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Sentara Gets 3x Faster Performance and Eliminates Downtime for EHR and MSSQL on Azure with Silk

To make a long story short...

Who are they?

Sentara Healthcare is a not-for-profit healthcare organization in Virginia and North Carolina

What did they need?

Faster performance on Azure for their EHR workloads and reduced ETL downtime for SQL reporting engine.

How did Silk help?

Enabled lift and shift of their most complex workloads while offering the ultra-fast performance these workloads need. Snapshot capabilities enabled end-users to access copies of reporting data during ETL process.

What were the results?

3x faster performance

20% lower costs offered through 2:1 data compression

Reduced ETL downtime from 7-10 hours to 15 minutes


And now for the details.

Sentara Overview

Sentara Healthcare is a not-for-profit healthcare organization serving Virginia and northeastern North Carolina. It offers services in 12 acute care hospitals with 3,739 beds, 10 nursing centers, and 3 assisted living facilities. In addition, Sentara operates its own managed-care plan which covers 1 million subscribers in the region. 

Business Challenges

Sentara has a professional and expert team that handles its highly advanced electronic health records (EHR) deployment. The team decided that it would be in the company’s best interest to move all of its EHR onto Microsoft Azure. These workloads tend to be large, complex, and difficult to migrate to the cloud. Sentara was leveraging Azure NetApp Files (ANF) to make the move. Yet, ANF didn’t offer Sentara the performance that its EHR workloads demanded.

In addition to adopting the cloud, Sentara wanted to find a way to reduce the downtime to the SQL reporting engine in its EHR system that was experiencing every night as it went through its ETL process. On average, this process takes about 7-10 hours, and during that time the database is inaccessible to the providers and patients who need it.

On top of all that, it was projected that the company’s current cloud spend would grow 10% YoY, bloating the company’s OPEX expenditure. Sentara needed a solution that would give them the ultra-fast performance their workloads need, help them reduce downtime, and help them stay within their OPEX budget.

Introducing Silk on Azure

After careful evaluation, Sentara decided there was only one solution to its cloud challenges: Silk.

The Silk Cloud DB Virtualization Platform sits between customers’ workloads and the underlying cloud infrastructure, making it easy to accelerate cloud adoption by simply lifting and shifting the entire complex workload onto the cloud – with no need to refactor. Silk delivers up to 10x faster performance compared to native cloud alone, without changing a thing about customers’ underlying applications or infrastructure. The platform includes enterprise data services, such as instantaneous zero-footprint snapshots, deduplication, and thin-provisioning. These data services allow Silk users to quickly make as many copies of data as they need without eating up precious cloud resources and actually help to reduce the number of cloud resources being used, helping to keep their cloud spend in check. And with always-on availability, Silk is the ideal solution for customers who are looking to move their most important workloads to Azure.

“The performance with Silk on Azure could not be met by any other cloud solution for our most intense workloads, including our EHR. Silk and Azure are a powerful combination for complex workloads on the cloud.”
Matt Douglas | Chief Architect


Sentara worked with ContineoHealth, a healthcare technology consulting firm that specializes in EHR implementation, to get more info and ultimately to get licenses of the Silk Cloud DB Virtualization Platform.

With Silk, Sentara was able to achieve 3x faster performance than what they would have seen through native cloud alone. And with 2:1 data compression, Sentara’s advanced EHR and Cloud teams were able to reduce the number of Azure resources it uses, helping to cut their cloud costs by up to 20%. 

Meanwhile, Silk’s enterprise data services made it possible for the Sentara team to take a snapshot of the database every night and mount it to two other SQL Server hosts as the reporting environment went into ETL. This helped the team reduce downtime from 7-10 hours per night to less than 15 minutes, giving end-users nearly 24/7 access to their data.

Overall, Sentara was thrilled with the introduction of Silk to its stack. “The performance with Silk on Azure could not be met by any other cloud solution for our most intense workloads, including our EHR,” said Matt Douglas, Chief Architect, Sentara. “Silk and Azure are a powerful combination for complex workloads on the cloud.” 

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