Designing a Fault Tolerant Network

Paragon’s recent growth placed significant strain on its legacy network. Paragon understood to continue offering a superior service to their patients their network would need revitalized. Paragon’s top concern was providing care to its patients despite network failures. Already disappointed by two network consultants, Paragon turned to ITA to make their vision a reality.

200%

Increased Network Reliability

$68,900

Saved In Hardware Purchases

52

Network Devices Replaced

About Our Client

As a market-leading specialty infusion provider, Paragon Healthcare, Inc. is a diversified services organization. Paragon Healthcare has served as a patient advocate offering unmatched service for more than a decade.

Paragon Healthcare primarily focuses on infusible and injectable pharmacy services in the alternate-site setting where they offer comprehensive, streamlined solutions to patient care as well as to insurers and health care providers. Whether patients need their specialty infusion therapy at home, in a physician office or in one of Paragon’s local infusion centers, Paragon offers an option for every patient’s needs.

Network Availability Shouldn't Impact Caring for Patients

Paragon’s network closely resembled the work of Dr. Frankenstein. Unfortunately, this is a common scenario for many companies who experience rapid growth. Equipment varies in vendor, brand, and model, which is stitched together piece by piece as the company grows. Complicating matters further, Paragon’s legacy firewalls were end of life and no longer supported by the manufacture. Consequently, these firewalls lacked modern features such as data encryption. Without the ability to encrypt data, Paragon could not utilize an Internet connection as a backup connection per HIPPA regulations.

Paragon’s commitment to customer service and protection of their customers’ privacy demands a resilient network, capable of tolerating several outages, while still complying with HIPPA regulations. Failed attempts by two other network consultants left Paragon only frustrated and further behind schedule. Paragon looked to ITA to pick-up where the other consultants failed.

ITA Picks Up The Pieces

ITA quickly compiled Paragon’s list of business requirements to begin vetting hardware vendors. Thorough research led to only one candidate, Cisco,  industry leader for 13 different markets. ITA chose Cisco’s ASA firewalls and Catalyst switches to serve as Paragon’s network backbone.

8,598


Lines of Code

1,360


Man Hours

After hardware was approved, ITA began re-designing the network from the ground up. An external routing protocol, BGP, was implemented to allow multiple Internet connections to serve as a backup path to Paragon’s data centers. Should disaster strike, an IPSec tunnel encrypts and reroutes the traffic on-demand. Lastly, designing a network that could heal itself in the event of an outage requires the network to possess a level of intelligence. ITA designed numerous triggers to detect failures and conditions to give the network guidance as it reroutes traffic around a failure. Likewise, these same rules and conditions allow the network to revert any changes when a failure is repaired.

The Results

Breathing new life into Paragon’s network was undoubtedly a significant undertaking, requiring a little over a year to complete. During that time, every piece of legacy equipment was removed from all 25 locations, which are spread across the nation. Cisco’s hardware successfully satisfied every business requirement and then some by providing additional solutions such as URL web filtering and intrusion detection. Productivity remains uninterrupted in the event of multiple network failures by rerouting traffic over the dual or tertiary Internet connections installed at every location. Most importantly (to the CFO at least), ITA negotiated one of the lowest prices ever offered by a Cisco distributor, saving Paragon well over $68,900.

Lastly, it was important to ITA to ensure the final design did not require Paragon to hire a dedicated network engineer to maintain the solution. This was accomplished by intentionally designing a network that could learn and adapt to its environment. Specifically, this means as Paragon continues to rapidly add new offices, no configuration will be necessary on existing equipment. Likewise, ITA created configuration templates to enable help desk personnel to install a firewall in a new office by simply filling in a few blanks. Finally, ITA assisted in the deployment of sophisticated network monitoring to provide intelligent alerts, self-healing capabilities, and automated configuration backups of every device. Paragon now enjoys a bleeding-edge, low maintenance, and highly resilient network, which will easily support their business over the next decade.