Case Study - Ascend Clinical

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Ascend Clinical moved from MPLS to a Software Defined WAN architecture to add reliability and call quality to their phone systems, as well as significantly reduce their operating expenditures

Industry

Health / Medical Industry

Challenge

MPLS network was too expensive and created a single point of failure

Solution

Truffle based Broadband Bonding technology was used to connect the offices

Benefits

Solved reliability and up-time issues in a cost effective manner

VOIP, Cloud services and other mission critical applications gained fault-tolerance

Various ISP connections are orchestrated for best value, getting the best performance in a cost effective manner

Replaced expensive MPLS

Increases simultaneous VOIP call capacity by combining WANs

Increased corporate image towards clients and partners and helped increase productivity

Ascend Clinical was founded in 1984 with a focus on Kidney Dialysis patient population and have developed industry’s first end-to-end Internet native software package for clinics’ ordering and reporting and the solution remains the leading software for the renal community. With continued growth, Ascend Clinical has a workforce distributed in different offices and serves over 30,000 patients across the entire United States as well as Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.

Streamlining their WAN at their branch locations by gradually migrating away from MPLS

“We have various of our locations came up into our MPLS network over time with varying performance, SLAs and service contracts. When realized that we were not getting our expectations met by MPLS, we started looking for an alternative solution”, says Ken Peterlin, the IT Manager at Ascend Clinical, who was the business sponsor and the technical lead for the WAN upgrade project. “We were looking at a solution that can take advantage of cost effective bandwidth at our locations and add redundancy to our network. We wanted to take advantage of whatever cost effective bandwidth was available in our locations and that meant sometimes fiber, sometimes cable and sometimes copper. The beauty of Mushroom boxes is that, it can utilize whatever is available in that location”, says Peterlin, and adds, “With Mushroom Networks’ Truffle appliances, we were not only able to bring cost effective bandwidth and reliability to our offices, but also add another layer of security as the traffic is split into smaller pieces and travel through different paths, creating a setup where no single path has the complete data flow - that was certainly part of the appeal for us. We also moved away from the single point of failure of a traditional MPLS network”.

Ascend Clinical relies on various set of Internet applications including cloud servers, VOIP, SAN and many others. They have a small technical team and “simplification” is a key theme in all of their IT projects. “We avoid over engineering in all of our projects and as we replace and modernize our systems, Mushroom’s solution fit our theme perfectly”, said Peterlin.

Peterlin’s team replaced their MPLS network with the Software Defined WAN routers by Mushroom Networks that are capable of Broadband Bonding. Broadband Bonding, the technology that combines 2 or more broadband lines into a faster and more reliable Internet, enabled Ascend Clinical to replace expensive, single point of failure MPLS links with blended WAN connections that are composed of Fiber, Cable or copper based broadband, bonded via the Truffle Broadband Bonding appliances.

“One of the more non-measurable values that Mushroom Networks brings to the table is our team’s increased confidence in our network. We really haven’t calculated the exact dollar value of the increased up-time of our network, but given how many blood sample tests we run every single day coming from all over the nation, the value has been priceless. Earlier we were at the mercy of the MPLS provider, XO, Level3, Verizon, whichever was available in a given location, but now we don’t rely on any single carrier network and that is critical for our customer facing applications as well. We have more than 1,000 clinics and dialysis centers in the US relying on us and we simply can’t go down as a service”, added Peterlin.

Ascend Clinical also relied on site to site communication for various data base information being shared by applications. The reliability and performance of the office-to-office communication was another factor that let Ascend Clinical to the Mushroom Networks solution.

Ascend Clinical also has an in-house call center, where their VOIP traffic relies on the WAN lines orchestrated by the Truffle appliances. “Our call center is operating at all times and never can go down. In our industry, you need your communication to be solid at all times”, added Peterlin.

Using Truffle, the Software Defined WAN Orchestration devices capable of Broadband Bonding to aggregate 2 or more broadband lines provided Ascend Clinical with the following benefits:

Boost in WAN Performance:

Since Truffle appliances were used to bond 2 or more WAN lines for optimum performance, the overall WAN metrics improved both for mission critical applications as well as best effort traffic. As an example the VPN connecting a branch office to the HQ office now has the full bonded speed of the broadband lines, as opposed to an individual broadband line speed.

Boost in WAN Reliability:

Truffle provided self-healing WAN and dynamic fail-over capabilities for Ascend Clinical’s network. As an example an on-going Internet session is now shielded from any of the WAN outages, or WAN performance fluctuations, as long as one of the WAN connections is still up.

Reduced WAN Cost:

Compared to a single MPLS based WAN network, the cost savings achieved by Ascend Clinical was very significant, reaching up to 70% cost savings.

Reduced Emergency Calls & Related Cost:

Implementing Truffle significantly reduced any emergency calls for IT problem tickets as most WAN related outages and emergencies will be shielded from the users and therefore can now be addresses in scheduled maintenance windows.

Specialized SDN tunnels:

Truffle’s Software Defined WAN Orchestration meant specialized tunnels can be fitted to the specific application requirements. As an example VOIP Armor is a tunnel that optimized VOIP/SIP traffic in the network to shield the phone conversations against any network performance fluctuations and network outages.

Ascend Clinical with a focus on Kidney Dialysis patient population has developed industry’s first end-to-end Internet native software package for clinics’ ordering and reporting and the solution developed into the leading software for the renal community. With continued growth, Ascend Clinical has a workforce distributed in different offices and serves over 30,000 patients across the entire United States. Ascend Clinical searched for alternative solution to MPLS to get away the high cost and single point of failure that MPLS presented. After they installed Mushroom Networks’ Truffle appliances in their branches, the network performance and reliability got significantly increased providing the network up-time and performance needed to support their services and applications. All this was accomplished with up to 70% cost savings over legacy MPLS. Because of the high satisfaction from Mushroom Networks solutions, Peterlin’s team started to exploring the mobile 3G/4G/LTE Internet bonding appliances, Portabella by Mushroom Networks, for their mobile clinics, for telehealth applications.

One of the non-measurable values that Mushroom Networks brings to the table is our team’s confidence in our network.”,

Ken Peterlin, IT Manager, Ascend Clinical

“We really haven’t calculated the exact dollar value of the increased up-time of our network, but given how many blood sample tests we run every single day coming from all over the nation, the value has been priceless,”

Ken Peterlin, IT Manager, Ascend Clinical

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