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The Hospital Network Navigator: Unlock Your Potential with SD-WAN Solutions

by Rajesh Haridas, 5 December 2023

 

Introduction

In the fast-paced realm of healthcare, where every second counts and data flows like the lifeblood of operations, having a sturdy, reliable, and efficient network infrastructure isn’t just a technical requirement—it’s a lifeline. 

The old-school network setups, with their rigid structures, are much like an aged stethoscope—functional, but not quite adept at catching the nuanced rhythms of modern healthcare operations. 

Enter the era of Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN), a technology akin to the modern digital stethoscope, capturing the pulse of data traffic with nuanced precision and agility.

Consltek, a harbinger of modern network solutions in the healthcare sector, offers two distinct flavors of SD-WAN to their healthcare clientele— Managed SD-WAN from Cato Networks and Networks & Connectivity Services from Extreme Networks. 

Picture these as two breeds of thoroughbreds, each with its unique stride and stamina, tailored for different terrains on the healthcare landscape. These are not just solutions; they're strategic allies, galloping alongside as you navigate the intricate trails of healthcare connectivity.

This guide is your companion on a journey through the SD-WAN terrain, exploring the vistas opened up by Cato Networks and Extreme Networks. As we saunter through, we’ll dive into how these offerings stand apart, yet complement the rhythm of healthcare operations. 

And while we are at it, we’ll also dance to the tune of traditional MPLS technology, exploring the duet it performs with SD-WAN in orchestrating the network symphony.

As we trot along, you’ll gather a basket of insights— understanding the essence of SD-WAN, evaluating the stride of Cato Networks against Extreme Networks, and decoding the rhythm of their co-existence with MPLS. 

Whether your healthcare setup is contemplating a network revamp, or you’re looking to fine-tune your existing SD-WAN ensemble, this guide holds the notes to tune your network operations to the harmonics of modern healthcare demands.

So, saddle up as we embark on this enlightening expedition across the SD-WAN landscape, exploring how to harness its potential to foster a network environment that’s not just robust and secure, but resonates with the evolving cadence of healthcare connectivity. 

Through the lens of Consltek’s offerings, we invite you to explore the SD-WAN frontier—a realm where network agility, security, and performance play the melody of modern healthcare operations.

 

Cato Networks: SD-WAN Benefits, Use Cases In Healthcare

In the ever-evolving landscape of healthcare, the need for technology that not only supports but enhances medical operations is paramount. 

Cato SASE Cloud steps into this crucial space with its innovative SD-WAN solutions, specifically tailored to meet the unique demands of the healthcare sector. 

From providing optimized network performance to ensuring robust and secure connectivity, Cato Networks is redefining how healthcare facilities approach their digital infrastructure. 

Don’t Renew Your SD-WAN Contract Before Watching This Video from Cato Networks

The table below outlines the benefits and practical use cases of Cato Networks' SD-WAN in the healthcare industry. It highlights how dynamic path selection, global backbone networks, and the SASE platform security contribute to more efficient, secure, and cost-effective healthcare delivery. 

Whether it's supporting telemedicine or ensuring seamless access to cloud applications, Cato Networks is at the forefront of facilitating enhanced patient care through advanced networking solutions.

Benefits to Healthcare From SD-WAN Implementation

Use Cases in Cato SASE Cloud In Healthcare

Optimized Network Performance: Dynamic Path Selection ensures efficient routing for applications, enhancing network reliability.

Secure and Reliable Connectivity: Uninterrupted access to patient data across multiple locations, crucial for healthcare continuity.

Robust Global Backbone: A network of PoPs ensures seamless connectivity for all healthcare facilities, urban or rural.

Telemedicine Support: High-quality connectivity for telehealth services, bridging distances in patient care.

Enhanced Data Security: Secure configurations protect patient data against cyber threats, maintaining privacy and compliance.

Cloud Application Efficiency: Optimized access to cloud services and SaaS, crucial for modern healthcare operations.

SASE Platform Security: Vigilant protection at the network's edge safeguards against cyber threats and ensures safe internet use.

Optimized SaaS Access: Seamless interaction with electronic health records and collaborative healthcare applications.

Cost-effective Networking: An affordable global backbone that maintains high network performance without excessive costs.

Remote Patient Care: Reliable audio and video connections enable remote diagnostics and consultations, expanding care reach.


 

 

Extreme Networks: Benefits, Use Cases In Healthcare

In the dynamic world of healthcare technology, Extreme Networks emerges as a key player with its SD-WAN solutions, offering a suite of benefits specifically designed for healthcare environments

We explore how Extreme Networks enhances healthcare IT with features like fabric integration for improved security and automation, simplified network operations, and guest Wi-Fi access. 

Take control with ExtremeCloud SD-WAN.

We highlight the importance of enhanced security measures, compliance with HIPAA standards, and efficient application performance management. The discussion also covers the robust IT infrastructure, unified network management, and the flexibility of multi-cloud connectivity and various connectivity options. 

Finally, we emphasize the scalability and performance enhancements enabled by cloud technology, illustrating Extreme Networks' role in advancing healthcare connectivity.

Benefits of Extreme Networks SD-WAN

Extreme’s SD-WAN Use Cases in Healthcare Settings

Fabric Integration: Unified networking services from data center to branch enhance security and automation.

Network Optimization: Intelligent routing ensures efficient data transfer for critical medical applications.

Simplified Network Operations: Automatic discovery and configuration streamline network management.

Guest Wi-Fi Access: Provides secure, reliable Wi-Fi for patients and staff, supporting digital engagement.

Enhanced Security: Hypersegmentation and stealth design reduce security risks.

Compliance and Security: Firewall capabilities and encryption help meet HIPAA requirements and protect data.

Application Performance Management: Automated discovery and performance control improve user experiences.

Robust IT Infrastructure: Real-time WAN link selection boosts network response for vital healthcare services.

Unified Management: Centralized control across all network aspects simplifies operations and accelerates repairs.

Multi-cloud Connectivity: Secure, high-performance access to cloud services simplifies IT infrastructure.

Flexible Connectivity: Utilizes broadband, cellular, and satellite options for cost-effective traffic routing.

Cloud Scalability and Performance: Leverages cloud benefits to reduce complexity and costs.

 

SD-WANs For Hospitals Compared: Cato Networks vs Extreme Networks

The table below compares Cato Networks and Extreme Networks SD-WAN offerings based on Gartner Peer Review Insights. 

Cato Networks scores higher overall with a 4.6-star rating from 96 reviews and an overall capability score of 4.7, compared to Extreme Networks' 4.3-star rating from 6 reviews and a capability score of 4.3. 

Both offer dynamic path selection and secure configuration, but Cato Networks also provides a SASE platform, which Extreme Networks lacks. In healthcare use cases, both ensure secure and reliable connectivity and access to cloud and SaaS applications. 

However, only Cato Networks supports telemedicine and remote patient care. Extreme Networks differentiates itself with fabric connectivity across various networks and cloud on-ramps to AWS and Azure.

Extreme Networks Fabric Connect, Explained
 

Features/Criteria

Cato Networks SD-WAN

Extreme Networks SD-WAN

Rating

4.6 stars (96 reviews)

4.3 stars (6 reviews)

Overall Capability Score

4.7

4.3

Evaluation & Contracting

4.6

4.4

Integration & Deployment

4.7

4.2

Service & Support

4.7

4.3


Key Features

Dynamic Path Selection

Yes

Yes (as part of Application Performance Management)

Global Network Backbone

Yes

Fabric connectivity across wired, wireless, and SD-WAN

Secure Configuration

Yes

Yes

SASE Platform

Yes

No


Use Case Scenarios in Healthcare

Secure and Reliable Connectivity

Yes

Yes

Telemedicine and Remote Patient Care

Yes

No

Cloud and SaaS Application Access

Yes

Yes (via cloud on-ramps to AWS and Azure)

 

How To Choose Between Extreme Networks and Cato Networks SD-WAN

Selecting the right SD-WAN solution is crucial for optimizing network performance and security in today's interconnected world.

This guide provides a detailed comparison between two leading providers: Cato Networks and Extreme Networks. Each offers unique features and capabilities, from handling complex network demands to ensuring robust security. 


Meet Extreme Switching

We'll explore various aspects such as network requirements, security capabilities, integration, ease of deployment, performance optimization, support services, and total cost of ownership. 

Whether you prioritize a global network backbone, advanced QoS capabilities, or comprehensive security with a SASE platform, this comparison will help you make an informed decision between Cato Networks SD-WAN and Extreme Networks SD-WAN for your specific needs.

Features/Criteria

Cato Networks SD-WAN

Extreme Networks SD-WAN

Network Requirements

Capable of handling complex network demands with a global backbone

Optimized for application performance and simplified operations

Security Capabilities

Comprehensive security with SASE platform

Built-in WAN security with advanced internet access security options

Integration and Interoperability

Unified management for simplified operations

Unified management across wired, wireless, SD-WAN, and IoT

Ease of Deployment and Management

Noted for ease of setup and management

Centralized management with intuitive user experiences

Performance Optimization

Advanced QoS capabilities for prioritizing real-time traffic

Enhanced performance control with real-time, automated application performance control

Support and SLAs

Managed by Consltek

Managed by Consltek

Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)

Inclusive subscription pricing

Controlled costs and purchase risks

 

How does SD-WAN play with MPLS In Hospitals: Coexist, or Replace?

SD-WAN (Software-Defined Wide Area Network) and MPLS (Multiprotocol Label Switching) serve as solutions to enhance network connectivity and performance, yet they operate on different principles and offer varying benefits. 

Can you fully replace MPLS with SD-WAN? Can they co-exist? Find out in this section.


 

Can SD-WAN replace MPLS? Watch the video to find the answers.

MPLS Replacement Scenarios At Hospitals

  • Cost, Flexibility, and Scalability: SD-WAN can replace MPLS in settings where cost savings, flexibility, and scalability are prioritized. SD-WAN's software-defined nature allows for more flexible management and scaling of network resources compared to the more rigid MPLS circuits.
  • Performance Optimization: SD-WAN technology optimizes traffic routing based on current network conditions, which can provide performance improvements over MPLS under certain circumstances.


MPLS Coexistence Scenarios At Medical Establishments

  • Hybrid Deployments: MPLS and SD-WAN can coexist in a hybrid network setup, where MPLS might be retained for critical, latency-sensitive traffic, while SD-WAN manages other types of traffic over alternative, often less expensive, connections like broadband internet.
  • Transitioning Phase: Organizations transitioning from traditional network architectures might maintain their MPLS connections while gradually integrating SD-WAN, allowing them to test and adjust to the new setup without a full-scale switch-over.
  • Enhanced Connectivity: SD-WAN can work in tandem with MPLS to offer improved connectivity, leveraging the reliable and predictable connectivity of MPLS while utilizing SD-WAN for better traffic management, and potentially lower-cost connectivity options.

What you need to consider

  • Cost: SD-WAN often presents a more cost-effective solution due to its ability to leverage cheaper internet connections, whereas MPLS can be costly due to its bandwidth costs.
  • Quality and Security: MPLS tends to offer higher quality and security with its dedicated circuits, which may be crucial for certain critical healthcare applications.
  • Networking Requirements: The specific networking requirements and existing infrastructure of a hospital or clinic may dictate whether a complete switch to SD-WAN, a hybrid deployment, or retaining MPLS is the most suitable choice.
  • Performance Requirements: The performance requirements of the healthcare applications in use, such as real-time data transmission needs for telemedicine, might influence the choice between SD-WAN, MPLS, or a hybrid setup.
  • Technical Expertise and Management: The level of technical expertise available and the preference for management simplicity may also play a role in deciding between or combining these technologies.

In sum, the decision to replace MPLS with SD-WAN, maintain MPLS, or deploy a hybrid solution hinges on a multitude of factors including cost, performance, security, technical expertise, and the specific networking demands of the healthcare environment.

The landscape of network connectivity within healthcare establishments is rapidly evolving, driven by the pressing need for robust, secure, and high-performing networks. 

As healthcare organizations grapple with the rising tide of data and the imperative to safeguard sensitive patient information, the role of network solutions like SD-WAN becomes pivotal. 

The journey through understanding SD-WAN, evaluating the offerings from Cato Networks and Extreme Networks, and exploring the juxtaposition of SD-WAN and MPLS technology, unveils a spectrum of considerations pivotal to making an informed networking decision.

Summary of Key Points

Understanding SD-WAN: SD-WAN stands out for its ability to optimize network performance, enhance security, and provide seamless cloud connectivity, aspects critical for modern healthcare setups.

Cato Networks vs Extreme Networks SD-WAN: Both offerings present unique advantages with Cato Networks leaning towards a global network backbone and comprehensive security through its SASE platform, while Extreme Networks boasts application performance management and flexible connectivity options.

SD-WAN and MPLS Technology: SD-WAN can either replace or coexist with MPLS depending on the organization’s needs. The co-deployment scenario, where MPLS handles critical traffic and SD-WAN manages other traffic types, might be a pragmatic approach for some healthcare organizations.

Criteria for Selection: The criteria spanning network requirements, security capabilities, integration, ease of deployment and management, performance optimization, support, and total cost of ownership are instrumental in guiding the choice between SD-WAN solutions.

 

SD-WAN Choice Recommendations for Hospitals & Clinics

So what should hospitals and clinics do when faced with SD-WAN choices and how should they go about the selection?

Well, here are the steps to a more informed decision.

  • Assess and Prioritize: Conduct a thorough assessment of your current network infrastructure, performance requirements, security needs, and budget constraints. Prioritize what matters most whether it's security, cost-efficiency, or performance optimization.
  • Explore Hybrid Solutions: If transitioning from MPLS, consider hybrid solutions that leverage both MPLS and SD-WAN to ensure a smooth transition and continual performance for critical applications.
  • Evaluate Vendors: When evaluating SD-WAN vendors like Cato Networks and Extreme Networks, delve into the user reviews, ratings, and the level of support and training provided. The experiences of other healthcare organizations can provide valuable insights.
  • Total Cost of Ownership (TCO): Look beyond the initial investment to understand the total cost of ownership including the costs of deployment, management, and any potential cost savings from optimized performance and reduced downtime.
  • Security Compliance: Ensure that the SD-WAN solution aligns with healthcare regulatory compliance requirements like HIPAA, and offers robust security features to safeguard patient data.
  • Engage with Experts: Engage with networking experts and consider seeking consultancy services to ensure that the chosen SD-WAN solution aligns well with your organizational needs and long-term networking goals.
  • Pilot Testing: Before a full-scale deployment, consider pilot testing the SD-WAN solution to evaluate its performance, ease of management, and the benefits it brings to your healthcare environment.

By meticulously navigating through these recommendations, healthcare organizations stand a better chance of selecting an SD-WAN solution that not only aligns with their specific requirements and budget constraints but also propels them towards enhanced network security, performance, and management efficiency.

 

Managed 360 Security Solutions For Hospitals By Consltek

From a 2016 fledgling venture to today's seasoned crew of 15+, Consltek's voyage has been steered by one star: revolutionising healthcare IT.

In the vast sea of healthcare IT challenges, our Managed 360 Security Solutions is the compass that ensures you never lose your way. Tailored to the unique waves of the healthcare sector, we ensure smooth sailing amidst IT tempests.

Our fleet is bolstered by giants: Cato Networks for SASE Cloud, Extreme Networks for seamless connectivity, and Allgress Inc for unwavering governance. Together, we navigate the intricate channels of your healthcare IT.

With threats lurking in the digital depths, our Managed 360 Security Solutions, powered by partners like Cato and Extreme Networks, stand as a bulwark, defending your patient data and ensuring compliance.

Chart a course towards unparalleled healthcare IT success. With Consltek's Managed 360 Security Solutions at the helm, your healthcare facility is destined for clear skies and calm seas. Let's set sail together.

Additional Reading

  1. Case Studies of Cato Networks in Healthcare
  2. Case Studies of Extreme Networks in Healthcare

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