Data Center DNA: Q&A With Data Center Veteran Lauren Jensen

Lauren Jensen of Providence Health shares insight into their data center model.

Lauren Jensen currently works at Providence Health as Director of Data Center Operations. Lauren’s IT career began in 1975 when he was first trained on infrastructure operations and facilities management in the U.S. Navy. In the 45 years since, he has run data centers and infrastructure operations teams, responsible for servers, storage, and networks . He counts building data centers for Brunswick Marine, Intermec, Getty Images, T-Mobile, and Providence among his career highlights.

Recently, Lauren took part in a question and answer session during our dcDNA Seattle 2021 online event.

Lauren Jensen

Q: Would you please tell us a little about Providence’s data center journey and how you configure your networks for resiliency?

A: We have very sensitive applications that can’t have much delay or downtime. Even 45 milliseconds of latency is too much on top of the risk of a power outage when working with dosing equipment, baby monitors, etc. These are critical to keep patients alive and hospitals running. Between the data centers in Sabey’s Quincy and Seattle, Washington locations, the latency is so low that it gives us the ability to keep live and concurrent data on both of our sites. Maintenance and upgrades have become much smoother to manage. Downtime has been significantly reduced, strengthening our resiliency. Also, working with Sabey, we can review contracts and prioritize cost savings so that the focus is on optimizing productivity at the hospital.

Q: You consolidated multiple data centers in different geographic areas to just a few facilities. How difficult was this process? How did you convince stakeholders that it was a good idea to do this?

A: It was very hard, but it provided tremendous cost savings. We consolidated our infrastructure into two primary data centers on the aforementioned Sabey campuses and maintain a legacy data center in Las Vegas. We took the emotion out of it, looked at the benefits, and invested the time and effort to pull this off. We were able to give back space to the hospitals, as it was no longer needed for IT use.

Q: How has cloud strategy changed Providence’s data center model?

A: The model is simple: cloud first. With that marching order, we are able to operate much more simply and efficiently for parts of our platforms. There are some companies that operate with very simple architecture, but huge healthcare systems like ours are not there yet. We have many applications that often require very specific parametric drivers that make our servers more unique, like snowflakes, rather than cookie-cutter.

With those table stakes we have worked very hard to identify what is cloud-ready, cloud-capable, or on-prem necessary. We are operating our on-prem services more efficiently by transitioning away from the old standards of who owns specific tasks and moving as much as possible to the left. This allows for automation to reserve and assign IP’s, do base server loads, and establish monitoring.

We have increased our compute options, built efficiency into our data center operations through increased density and more fully utilized infrastructure, and taken large amounts of time out of compute delivery timelines—all while increasing the importance of the data center operations team’s impact and skill level.

Q: Are increasing renewable energy requirements having a limiting effect on new datacenter location selection?

A: Our entire Health System is driving strong efforts to reduce our carbon footprint. We happen to be very fortunate to be teamed up with Sabey Data Centers. They have long been extremely interested in renewable energy, as well as utilizing outside air economization to the highest levels. Other cost savings and carbon footprint improvements we have made across our 800+ sites have included identifying and eliminating underutilized and forgotten infrastructure and removing it from the data center environment. With amazing support from our most senior leadership, we were able to look in every corner and under every rock of the organization to decommission thousands of devices, saving over 700 kW of power.

Q: Why did you choose Sabey Data Centers?

A: We required a data center provider that “shared our DNA,” and Sabey absolutely understands the IT infrastructure needs of healthcare organizations. Our patients are put at risk by data center outages, and we have had no downtime with Sabey. You heard that right – none.

Further, I have high expectations of our data center partner and in the end, Sabey passes muster. The meticulous cleanliness of every Sabey Data Center is a testament to their high standards.

Dave Sabey has long taken an active interest in healthcare, and shares our vision to provide healthcare to everyone, and most importantly, the poor and vulnerable who struggle to obtain it. Sabey treats everyone it does business with as an equal, always working very hard to land on a fair deal for both parties. It has been a joy to see senior Sabey executives interact with my most junior employees like two friends chatting.

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