Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University: Distributed storage safeguards imaging data


Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University was founded in 1956 and is located at the waterfront of the East Lake. The hospital has over 3,300 beds and is equipped with world-leading medical facilities, such as DSCT, 3.0 NMR, ECT, MLC LINAC. The laboratory department of the hospital carries out clinical, research, and teaching activities. Supported by ECG, ultrasound, X-ray, NMR, and other advanced technologies, the hospital has the most advanced medical inspection and analysis in China.

As a key Class III hospital in Hubei Province, the hospital is a pioneer in the application of IT services. The volume and types of data increase along with the business growth of the hospital. Current storage facilities cannot support even complicated demands and data storage is facing various challenges.

Data volume increases. Business growth and higher-precision medical devices have led to a sharp increase in the amount of data. One X-ray film can be up to several tens of MB and inspection data needs to be stored for a long time. The PB-level storage system is now a basic requirement.

Data safety. Medical data is the core asset of a hospital and patients’ data normally needs to be stored for years. Data safety is of utmost importance. Therefore, disaster recovery and redundancy are indispensable for hospital storage scenarios.

Future expansion. The storage architecture needs to satisfy both current and future needs. According to statistics, a hospital expanded the storage system every one or two years. Thus, seamless expansion is one of the key considerations when selecting the storage system.



Based on the application characteristics of the hospital, Inspur customized a distributed storage solution based on five AS13000-M3 (as the high-density storage node). This distributed storage cluster is highly reliable and scalable and has a large capacity to support medical imaging data storage.

Capacity. The distributed storage cluster consists of five AS13000-M3 nodes. Each node contains 35 8T hard drives and the total storage capacity is 1.4PB, providing PB-level storage to handle the hospital imaging data.

Reliability. Inspur AS13000 provides multi-level data protection and disaster recovery and supports two data protection modes: copy and erasure coding. Considering the long-term and lossless storage requirement, Inspur proposed a data redundancy backup of three copies.

Scalability. Inspur AS13000 supports minute-level expansion and the maximum capacity is 5,120 nodes. The performance increases linearly with the expansion so that the capacity and performance of the hospital storage system can expand as needed in the future.


It is worth mentioning that, in the face of more and more unstructured data in hospitals, Inspur AS13000 can provide various data services such as files, blocks, objects, and big data. It supports sound waves, pictures, videos, and other types of data. Also, it caters to future application scenarios, such as the medical cloud and health big data. Since the size of files in the same cluster directory may vary greatly, Inspur AS13000 provides several performance optimization methods (such as large file splitting and small file aggregation) to fully guarantee the read and write requirements of large/small files. Also, the storage cluster provides distributed block services to adapt to multiple front-end business systems, specifically to meet the read and write requirements of PACS files (~1MB), so that system will not slow down when calling and accessing patient image data.

Besides, the solution plans a separate space for the network disk system to achieve concurrent data read/write of thousands of terminals, which allows file storage and image data sharing and viewing in various departments of the hospital.