With the F5 solution, Overlake now has technology that gives physicians and care givers reliable access to their most critical systems, increases the IT staff’s efficiency, and supports the hospital’s future plans for an “always available” application environment.
High availability for essential hospital applications
Since deploying F5, Overlake’s most critical applications, especially EpicCare and VMware Horizon View, are now stable and highly available. “It’s mindboggling how many systems, documents, and data sources it takes to run a modern EMR solution like EpicCare,” says Binner. He explains how patients’ electronic medical records must follow them from physician to specialist, to radiology, to various labs, to surgery—even the pharmacy. “F5 manages the traffic to all those systems now, and since we moved our virtual desktop infrastructure from Cisco to F5, we’ve seen very stable performance. Knowing I have that robust F5 backbone in place is what allows me to get some sleep at night.” He adds, “F5 helps us avoid system outages, which is critical for a hospital delivering patient care 24/7.”
Just as EpicCare and VMware Horizon View are crucial to patient care, Exchange Server is critical for day-to-day hospital operations. With F5 managing Exchange Server traffic, there is never any downtime, and the IT staff is able to upgrade email servers and perform routine maintenance during normal business hours. Binner says, “We would never have been able to do this with our previous solution.”
Ease of use and efficiency for small IT team
Binner appreciates the tools F5 provides that make his team’s job so much easier. These include iApps, a unique wizard-based configuration tool that speeds and simplifies application deployment, and iRules, a simple scripting language for controlling and managing application traffic through BIG-IP LTM.
“I have a small, lean IT team and I need to make sure they’re as efficient as possible and have tools that help support their work. F5 provides that with these tools,” says Binner. Specifically, the team used F5's iApps template to simplify the hospital’s migration to Exchange Server 2010. “That was painful on Cisco ACE, but it only took a few minutes using F5’s iApps template for Exchange Server.”
Control costs and protect investment
F5 helps Binner get the most out of its technology investment. “Being a not-for-profit hospital, I’ve got to spend my IT dollar wisely,” says Binner. “The flexibility and extensibility of F5’s unified platform proves to us that we didn’t purchase a one-off solution. F5 will continue to meet our needs, now and in the future.”
Support for future technology implementations
F5 is helping Binner realize his vision for an always-on infrastructure in which applications are available to users 24/7 from any device or location. To support this capability, Overlake is currently piloting BIG-IP Access Policy Manager (APM), F5’s access security solution, giving users unified global access to applications—and giving IT centralized control of access policies.
Binner particularly likes that BIG-IP APM supports security assertion markup language (SAML), an open-standard format for enabling single sign-on (SSO) capability across both internal and external applications. As Overlake begins to use more software as a service (SaaS) applications, SAML support will be important to have. “With BIG-IP APM, users will no longer have to remember multiple user names and passwords. Instead, they’ll use one set of credentials to access all the applications from any location or device.”