CoxHealth finds relief in a network overhaul that pushes Layer 3 to the edge

Sprawling health care system has an unusual mix of Brocade for wireline, Cisco for wireless; runs its own MPLS net

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The network at CoxHealth, a healthcare organization in Springfield, Missouri, with five hospitals, 83 clinics and 10,000 employees, was running out of gas just as new demands were ratcheting up, so senior manager for IT Dan Brewer started to rethink everything. Here’s the story he shared with Network World Editor in Chief John Dix.

Dan Brewer, CoxHealth

Dan Brewer, Senior Manager for IT, CoxHealth 

Can you describe the environment and the problem you were having that encouraged you to drive some change?

I started here in 2006 and we had a single Cisco 6509 core and mostly Dell switches on the edge, but some Cisco pieces sprinkled in -- including about 600 autonomous Cisco wireless access points -- and everything was a flat Layer 2 network. With the different types of equipment, not everything worked well together and we had pretty pervasive broadcast storms.

By 2008 we were in huge growth mode and the network was running out of gas, but we were budget challenged so we were just growing organically. As something broke, we would buy a new piece. But in 2010-2011 we started getting budget to do more because we were implementing Electronic Health Records (EHRs) and Computer Physician Order Entry (CPOE), and wireless traffic was increasing.

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