What’s the most important thing about plumbing? That it works, all the time. It’s pretty nightmarish to wake up in a house with a broken shower and toilet. A far more terrifying situation however, is waking up as a patient in a hospital where your life is compromised because the network went down.
People often compare network infrastructure to plumbing, and I can see why. They both have terrestrial components, both are integral to today’s society, and downtime for either simply isn’t an option we want to consider. However, if you do wake up to a dysfunctional shower, you call a local repair company. It’s a pain (and likely a bad hair day) but it’s not the end of the world. If your network ‘plumbing’ goes down in a healthcare setting it can be the end of the world for some, lives are literally on the line. That is why network design and BCDR solutions are so mission critical to healthcare providers. Let’s review three key actions organizations need to consider in order to ensure a more trustworthy network.
1. The SPOF (single point of failure) disease is more common than you think.
If you rely on your network for mission critical applications, you have to have a truly diverse primary and redundant network. This requires that your network paths are as diverse as possible, from entry points, to metro and long haul routes and data center access. Set up a meeting with your network partners and review the network maps with a fine tooth comb so that you are 100% confident that there are no single points of failure. And remember, carrier diversity does not necessarily equate to route diversity.
2. Wouldn’t settle for low water pressure? Don’t settle for a slow network.
Network design has a massive effect on latency and the speed to which health professionals have access to the data they need. Actively monitor your latency and work with hospital staff to better understand what applications require the lowest latency. Work with your network partner to understand where and how improvements can be made to lower latency through WAN route design, burstable bandwidth solutions and/or connectivity types.
3. What’s your plan B, C and D? Develop a Thorough BCDR Plan.
Put on your doomsday hat and prepare for the worst. Accidents happen; there is always a chance that your back-up plan could fail. Make sure you have protocols in place for when you have to switch to plan C or D. A thorough BCDR plan is a lot of work but it is critical for your organization. And that darn Murphy ’s Law tends to get in the way if you don’t plan for these things.
Ensuring the health of your organizations’ network is critical. Many of the 2012 priorities recently listed by Healthcare IT News rely on the foundation of a resilient and trustworthy WAN. Data growth is exponential, applications continue to mount and adoption of cloud and virtualization are strong but all of these trends rely on the foundation of a strong, scalable and flexible WAN solution. Network architecture may be called plumbing but at the end of the day, like your own bathroom, you want to take measures to ensure it works all the time.