Providing managed services for more than 400 clients worldwide—primarily large hospital systems—Cerner needed to minimize the risk of downtime and ensure that a potential outage for one client would not affect all clients. Using a completely virtualized traffic management solution from F5, Cerner is able to segment risk on a per-client, per-tenant basis and streamline operations for faster deployments and more efficient use of resources.
Cerner orporation is a leading provider of healthcare information technology for hospitals and medical facilities around the world. The company helps organizations improve the quality of care with its broad range of clinical and financial solutions and services, including its flagship Millennium application suite.
While some clients choose to run the Millennium suite on site in their own data centers, more than 400 hospital systems have taken advantage of Cerner’s growing managed services offering. Cerner, which hosts the complete Millenniumenvironment in its world-class data centers, customizes, scales, maintains, and supports unique implementations for each of these clients, whose users access the solution over secure connections via Citrix XenApp.
Because of the mission-critical nature of the services it provides, Cerner needed to ensure its systems were always highly available. The company had been using pairs of Cisco ACE load balancers to improve availability across systems that served multiple clients. When Cisco announced its intention to discontinue the ACE load balancers, Cerner realized it would need a replacement solution.
In addition, as the volume of its managed services increased, Cerner’s networking team recognized that a hardware failure, software bug, or even a change in one client’s configuration could potentially have an impact on many clients and, thus, on Cerner’s ability to meet its service level agreements (SLAs).
“There is always some risk of human error with maintenance and provisioning activities,” explained Brett Jones, Director, Infrastructure Architecture Technology at Cerner. “We wanted to find a solution that would reduce the risk down to the individual hospital system level as opposed to something broader in scope.”
In addition to minimizing risk of downtime, the Technology Services team wanted to improve efficiency and reduce the amount of time and resources needed to manage the infrastructure. Each of Cerner’s clients has unique requirements, and configuring changes and updates to meet these needs required considerable manual intervention on the part of Cerner’s network engineers.