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SD-WAN – MPLS Mesh Network Gives Medical Practice Resilient, Secure Telecom

Phones are critical for a doctor’s office. Their business relies on patients calling to schedule appointments and clinicians being able to call patients about medications or lab results, for example. Without a highly available telephone system, such as the SD-WAN – MPLS mesh network featured here, the office cannot function optimally.

For a multi-location physician practice in the Pacific Northwest with an MPLS design, several unplanned outages, concerns over missed SLAs and issues with uptime signified that it was time for an upgrade. With more than a dozen offices and roughly 1,600 endpoints, this was no small task.

MicroAge solutions expert JP Patchett and Telecom Practice Manager Phil Tuckwiller partnered with the client’s IT operations manager and director of IT to develop a strategy that would address the company’s telecom challenges.

“The IT leaders were tired of having to explain to the physicians why the phones were down,” JP says.

A Better Approach to Networking

At the beginning of the process, JP and Phil engaged in a discovery process, including whiteboard sessions, to understand the architecture of the client’s current MPLS and to strategize a new approach to the network.

“The outages they were experiencing meant a loss of revenue … This network serves mission-critical functions, and downtime is a detriment,” Phil says. “Our focus is on helping clients with business continuity and really, a better approach to network services.”

Phil and JP saw an opportunity to dramatically change the client’s network.

“It’s also worth noting that with an MPLS, you have to be within a single carrier,” he adds. “And when the costs go up, there’s no recourse to negotiate pricing.”

This led Phil to introducing SD-WAN into the equation. For some companies, it might make sense for an SD-WAN solution to replace an MPLS system, but in this case, Phil and JP advised using SD-WAN to augment the private network rather than replacing the MPLS.

“SD-WAN is changing the way the industry is approaching these networks,” he adds. “We recommended a hybrid SD-WAN – MPLS mesh network architecture, resulting in two completely engaged networks so there would not be a single point of failure.

The SD-WAN – MPLS Mesh Network

As the client’s various telecom provider contracts came up for renewal over the course of many months, MicroAge worked to implement a new layer 2 private network.

“Our client was looking for a way to provide a highly available and reliable network solution,” Phil notes. “To provide resiliency and security as well, we delivered a private network with diverse internet connections out of the building managed by an SD-WAN solution from Ecessa.”

The private network is provided by Zayo, and the diverse internet connection is provided by Comcast.

It’s a mesh network, enabling all the sites to talk to one another. If the internet goes down at a site, each location has a second connection managed by the SD-WAN device offering redundancy and resiliency.

“It’s actually a redundant and resilient network — providing a private network and a public network managed by the SD-WAN appliance, which aggregates the public and private connections, load balancing both connections. It also gives you intelligent routing based on applications. Basically, it virtualizes the network.”

Every clinic location, the data center and back-up location all have an SD-WAN appliance with two diverse connections going into the box. “That’s important because that’s the only way to have true resiliency,” Phil adds.

The Results of Adding SD-WAN

With telecom’s inherent complexity, the client found value in MicroAge’s support in implementing this solution — overseeing fiber circuit installations, managing the project and acting as a liaison between multiple vendors.

“Voice is sensitive to latency, so you have to have a well-built network to deliver enterprise-level voice,” Phil notes. “Part of the reason the network was built was to deliver voice as a mission-critical application.”

And with this solution, JP notes, the client has future-proofed their infrastructure and resolved their issues for future cloud deployments.

“They’re very happy,” JP says. “There have been no outages, and they’re getting a 400 percent increase in bandwidth for a small monthly increase—it’s a huge value. The IT director can sleep at night.”

If you need a highly available network, like this SD-WAN – MPLS mesh network, MicroAge can do it. To get started, contact JP Patchett at 480-366-2134 or jp@microage.com.

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JP Patchett
16 Years Experience
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