Cisco Catalyst 6500 Series Switches

Healthcare System Secures Enhanced Network Communications Case Study

  • Viewing Options

  • PDF (350.4 KB)
  • Feedback

Orlando Health promotes secure communications between medical personnel with guest and physician networks supporting BYOD built on Cisco networks

Business Challenge

For generations, many families and communities around Orlando, Florida have turned to Orlando Health for comprehensive health care. Since the first hospital in the system opened in 1918, Orlando Health has grown to 9 hospitals and 50 associated medical practices serving nearly 2 million residents annually. Whether in need of emergency surgery, long-term care, or simply a regular checkup, this experienced health system can meet the medical needs of almost every patient. And as the home to numerous teaching hospitals, Orlando Health also helps train the next generation of medical personnel.

As part of the goal of delivering a patient-first culture, medical practitioners, staff, and administrators at Orlando Health took a close look at how to improve services. The result was 29 strategic projects designed to provide the best healthcare possible. After taking a closer look at the projects, the chief technology officer, Brian Comp and his team, realized that the objectives and goals could not be accomplished with the current technological infrastructure.

To provide patients with faster, more accurate healthcare services, physicians needed a highly collaborative environment that would integrate various systems and enable medical personnel to quickly and securely share necessary medical information. “Much of our infrastructure to our desktop PC’stopped out at 10 Megabits,” says Comp. “We knew that to enable physicians and other clinicians to move large data sets over a secure and speedy network, we would need to take our networks to the next level with up to 10 Gigabit Ethernet in their core.”

As more patients, visitors, and healthcare workers demanded wireless access to communicate and entertain during hospital visits, bring-your-own-device (BYOD) network compliance becomes increasingly important. Healthcare workers needed a secure, stable network that prioritizes official medical business and keeps it safe from guest access.

Network Solution

To accomplish its strategic goals, the Orlando Health teamupgraded its network using Cisco Catalyst and Nexus solutions together to achieve incredible performance. Originally using Cisco Catalyst 6509 Switches in its data center, the system upgraded to Cisco Nexus 5000 and Nexus 7000 Series Switches in the data center, while moving redundant pairs of Catalyst 6509 Switches to hospitals to form the campus backbone. This configuration optimizes switching performance by putting the best-suited switches to work in every area of the network.

By using the Catalyst 6509 Switches as the core of the campus network, Orlando Health gains better control over networks open to user - and therefore vulnerabilities. Implemented in pairs for maximum redundancy and rapid failover, the Catalyst 6509 Switches help keep the local networks running over 1 Gigabit Ethernet. Cisco Catalyst 3750-X Switches act as a productive access layer with support for data, wireless, and voice. In particular, support for up to 48 Power over Ethernet (PoE) connections adds flexibility to the campus environment with the potential to effortlessly add wireless and voice equipment with minimal wiring.

While the Catalyst switches excel in the campus environment, the Nexus 5000 and 7000 Switches provide superior performance in the data centers. With support for virtualization and fabric scalability, the Nexus switches play a critical role in connecting with virtualized Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) Blade Servers. High-density 10 Gigabit Ethernet connections help deliver even the largest data sets, while the Nexus 5000 Series Switches enable flexible connectivity to both LAN and SAN infrastructures with Unified Ports that support Ethernet, Fibre Channel, and Fibre Channel over Ethernet.

Replacing the VMware servers in the data centers, the Cisco UCS Blade Servers help consolidate the data center with a greater port density and virtualization for a streamlined environment. In addition to the reduced costs and power consumption of individual UCS Blade Servers, virtualizing the servers leads to even greater cost savings by enabling Orlando Health to maximize capacity while reducing the physical hardware.

The strong network foundation enables Orlando Health to build a robust wireless network using Cisco Aironet 2600 Series Access Points controlled by Cisco 5508 Wireless Controllers. Self-healing CleanAir technology proactively identifies and combats interference for robust performance and reduced management load, while PoE connections from the Catalyst 3750-X Switches help further streamline the wireless network. Cisco Identity Services Engine (ISE) completes the BYOD environment through role-based access that separates guests from physicians who need enhanced security.

Business Results

Bringing BYOD access to secure networks

Just a few years ago, few people brought wireless devices to hospitals. Now, many patients, families, and employees are bringing personal mobile devices like laptops, tablets, and smartphones. Whether used to communicate with friends and family or entertain themselves during long hospital visits, BYOD is becoming an essential part of patient and visitor support.

At the same time, tablets are becoming essential tools for physicians to easily access electronic medical records, order tests, and enter notes from anywhere within the Orlando Health system. But since many physicians want to choose their own work tablet, Orlando Health found that it also needed a medical-grade BYOD network with higher performance and security.

With 5,000 users - and growing - on the guest network every day, Orlando Health knew that it needed to use the added switching performance would need to bolster capacity while securing networks. The answer for Orlando Health was to use the Catalyst switches in the campus to differentiate between two separate networks: the Guest Access Network (GAN) and Personal Access Network (PAN). The networks may use the same infrastructure, but they are logically segmented to provide added security, higher bandwidth, and priority access to physicians, clinicians, and key interanal stakeholders who need to do Orlando Health business on a personally owned device.

“By creating separate networks for guests and physicians, we can improve access for everyone while keeping visitors off of internal networks,” says Comp. “Cisco Catalyst Switches help us segment traffic without increasing the load on our IT team, making them a key part of securing our integrated medical systems.”

Streamlining management and consolidating the data center

The streamlined Cisco network and data center environment greatly reduce costs for Orlando Health by reducing the load on the IT team, enabling the lean IT team to cover a more expansive network without needing extra staff. Profiles accelerate deployment of servers and switches, both physical and virtual, while the Cisco management tools provide visibility into the network for faster resolution of network issues.

Strong use of virtualization in the data center has also kept costs low. The Cisco UCS Blade Servers are almost entirely virtualized, creating a flexible cloud in the data center. When Orlando Health needs more capacity, it can add a virtual server rather than buy a physical one. By switching to virtualized servers, Orlando Health reduced rack space 61%, fitting over 320 virtual servers in only one-third of a rack. With less need for physical hardware, Orlando Health has saved over $100,000 in unneeded equipment purchases.

“Reducing the need for physical equipment in our data centers has reduced costs tremendously - we cut costs over $100,000 just through eliminating equipment,” says Comp. “By consolidating the data center with virtualized Cisco UCS Blade Servers, we have also realized considerable power savings, adding up to over $125,000 per year.” With a strong virtualized network in place, Orlando Health is looking at further reducing the cost of purchasing and maintaining desktop equipment through use of virtual desktop infrastructure.

Establishing support for future services

In the near future, as the healthcare industry continues working to keep costs down, Comp sees the healthcare industry moving towards more external services and operations. “Our network will eventually become a large, switched network connecting services from all over to converge at our data centers. As a result, our switching infrastructure will become more important than ever,” says Comp. “With their excellent security, flexibility, and high performance, Cisco switches are providing us a next-generation solution that will continue to support our network for years to come.”

For More Information

To find out more about Cisco Switching, go to: