Docker Helps Varian Medical Systems Battle Cancer

Docker Helps Varian Medical Systems Battle Cancer


Focused on taking the fear out of cancer, Varian Medical Systems is a leading oncology institute, developing radiation treatments and software to improve the patient experience as they go through the most difficult time in their life, battling cancer. The organization is located in Palo Alto, CA and was founded in 1948. Varian is developing solutions all around the world have experts located in China, India, Europe and South America. Each team is focused on improving coordination, breaking down the silos that exist, and increasing the amount decisions that are made based on data.


Varian Medical’s mission is to create a better experience for patients by developing a centralized place where patients and their families can store medical documents, detail about their treatments and notes, so that the information is readily available to anybody in the family. To make this possible they needed a way to deliver new features to the system as quickly as possible, but in a secure manner for their developers because they are dealing with patient data. The management team realized that the time it was taking for an upgrade of the legacy application was way too long and way too complicated. They needed to migrate their services to a more REST-based, API-based, microservices architecture. The biggest pain they dealt with was the ability to get their developer environment setup quickly. This slowed down their application releases, as their devs spent hours or sometimes even days getting situated. They needed an easy to use platform so their developers could get set up within just a few minutes and start deploying apps out to production. The average deployment time prior to Docker could take up to 6 months to deploy to production. At the same time, they needed to ensure that their image content stored within their registry was properly secured.


Varian medical uses several Docker tools to accelerate their application delivery. The team there uses Docker Hub, our SaaS based image registry as well as Docker Security Scanning, and Support from the Docker team. By leveraging Docker Security Scanning, our technology that performs a binary scan of each of the layers within an image, the team is able to scan their images for any abnormalities, and then automatically push updates of each image. The tool, along with Docker Content Trust, our image signing tool is available in Docker Hub. Varian uses Hub extensively to store all their images for the signing and the security scanning and has 20 private image repositories in Hub today. They also trust in Docker Support to help them maintain their speed. For example they had some initial hookup problems trying to convert a personal private repository, owned by one of their employees, into the main repository that their entire organization uses. Docker support was very helpful in getting all this ironed out. Visibility into where their applications are running is another benefit of using Docker. They can tag images, sign them and know exactly where they are running in production. If an abnormalities arise, they can push updates quickly. By using Docker, Varian Medical is able to deploy at unprecedented speeds for a healthcare institution. The ability to have the same consistent environment that is not only fast, but compliant is a massive advantage for them. In the past it took them nearly 4-6 months to deploy a single application to production. Now they can deploy out to production in just two days! This is considered lightning speed for any healthcare organization Varian is now able to deliver the best possible experience for cancer patients, and their families via new features that can be deployed quickly with Docker.