Global Healthcare Providers Adopting Cisco ACI to Improve Organizational Efficiency

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A new application era is changing healthcare. Doctors, nurses and administrators are increasingly using mobile devices, artificial intelligence tools and telehealth solutions to better serve patients and improve organizational efficiency.

These new tools and apps not only demand the highest security and performance, but the volume of data they generate put greater demands on data centers. Today’s data centers are no longer a fixed place – they need to extend everywhere data is.

“Applications are changing the way we live and work – and the way healthcare practitioners serve their patients,” said Barbara Casey, Director of Healthcare for Cisco. “Combining new apps with IoT based devices, and the volume of sensitive data generated from this activity can be quite significant. As a result of this literal data explosion, we’re seeing greater momentum with global healthcare customers who are looking to secure, modernize and simplify their data center operations.”

Healthcare organizations such as Grifols, University of Utah, the Hospitaller Order of Saint John of God, and Sharp Healthcare have adopted Cisco’s intent-based data center solution, Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI).

Cisco ACI provides unified control of both physical and virtual environments, enhanced security, and policy-based automation that extends to the cloud. Cisco Tetration provides workload security with a zero-trust model for both on-premise and public cloud workloads.

Grifols

Grifols, a global healthcare company, works in the fields of transfusion, blood banking, protein therapeutics, and laboratory analysis, with product distribution in 90 countries to hospitals, pharmacies, and healthcare professionals. The Grifols IT team decided that maintaining their existing systems and bringing new services online took too long. They wanted to be faster, more agile, more scalable and increase security.

Grifols chose Cisco ACI as the networking foundation for its new data center in Sant Cugat, Spain, and the unifying network architecture to connect all four of its data centers so that they could standardize on network configuration, policy, and security.

“Configuring physical and logical components manually takes time and can introduce errors,” said David Martinez IT communications manager, Grifols. “With Cisco ACI, we can define groups, interfaces, and policies once, and then push them everywhere from a central console.”

University of Utah

With four hospitals and 10 community clinics, University of Utah Health is the region’s only academic health care system. The IT team decided to replace its aging IT infrastructure with a complete data center refresh and chose Cisco ACI for its new network to simplify and automate operations, accelerate application deployment, and increase security. “ACI gives us the flexibility to place workloads wherever it makes sense—not just once, but any time,” said Jim Livingston, CTO, University of Utah Health. “And the automation it enables frees us to pursue entirely new possibilities, like artificial intelligence and machine learning.”

The university also deployed the Cisco Tetration platform to gain visibility of application connectivity, dependencies, and data flows across their hybrid IT environment. “Epic is the application that supports all our health records and medical operations, and it’s so big and complex that it’s difficult to keep track of all the pieces, how each of them function, and what else can be affected if one of the pieces goes down,” said Livingston. “Before deploying Tetration we simply didn’t have that type of insight before,” With a better understanding of application behavior and dependencies, the university can create detailed policies and templates in Cisco ACI that ensure each application is protected and supported.

The University is also deploying Cisco ACI Multi-Site capability to link its primary data center in Salt Lake City with its disaster recovery site in St. George, Utah, to improve redundancy and availability. For an application like Epic, disaster recovery failover can be reduced by several hours using ACI Multi-Site.

Hospitaller Order of Saint John of God, Barmherzige Brueder, Austria and Bavaria.

The Hospitaller Order of Saint John of God operates hospitals, retirement homes and facilities for people with special needs, worldwide. In Austria, data center performance was impacted due to several firewalls that regulated traffic and slowed performance. The IT team adopted Cisco ACI to improve both performance and security.

“With ACI, we can do updates without downtime, so medical and care staff do not feel any impact when we update our infrastructure,” said Prof. Dr. Michael Georg Grasser, Chief Information Officer at Barmherzige Brueder. “On the security side, each of our facilities constantly manages highly sensitive data, including patient files and other personal information. By implementing micro-segmentation with ACI, we’ve ensured that only those who need access to data are the ones who receive it.”

Sharp HealthCare

Located in San Diego, California, Sharp HealthCare is a not-for-profit, integrated regional healthcare delivery system with four acute care hospitals, three specialty hospitals, three affiliated medical groups, and numerous outpatient facilities and programs. The Sharp IT team wanted to modernize IT operations while maintaining support for legacy applications. “Instead of rebuilding our data center or attempting to force-fit our legacy applications in the cloud, we decided to put everything in a colocation facility and manage it remotely with a software-defined network,” said Kevin Rothstein, network engineer at Sharp HealthCare.

To anchor its new colocation data center, Sharp HealthCare chose the combination of Cisco ACI and Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS). “With other SDN solutions, you have to mix and match the underlay and overlay,” Rothstein says. “But Cisco ACI is a complete package—a full fabric that brings together physical and virtual systems.”

The new infrastructure has dramatically increased security while reducing the time and effort of systems maintenance. Now, Sharp IT remotely manages everything centrally with policies and endpoint groups.

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