After looking over our network needs, we created a list of criteria for each one. A robust, unified backbone that would give
us the ability to build out compatible VOIP and wireless devices
on our own timetable was a must. We also required
a simple, centralized management system.
In addition, we needed a solution with built-in security that would allow us to create and
maintain access policies that complied with the
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability
Act (HIPAA). All this had to come at a price
we could justify to the hospital’s administration.
After evaluating leading infrastructure
and security vendors, we went with Siemens
Enterprise Communications and its network and
security infrastructure division, Enterasys. We
felt they had the standards-based architecture,
interoperability, security, reliability and cost-per-formance ratio to deliver what we needed. The
bonus: All the company’s networking components
are certified to be compatible with Dräger wireless patient monitors, including their heart monitors, which
will be the first wire-free patient devices to be integrated into
the new infrastructure.
To manage the data, wireless and telephony infrastructure,
we use NMS Policy Manager. This software allows my staff to
automatically centralize all role-based access policies for users,
applications, protocols, virtual LANs, ports and data flows.
A final piece of our network puzzle is the Plixer Scrutinizer.
So far, this tool has worked seamlessly with our Siemens
hardware and software. Scrutinizer conducts sFlow and
NetFlow traffic analysis to tell us which users
are demanding the most bandwidth and to help
us remove any latency to improve VOIP voice
quality. We can also receive trending reports
and set up alarms on any high-risk activity, such
as internal network SYN, NULL, FIN, XMAS
Scans, RST/ACK worms, P2P, ICMP Unreachable, illegal IP addresses, excessive Multicast
traffic or known compromised Internet hosts.
patient-monitoring devices. Also, we wanted a secure connection
so patients and visitors could access the Internet safely.
THE DEPLOYMENT: STEP BY STEP
The deployment was relatively painless because Siemens’
engineering and support team led us step by step through each
phase of the deployment and empowered us to take ownership
of the network once the install was finished.
The switches we chose to serve as the backbone of the network provide scalable, wire-rate support for environments
like ours, which require complete multilayer switching capabilities. Support for high-density 10/100/1000 Ethernet ports,
10 Gigabit Ethernet ports and dynamic routing capabilities was
essential. With so many medical devices touching our network,
we needed the ability to push GbE to the ports that needed them.
We also saw great value in the flow-based policy built into
the switches. For the first time, our network has complete visibility. The IT staff has total control of individual users and can
set up role-based access to all the voice/video/data applications.
The next step involved wireless and telephony. The wireless component was a crucial ingredient because it would drive
both the wireless patient zone and the hospital’s Internet connection for visitors. We chose HiPath Wireless controllers and
access points for remote connectivity.
With wireless, caregivers can securely check on a patient’s
progress, regulate medication or add patient notes anywhere,
anytime. The wireless software, controllers and access points
gave us a cost-effective way to deploy 802.11a/b/g across the
hospital, delivering wired/wireless integration, while supporting mobile voice, data and location-based applications.
For the telephony portion of the upgrade, we chose the
HiPath 4000 VOIP solution. It united the previously fragmented phone system and has already reduced the cost of
interdepartmental phone calls between the hospital’s facilities.
REDUCED FRUSTRATION, HIGHER ROI
Since implementing the Siemens Enterprise
Communications solution, we have seen a significant increase in network efficiency, coupled
with a decrease in help desk tickets throughout
the hospital. While the troubleshooting versus
proactive-planning ratio was once about 80 percent to 20 percent, we have completely flipped that ratio.
Instead of spending most of the day answering phone
calls and responding to issues, we can plan for future processes, technologies and applications. As a result, our hospital user-satisfaction rate increased in the last year.
It wasn’t until the VOIP solution was up and running that
we realized the sheer number of interdepartmental phone
calls that occur each day—and the thousands of dollars per
month the hospital is now saving with our new system. In
addition to the modern VOIP features, the staff likes being
able to call anyone within the hospital network by just pushing
a button, instead of having to memorize a list of phone numbers. For the VOIP telephony segment of the deployment,
we expect a full ROI in less than five years, which pleases the
And because of NMS and Plixer’s Scrutinizer, we now have
unprecedented visibility into the network, which has enabled
us to create and enforce compliance policies that are crucial
in the health care industry. We’ve also seen a decrease in the
costs associated with the hospital’s energy consumption, tech
support and maintenance. Another bonus: Enterasys switches
come with a lifetime warranty, so we don’t have to allocate
funds to replace failed switches.
It’s been fairly easy to implement, configure and manage
the network. Today, my staff of two administrators can focus
on helping our caregivers in the hospital instead of troubleshooting the network. We no longer hear the phrase, “That’s
a network issue.” 3
Mike Miller, network administrator for Samaritan Hospital, has
13 years of IT experience and manages the network infrastructure.
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BASELINE JULY/AUGUST 2010