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Private WANs For Better Performance

The explosion of transaction traffic, large files, mobile devices and rich media, coupled with carrier bandwidth throttling are filling up Internet WAN connections and contribute to WAN slowdowns. Companies have combated these problems by localizing large files at remote branches, and setting specific schedules for when these files can be transferred elsewhere and by setting quality of service prioritizing some traffic over others. Unfortunately, the continuing demand for high throughput transactions, and the evolution of large data and rich media files as mission critical data payloads, no longer make these strategies foolproof practice. Companies that require better performance for their businesses are rediscovering an age old solution: building their own private networks.

The Principal Financial Group, which has financial services offices nationwide and internationally, wants to appear as a local financial presence in every community it serves. To do this, the company identified four key network communications requirements: securing long-term connectivity between key metropolitan data centers, improving disaster recovery and failover for communications, establishing greater carrier and geographical network diversity, and creating buying leverage for voice, data and Internet services. The solution was a private network which The Principal negotiated with several different carriers.

"Essentially, we've leveled the playing field," said Keith Kratochvil, IS, Voice and Data Functional architect. "Because we own connectivity to Denver and Chicago, it's like The Principal is located in those cities from a telecommunications standpoint. The strategic advantages are significant. It puts us in a whole different position with carriers, both domestically and internationally."

Iowa Hospital Systems (IHS) needed a gigabit Ethernet network capable of point-to-point transport of medical files, x-rays, MRIs, etc., to 11 hospitals, 168 clinics and 63 different communities in Iowa, western Nebraska and eastern Illinois. The network had to provide sufficient bandwidth for large files, rich media and standard traffic on a 24/7 basis, along with fail over resilience so that peak performance could be maintained at all times. IHS was also looking ahead to new health care industry regulations, and the movement to an electronic medical record (EMR) which would put additional pressure on bandwidth and network throughput. Most importantly, the hospital system wanted a reliable health care information infrastructure that would ensure solid connectivity and upward scalability as electronic communication demands continued to grow--elements that raw, commercial Internet simply couldn't guarantee.

By making the private fiber optics/broadband investment, IHG experienced an almost immediate payback with an 8-10x growth of bandwidth availability that was attainable without further investment. It also attained control over its own communications infrastructure in order to meet highly demanding QoS, security, latency and redundancy requirements instead of putting that infrastructure in the hands of commercial carriers.

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