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ATM Network Increases Performance: Services for Medical Staff and Patients Are Available Without Delay.

David Porter
Senior LAN/WAN Specialist
Women & Infants Hospital
Providence, Rhode Island


Network failure is not an option for us when lives depend on uptime. X-rays, patient records, registration information, even fetal monitoring, depend heavily on our data network.

Women & Infants Hospital in Providence, R.I., is the primary teaching and research affiliate in obstetrics, gynecology and newborn pediatrics for Brown University School of Medicine. It is the birthplace for more than 60 percent of Rhode Islanders, with close to 9,000 births each year. The hospital cares for more than 1,000 critically ill newborns in its neonatal intensive care unit annually. In addition, nearly 7,000 gynecologic and general surgery patients come to the hospital every year for specialty services.

These lives are why the hospital decided in 1997 that it needed to build higher performance and reliability into its campus data network. The hospital's network links nine buildings in a 10-block area of downtown Providence via microwave and fiber optics, and it provides dialup and ISDN connections to 27 physicians' offices. The campus network also is now connected via an Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) wide area network to Kent County Memorial Hospital in Warwick, with a connection planned to Butler Hospital in Providence.

The network that existed at Women & Infants Hospital prior to 1998 was a large, flat, shared 10 megabits per second (Mbps) network. Although the network was reliable, some segments were overloaded and were frequently retransmitting traffic because of collisions. The collision domain was too large and the broadcast ratio was too high. All this contributed to slow performance; intermittent, erratic behavior, and inability to add new bandwidth-intensive services that today's hospitals require.


To serve hospital staff, patients, and partner physicians well, Women & Infants needed to build a higher-performing network. We decided to migrate from a shared Ethernet (10 Mbps) network for our 2,000 network nodes to switched Ethernet and Fast Ethernet (100 Mbps). Switching delivers the full 10 Mbps or 100 Mbps network bandwidth to end points that need it instead of dividing bandwidth among all end points attached to a hub.

At the time, the Senior LAN/Wan Specialist was fresh off the deployment of an ATM backbone and Ethernet network at Roger Williams University. This gave him experience with, and a service history of, the LANNET network switches (LANNET is now part of Lucent Technologies) that were deployed at Women & Infants Hospital.

When we looked into other available switches for the upgrade, we seriously evaluated products from leading industry vendors, but because we had great service from the LANNET gear that had been in place for seven years, there was no compelling reason to change. In choosing Lucent's Cajun M770 Multifunction Switches and Cajun P110 Switching Systems, we had no worries about interoperability, management and learning new command syntax. This decision served us well because the transition went smoothly with virtually no interruption in service. The implementation has provided us with excellent stability and performance.


In designing the new network, Women & Infants took a strategic look at how to best meet current and future networking needs.

The network had to:
 * demonstrate the same reliability it had for the past seven years; * be
 flexible for future evolution and migration; * accommodate more nodes,
 bigger applications and additional medical services such as an intranet and
 IP multicast for future training.


Lucent's Cajun M770 Multifunction Switches and Cajun P110 Switching Systems. Two M770s anchor the network and will soon be linked by Gigabit Ethernet (1,000 Mbps), ATM or a hybrid backbone link. The devices, with a throughput of 80 Gbps, simultaneously support Ethernet and ATM modules anywhere in the chassis. This ATM and Gigabit combination will enable Women & Infants to share voice, video and data with the two other hospitals.

These switches are linked by Fast Ethernet to 27 wiring closets across the campus. These closets house the P110 Switching Systems 3/4 stackable 24-port units that deliver 10 Mbps per second and, in some configurations, 100Mbps Ethernet, to the desktops, printers and other endpoints.


Under $300,000.


The migration has been under way for the past year and is 95 percent complete.


This new high-performance network directly benefits staff and partners on some 2,000 endpoints and indirectly benefits all of out patients.


Savings: Sharing the ATM network with our partner hospitals will save us money by redirecting voice traffic through a single location to take advantage of our volume discount. In the future, ATM could even enable the hospital to run voice and data over the same network, eliminating the need for a separate voice network. The hospital will also improve performance by creating subnetworks and virtual local area networks (VLANs). This, combined with the Layer 3 switching already in place, will move traffic among subnets and VLANs without the need for slower, more expensive, software-based routers.

Productivity: With Lucent's enterprise data networking switches, we have seen increased network performance. Files move faster, images show up more quickly and services for medical staff and patients are available without delay. To date, we haven't had the network go down, and based on out experience with the product, we don't expect it to.

Circle 257 for more information
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Title Annotation:Product Information; Lucent's Cajun M770 Multifunction Switches and Cajun P110 Switching Systems
Publication:Health Management Technology
Date:May 1, 1999
Previous Article:Wireless Networks Allow Unprecedented Response Time.
Next Article:Data Warehouse: Decision Support Solution Reduces Patient Admissions, Saves Payor Millions.

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