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Carrier Networking Optical Networking
5 minute read

Healthcare Campus Connectivity: Buying a Service vs. Building Your Own

Healthcare is driving change at a pace never experienced before. This evolution is creating more data and the need to share this data in new ways.

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More organizations are finding the need to connect to one or more cloud-based services while still maintaining support for legacy data centers. Mergers, acquisitions, patient-focused applications and telemedicine are just a few of the pressures placed on the circuits needed to transport data within the healthcare industry.

Many networks are built using standard services contracted and delivered by reputable service providers. This results in networks designed to leverage whatever services a service provider has decided to offer and locks you into a term based on the contract initially negotiated. Customers who choose to build their own network may realize many benefits ranging from cost savings, improved flexibility and control over the services needed to connect the remote locations.

Cost should always be a top consideration when designing the network; however, this should not be limited to the cost of circuits. It needs to include the operational expenses, hardware required to terminate the circuits and even the business impact of not having the appropriate circuits to support the business.

Traditionally, medical campuses were connected by procuring broadband services from a local service provider who offered a menu of various capacities. Then an appropriately sized router is deployed to terminate these circuits, optimizing their utilization. This connection established a demarcation point between the private network and carrier-delivered services. Now, more and more healthcare CTOs are looking to insource by building and managing their own private network.

Building it yourself provides multiple benefits, including cost reduction, flexibility and scale, control, security, and accountability.

Cost reduction 

Service provider prices are based on their expenses to deploy and maintain a system. This fixed monthly price makes it easy to budget if the network stays relatively static. Private networks realize savings by leveraging lower operational costs, eliminating the need to operate as a profit center and maximizing the return on capital expenses.  

Flexibility and scale 

Telehealth networks are leveraging more cloud-hosted applications. This evolution is ongoing and continually shifting traffic patterns. No longer are we connected to just the traditional data centers. Many of these applications are developed to operate entirely in the cloud reducing if not eliminating the need to pass much of the traffic through the data center. It is important to build a network that can adapt to these changes rather than be locked into circuits designed for legacy applications.

For example, routed networks today have advanced to the level that many of the optical transport roles can be delivered within the router. Building your own transport allows for quick adoption of a new architecture that can provide for a simpler solution with fewer points of failure.

Control 

Moves, adds and changes to the topology can be done in a private network without the need to coordinate the activity between a service provider and the organization. This allows for better prioritization as well as significantly reducing the time to implement.

Security 

Security today is more than just encrypting the endpoints. At the transport layer, it is important to manage the number of physical touchpoints that an intruder may be able to insert themselves and gain unauthorized access to sensitive information. Private networks are under the physical control of the private organization. The fiber can be proactively monitored for any tampering to maintain the integrity of the system. When a network is built under the control of a private customer, it becomes much more difficult to gain this access without being detected.

Accountability 

Service providers may offer Service Level Agreements (SLA) based on their ability to deliver a contracted service. These may not always align with the needs of a private enterprise's operation. Private networks should be designed for business. In the event of a failure, private network operators can prioritize restorations and may even be able to make temporary accommodations to support the applications while the outage is addressed.

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Why optical?

Optical transport technologies are the foundation for delivering broadband services. They provide connectivity for remote campuses regardless of whether they reside within the metropolitan area or are hundreds of miles apart. They also offer the ability to simultaneously transport multiple signals over the same fiber resulting in significant cost savings. Current technologies offer the ability to transport tens of terabits over a single fiber pair with the ability to spread the cost out by only paying for what you need.

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To build or to buy?

Service providers have a lot of experience working with these technologies and offer relatively reliable services at a variety of speeds; however, by privatizing the Transport Network, companies can realize the numerous benefits mentioned above.

The key to deciding whether to buy your transport or whether to build your own is really based on the needs of an organization. Fear of unknown technologies can be easily overcome by partnering with experienced solution providers like WWT. Contact your WWT account team to learn more about what is right for your organization.