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This year’s attendees voiced concerns about supply chains and network stability.
As we prepared for the 2022 Defense Health Information Technology Symposium (DHITS) in Orlando, CommScope’s Ruckus Networks team was also tracking down an order of specialized cables that was holding up a pair of government-priority work orders. A six-month delay was looking like a grim possibility, but thanks to the efforts of the Ruckus product and logistics teams, 3,000 cables arrived to fill these critical orders within the government’s required delivery dates.
“It worked out fine this time, but today’s supply chain challenges are, of course, constantly on our radar,” said Bill Mackiewicz, my colleague and enterprise account manager for Ruckus’ Defense Health, VA & Navy Programs.
Uncertainty around supply chains has dogged vendors worldwide since the onset of the COVID pandemic. Those concerns were aired at this year’s DHITS. We spoke to many members of the Defense Health Agency (DHA) ecosystem, including government and contracting partners, who commiserated over faltering supply chains that continue to hamper deliveries in many quarters.
“Customers are worried about supply chains because it affects everything that they do, particularly in an agency that has ongoing enterprise-level deployments throughout the world,” Mackiewicz said. “Supply chain was the number one topic of conversation at DHITS.”
The theme of this year’s event was “Transforming Military Healthcare Together.” Based on what we heard, the theme could have been “Hey, Where’s My Stuff?” Supply chain logistics and the security of those supply chains came across as the chief discussion point, but when it came to networks and connectivity, the conversation shifted to a focus on network availability.
High Availability Networks
CommScope’s Ruckus Networks serves more than 70% of the DHA’s medical facilities worldwide. Dependable technology is extremely important in this arena and for good reason. Defense health facilities and hospitals serve as the provider for our active and retired military, but also serve as the lone option for civilians in more rural parts of the country.
At a time when healthcare is leveraging the growing power of IT to expand into telemedicine, remote surgery, and data analytics, reliable networks are the backbone that make it all possible.
Health providers want stability, beginning with a network that does its job, day in and day out, with little or no downtime. There are growing requirements for high availability and nonstop functioning, and Ruckus Networks has put a lot of effort into delivering solutions to provide that capability across the defense health spectrum.
The Network Backbone
Ruckus Networks recently perfected Multi-Chassis Trunking (MCT), an innovation that combines multiple network switches that look and function as a single, logical device. The upshot is a more resilient network that’s ideal for the latency sensitive applications that are becoming more prevalent in healthcare.
MCT supports high availability networks that won’t crash if a single device fails. It’s gaining acceptance within DHA – they like what they’ve seen and are slowly rolling it out – and the emergence of MCT will allow CommScope’s stackable switches to replace expensive legacy chassis components. In addition, MCT will enable the DHA and other organizations to save on power and cooling. Ruckus’ contribution to DHA’s healthcare networks is fundamental to high performance/high availability networks.
“In the DHA facilities we support, we are the network backbone. Period,” Mackiewicz noted.
Innovative information technology is remaking the delivery of healthcare in exciting ways that will improve outcomes. To be trusted by healthcare’s providers and recipients, those innovations must be supported by stable, reliable, highly available networks.