Advocate Health Care Cures Trauma of Network Performance


Story Highlights
  • Advocate Health Care is largest system in Illinois
  • Infrastructure supports voice, data, video & imaging
  • Preparing for the cloud
  • Cisco solutions lacked necessary scalability

Advocate Health Care consolidates data centers with pod and mesh architecture to reduce costs, increase bandwidth, offer flexible network services and faster application deployment.

Advocate Health Care, after careful evaluation of their existing IT infrastructure and the growing demands that voice, video, data and imaging continue to place on their network systems, has decided to replace their Cisco Catalyst core with an Alcatel-Lucent Application Fluent Network solution. Alcatel-Lucent was selected because of their willingness to work with Advocate Health Care and because of the solution's architecture, mobility vision, and cloud service integration.

Gary Horn, vice president of technical services and CTO in Advocate's Information Systems department, recently explained to Jim Duffy of Network World, "We're consolidating data centers to drive costs down, but it creates network challenges." Horn identified the challenges of increasing bandwidth, storage and CPU cycle needs and the requirement for more flexible network services.

Advocate Health Care's challenges are not unique. These issues form the basis of technology executive conversations all over the world. They are a leader in analyzing and evaluating IT options to provide their patients, staff and administrators a world-class network.

Alcatel-Lucent is able to provide Advocate Health Care and others a solution that consolidates their network facilities and centralizes management, simplifying operations and lowering costs. Alcatel-Lucent solutions virtualize IT operations, reducing costs by lowering power consumption, increasing network availability and uptime, while making the network more flexible. With these improvements, Advocate Health Care is able to speed application deployment.

According to Jean-Luc Ronarch, Director of Product Management, Networks Solutions, Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise, "The design and methodology of our data center fabric is based on a pod and mesh architecture. The pods are 10GigE meshes created with our OmniSwitch 6900 switches that offer 2 microsecond latency. Our mesh supports many advanced protocols including IEEE's Shortest Path Bridging (SPB) and Ethernet Virtual Bridging for a lossless Ethernet fabric. SPB replaces Spanning Tree protocol in the fabric."

Advocate Health Care will connect four pods to two OmniSwitch 10Ks in the core over 40GigE links. This particular mesh design can support 14,000 server ports and up to 169Tbps across 10 48-unit racks with a latency of 5 microseconds.

Eventually Advocate Health Care plans to scale their core to 40GigE and possibly 100GigE using the same OmniSwitch 10Ks.

About Advocate Health Care

Advocate Health Care is the largest healthcare system in the state of Illinois and offers the largest emergency and Level 1 trauma network in the state. It has more than 250 sites of care including 10 acute-care hospitals, and two children's hospitals. With over 37,000 people employed at Advocate Health Care at the various facilities, a large, complex voice, data, and computing infrastructure exists.

When Advocate Health Care decided to expand their search beyond their current data infrastructure supplier, they looked to Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise, along trusted supplier of voice solutions for the past 10 years. In fact, Advocate Health Care will soon be expanding their Alcatel-Lucent communications solution with the deployment of the new Alcatel-Lucent OmniTouch IP telephony solution.

Advocate Health Care looked beyond Cisco when their existing solution lacked scalability and standardized service delivery. They wanted to move away from solutions based on proprietary protocols because they were keeping them from expanding beyond one geographical site and being able to deploy new technologies. Plus, Advocate Health Care had to refresh the hardware once a year because of the lack of scalability and latency issues. In such a large organization that becomes very expensive.

The deficiencies in their network became readily apparent when they tried to virtualize their network. Advocate Health Care wanted to simplify their data center operation by managing multiple switches as a single network element, but their switching couldn't work reliably that way. That's when Advocate Health Care turned to Alcatel-Lucent and found what they were looking for.
Read the interview of Gary Horn of Advocate Health Care, by Jim Duffy of Network World.

For the technical details on Alcatel-Lucent's $40 million win over Cisco: