The three and one-half day failure of CareGroup's core network on November 13 unveiled a number of process and design inadequacies. While reflecting on the network crash, John Halamka outlined 10 lessons the organization learned from the breakdown as well as several long and short term recommended improvements. In addition to expounding upon John's ideas, the purpose of this memo is to bring to light new perspectives regarding the improvement of CareGroup's core network.
John Halamka is an essential contributor to CareGroup's success. His leadership in transitioning the company to a medical ERP system has drawn worldwide attention. However, John's inexperience with designing and maintaining large network systems contributed to the problems of November 13. Principally, CareGroup's core network contained too many switches. Due to the merger of several hospitals, involving several stand-alone networks, this oversight is understandable. However, the overuse of switches at several principle junctures resulted in Spanning Tree Protocol loops. This defect was made apparent with the failure of CareGroup's central network switch.
In addition to an initial design consisting of a patchwork of too many switches, the company also failed to appropriately maintain the system. CareGroup's IT operating expenses and IT capital expenditures are significantly lower than other similar hospitals in the industry. While this has been a source of admiration at CareGroup, it also calls attention to the fact that the company has not given the proper attention to maintaining its network hardware. In a similar vein, CareGroup also relied on one person to maintain its network. Was this an effort to further reduce the IT budget or was it a simple organizational shortcoming?
The core network must be redesigned. John should play a significant role; however, Cisco should be utilized extensively to consult on the optimal design of the network...
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