A Collaborative Project to Increase Network Availability and Improve Healthcare
Time is always of the essence, but for essential fields like healthcare and medicine, speed can be the difference between life and death. When information isn’t delivered in a timely manner, it can directly and adversely affect a patient’s health and well-being. At clinical reference laboratories, speed is critical to all of our decisions—including those related to our network.
Our clinical reference laboratory specializes in testing services for kidney disease. We work closely with dialysis clinics to provide industry-leading service, comprehensive testing, and innovative tools. We have been innovating and growing for more than 20 years, and can anticipate our customers’ needs to provide optimal patient care.
I joined the company in October 2018 as Senior System Engineer. My role encompasses all of IT, but my primarily focus is on networking, security, and storage. I work on a team of four people, and with such a small team in a medium-sized company, efficiency is always top of mind. Our old network, however, was anything but efficient.
Finding the Source of the Problem
When I started here, we used an SD-WAN solution that lacked high availability, and there was always a potential for unplanned downtime to repair any problem. With little visibility into the network, we had no means of reviewing the network’s performance to determine if it was working properly.
If a node went down, it took a lot of time to troubleshoot the issue and identify where the problem was located before we could even begin to resolve it. We couldn't tell you if voice traffic (VoIP) was flowing properly, or if data was transferring at the acceptable rates. We also didn't have WAN optimization. With each outage preventing the transfer of data between systems, we were unable to send that data in a timely manner.
The problem was further compounded because our VoIP phone system had call quality issues as well. At any moment, a user might pick up their phone, only to find it not working properly. It was unpredictable and frustrating.
As we got increasingly busier and the amount of traffic on the network increased, our network issues became more critical. If this new pace was going to become the norm, we’d have to implement a more reliable network that we could monitor more effectively.
A Solid Solution
When we started to look for a solution, one of the first companies that came to my mind was OneNeck. I had previously purchased networking gear from them, so I knew exactly what kind of service to expect. I gave them the details about our problems and what I thought we needed to ensure we could optimize our network. The OneNeck team took those parameters and narrowed down our options.
We considered a couple of alternative SD-WAN solutions, including one from a large, well-known vendor. Their SD-WAN solution looked great, but it was designed for larger companies. It was far too much for what we needed. The Silver Peak SD-WAN emerged as the best fit based on our current requirements.
Primarily, Silver Peak’s SD-WAN solution offered WAN acceleration, a type of optimization that remediates network congestion and latency by implementing bandwidth preservation techniques such as compression, caching, data deduplication, and image optimization. This leads to faster transfer rates. It also provided us a deep insight into our network, and it offered us the ability to resolve an issue with our voice communications.
It would not only address our current challenges, but it was much more cost efficient as well.
A Remarkably Smooth Deployment
We had a tight deadline for deployment due to an upcoming hosted voice project, so everyone moved into high gear quickly. Once we signed the agreement near the end of 2020, OneNeck immediately mapped out the entire process and moved to deploy in a testing environment.
We started deployment at our primary location and we stood up the devices to conduct the initial test. Once they went smoothly, we rolled it out to one of our other locations to test the links, the data transfers, and the voice component to determine how everything flowed. We used secondary circuits to ensure we didn’t affect production. This allowed us to test everything before completely migrating the network.
The failover process was nearly imperceptible during testing, which was absolutely essential to ensure that we no longer had to contend with downtime. We also made sure we could safely reroute sample traffic to ensure it wasn’t dropped. This way, we would know what to expect when we went live.
Full deployment only took about three weeks from start to finish. The quick turnaround proved to be more than enough time to build our confidence in the new network. When we were satisfied that the data was flowing properly and that the switch could be done without negatively affecting production, we were ready to move forward with rolling out the network to manage live data.
Remote, Trustworthy Support
A remarkable aspect of this rollout was that, due to the pandemic, OneNeck completed everything remotely. OneNeck did a majority of configuration required for the new network; I would estimate that they were responsible for completing 70–75% of the configuration. Our IT team did all of the physical cabling and setting up hardware in specific locations, and OneNeck’s deployment team offered full support from their remote location.
I worked closely with OneNeck Network Engineer Bob Miszuk throughout the entire process. He went above and beyond for our team, answering all of our questions quickly and ensuring potential problems were addressed before they arose. His assistance was outstanding, and I don’t think that our rollout would have been nearly so smooth if he hadn’t been there to support us. Bob and the rest of the OneNeck team exceeded my expectations. I’ve built long-lasting relationships with the OneNeck team, and my other colleagues feel the same way. That’s an important quality in a technology partner, especially for a small team.
I already knew OneNeck engineers were incredibly adept at their jobs and knowledgeable about their products. It was this trust that had made the decision to use them so easy, and this experience was a reminder of their exceptional support and why I value their opinions. I haven’t found any other company that offers the same level of expertise and customer support as OneNeck.
A New and Improved Network
Our network is now about 20% faster, a success that I partly attribute to now segmenting voice and data traffic. Now, when we have issues, we can quickly pinpoint where they are. It saves a lot of time in the long run because we can find the problem much faster, ensuring that we can quickly and reliably get test results to independent dialysis facilities and medium-to-large dialysis clinics.
In addition to a solution that best fits our medium-sized business, we’ve saved a considerable amount of money because OneNeck’s prices were competitive and fair. All around, we’ve gotten great value out of OneNeck's professional services. We completed a complex networking project in less than a month without having to take the system down.
OneNeck's deep knowledge and range of products is invaluable to companies the size of ours. Our day-to-day work relies on our invisible network for critical data transfers. OneNeck assisted us in making our network stronger, more reliable, and more efficient than ever.