organization Size: 110 employees

Organization Profile

Established in 1977, Buffalo Hospital Supply is a leading regional distributor of supplies to healthcare facilities in the Northeastern United States.


Software and Services
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Enterprise
  • Microsoft Hyper-V
  • Microsoft Azure
  • Windows Server 2012 Datacenter

Vertical Industries
Wholesale Distribution

Country/Region
United States

Business Need
Cloud & Server Platform

IT Issue
Cloud Services

Languages
English

Partner(s)
Manhatten Associates

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