The scale of hospitals has continued to expand in recent years, allowing them to provide medical services to growing numbers patients. In China, large new hospitals may have grounds occupying tens of acres, with comprehensive medical buildings covering several hundred thousand square meters and providing thousands of beds. In this environment, construction and/or transformation of a hospital's network platforms present significant challenges to IT management teams. Many hospital networks are now 7 or 8 years old, but things have changed since they were set up, in terms of both technology and medical needs. Seven or eight years ago, the main aims of hospital campus networks were provision of connectivity and a network interconnection platform for the HIS services. But over the past few years as the pace of medical reform has quickened, hospitals have sought to constantly improve their medical service facilities, making digitalization an important part of their normal operations and greatly increasing loads on hospital network platforms:
• Hospitals operate uninterrupted, 24x7 hours, and their networks must ensure service continuity, especially in peak morning hours.
• In general, hospitals have three physical networks: intranet (carrying all medical services systems), extranet (interconnected with the Internet), and emerging device network (IP-based smart low-current systems, including public broadcasting, access control, buildings control, and security video surveillance). Their network management must balance efficiency and security.
• Peak hospital hours present large loads, with business needs and network requirements varying greatly between departments. For example, outpatients/billings departments’ bandwidth requirements are low, but require high reliability; imaging centers’ requirements are for high bandwidth, real-time operation. These varying demands create pressures in terms of network resource scheduling flexibility.
• Hospital digitalization is becoming more outward-facing, with greater presentation of medical information to the public online. But traditional network isolation systems are inflexible, and struggle to cope with the security challenges that intranet-extranet convergence creates.
• Growing use of digital medical instruments, the increasing resolutions of imaging equipment, and their increasing ability to create video images, are all imposing increasing bandwidth demands on hospital networks.
• Existing resources and management efficiency levels in hospital data centers are becoming limiting factors in the expansion and launching of new medical services.
• Due to operational and patient medical data security requirements, hospitals need to construct data centers for disaster recovery.
Faced with these challenges, the problem of constructing hospital network platforms that support medical innovation, can provide automatic delivery of network resources, and are flexible enough to cope with management changes, in the most economical, flexible and rapid manner, is far from simple. But paradoxically, the large staff numbers drawn into hospital network construction and O&M can lead to decreased platform efficiency.
New H3C's New IT solution solves many of the challenges hospital networks face, including automated delivery, via virtualization, convergence, and automation.
Virtualization of network resources provides the basis for automatic network delivery, allowing network configuration to deliver network services alongside network resources, and permitting network delivery at fine levels of granularity. New H3C's network virtualization solution includes IRF horizontal virtualization and vertical virtualization, along with an MDC multi-tenant device environment. Widely suited to varying hospital network construction scenarios, its flexibility allows provision of both architecture-level and device-level virtualization.
IRF2 horizontal architecture-level virtualization – Scales up network performance while simplifying management
By virtualizing multiple devices into a "distributed device", IRF permits load balancing across these devices by means of its cooperative, unified management, traffic, and processing capabilities. Ideally deployed at the core and in converged HA nodes, IRF greatly improves the overall processing and forwarding capabilities of hospital networks, especially for large traffic volume services such as PACS.
IRF3 vertical architecture-level virtualization – Increases data center flexibility while simplifying management
Vertical device virtualization, with the addition of a further device acting as a remote interface, can expand I/O port capacity and enable centralized control and management, satisfying hospital data centers’ requirements for high-density access and simplified management. The access switches of servers in the hospital's data center can act as remote interfaces for core switching devices, and server management and access implemented based on core network devices’ powerful processing capability.
MDC multi-tenant device environment (device-level virtualization) – Integrating, but isolating multiple networks
Multi-tenant Device Context (MDC) technology permits the abstraction of network devices’ control, forwarding, and management planes away from physical hardware. By virtualizing individual hardware devices into multiple logical devices, each isolated from the other, resources and management are decoupled. Via deployment of the hospital’s intranet, extranet, and device networks on three separate logical MDC systems, they can be effectively isolated, becoming equivalent to three separate networks in terms of operations management, greatly improving device utilization and reducing the levels of hardware investment hospitals need to make for any given desired level of service.