1. The underlying cause of the collapse of the CareGroup system was a hidden problem with the network architecture that started with the merger in 1996. Over time individual smaller networks had been added by connecting them together with bridges and switches. Little did CareGroup’s IT department know, this flat configuration becomes problematic when there are more than seven connected segments. After seven connections of bridges or switches, communication between networks can drop causing components to have trouble distinguishing their role as a primary or backup. If two components take on the primary role, messages get relayed multiple times in endless loops and the overall network becomes overwhelmed. The CareGroup network had several occurrences where the number of segments was exceeded. The system eventually collapsed when a program was accidently left running and huge amounts of data monopolized the main switch. In addition to the out of spec architecture, these looping message problems were also caused by CareGroup employees. Without notifying anyone users would connect switches to each other when they ran out of ports. They also made network changes on their own which also compromised the flow of data. 2. Evaluation of Lessons Learned
#1. Bringing in experts. This is a vital lesson and I would add to bring the experts in early especially with merging networks. Having on-site engineers will help CareGroup tremendously. #2. Do not let any one individual be the sole point of failure. This is important in any organization. All IT employees should be cross trained and current on network maintenance. Also, all users should be given some basic knowledge about how IT works. #3. Keep your working knowledge current. This is one of the most important lessons in this case. CareGroup was not out-of-date with technology so they could not foresee what would happened. The IT department should set aside funds for trainings on the latest network technology. #4. Beware of...
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