Founded in 1954, ARA has not only stored digital images since 2001, but has also offered image storage services to other practices for the past 12 years. Today, its more than 90 radiologists read and store the vast majority of central Texas’ imaging studies, which means that the practice adds over 900,000 radiological exams annually to its archive. As of 2014, ARA had 450 TB of images under management, and was adding 37 TB of new data every year.

But as radiological images move from two to three dimensions, the data growth problems are growing more extreme. Three-dimensional mammography images, for example, are 20 times larger than two-dimensional images. If ARA continued with a traditional storage refresh cycle, in 2018 it would face a 555 TB migration in mammography images alone, and by 2022 it would need to migrate an additional petabyte of mammography images. By 2024, ARA projects to ingest 3 PB annually on mammography alone.

With its traditional storage array 97 percent full and no end in sight to accelerating data growth, ARA’s CIO, R. Todd Thomas, looked to the cloud for a solution. Most appealing to him was the prospect of eliminating image migrations – the last 150 TB migration took 10 months to complete, and he did not relish the thought of migrating more than half a petabyte.

After investigating a number of options, Thomas and his team decided on Nasuni, which leverages high-performance dedicated appliances coupled with Nasuni’s patented UniFS file system for the cloud to provide global access to data with local performance and unlimited scalability.

In addition, Nasuni solves the added problems of protection, archive, security and management of file data storage all at a fraction of the cost of legacy solutions. The combination of Nasuni’s client-controlled encryption keys and Azure’s secure, audited, compliant data centers allowed ARA to be sure its patients’ personal health information would be safe and stored in compliance with HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) requirements.

Nasuni provided ARA with a simple bill for usable storage, which includes an unlimited number of snapshots of the entire file share at no additional charge. ARA knows annually what its storage spend will be, and it is a much lower cost per usable TB than it received traditional array vendors, especially once the cost of providing traditional data protection is included.

What’s more, in ARA’s tests, Nasuni’s performance exceeded that of the incumbent. When images were stored in the cache, Nasuni performed 21 percent faster than the incumbent transferring the first image and was still significantly faster delivering a complete study.

"It’s clear that the cloud is the future for the storage of digital medical images," Thomas said. "There’s no other way we could scale efficiently enough to cope with data growth and not break the bank. And there are other advantages as well with a service like Nasuni: a consolidated, simple monthly bill that charges only for usable storage; automatic data protection; centralized management; and one throat to choke when we encounter issues.

"The medical imaging industry is undergoing a massive shift to three dimensional images, a trend that will exponentially exacerbate their already painful situation managing data growth," said Andres Rodriguez, CEO of Nasuni.