I have just purchased Friendly Care Hospital, one of the biggest hospitals in DC. I have appropriately changed the name of the hospital to Kurt Crosbie Hospital. Kurt Crosbie Hospital is a 5-story building and houses many departments that span multiple floors. KCH (Kurt Crosbie Hospital), like many other hospitals, is in the midst of the struggle that has accompanied the technological revolution. KCH recently launched a new “Radiology Images” application that is now causing bottlenecks on its legacy designing and equipment. These images require heavy amounts of data to be shared across the KCH network, which are causing bottlenecks on the current serial connections. Not only must KCH develop a solution to relieve current network congestion, but they must also consider how quickly network demand is increasing and what those demands may be just years or decades from now. The company has also experienced a growth spurt which has brought along with it the need to develop a feasible, reliable, accessible, serviceable, secure and disaster-recoverable network that can support over 1,000 devices. Next, I will outline the foundations and fundamentals that will make this project a success.
Review of Literature:
The network routing protocol that EIGRP (Enhanced Interior Gateway Routing Protocol) provides will ensure that in the event that the route of a data transmission fails that the transmission will be handed to an alternate route and will be delivered successfully and timely. EIGRP takes advantage of redundant node layouts in order to create backup routes called successors. “A successor is a route selected as the primary route to use to reach a destination” (
The reliability of a network varies in respect to redundancy built into the network. If a network node fails and that failure prevents the transmission of data getting from point A to point B then that transmission is considered to be unreliable. The goal of a network administrator is to decrease the likeliness of a transmission failure. The amount of time a route stays non-functional and the percentage of failures for all transmission in the network work against the reliability factor of the network. For general business such as sales “severe consequences resulting from such IT breakdown, include loss of sales, reduction in productivity, damage to reputation or customer confidence, and penalty for failure to fulfill orders, among other effects” (JOURNAL ARTICLE 1 OPTIMAL REDUNDANCY ALLOCATION). Network reliability is especially critical in the scope of a hospital. For hospital patients that are being kept alive by machines that are receiving live patient data in order to operate, the reliability of the network correlates to the likeliness they may stay living. This is important for humanity and is also very important for the survival of the hospital as a business in terms of liability. The likeliness that a hospital will prevent the probability of death or malpractice by maintaining a reliable network affects the likeliness that a patient will choose one hospital over another. As our technological development capabilities improve with time, our ability to implement life-saving technology into hospital networks increases. This puts greater importance on the routing success rates provided by the network. New innovations such as WBAN (Wireless Body Area Network) “save lives by allowing early detection of abnormal situations through wearable and implanted monitoring devices” (JOURNAL ARTICLE 2 WIRELESS BODY AREA NETWORK). One key technique of building a reliable network is to use redundancy to provide alternate routers for data transmission. This includes adding routers or switches efficiently and effectively into the network in order to be taken advantage of by routing protocols that enable the use of alternate routes.
EIGRP (Enhanced Interior Gateway Routing Protocol) uses factors of delay, bandwidth and load in determining the optimal route for a data transmission (JOURNAL ARTICLE 3 ON THE INTERNET ROUTING PROTOCOL EIGRP) . With redundant routers or switches built into a network EIGRP is able to take advantage of the additional routing capabilities provided. The addition of redundant equipment may seem unattractive to a CFO, but the benefits of redundancy could ultimately mean the difference between a positive or negative financial future for the hospital. The inherent risk of a new technology such as a WBAN places heightened importance on the network budget of a company. The same new technologies that may save lives in the hospital may pose more liability for the responsible parties. Hospital networks should be constructed with reliability as the driving force behind component and configuration selection. Healthcare innovations such as wireless devices that report live patient biological data will continue to develop at an unknown rate. Although it may be difficult to prepare for what the future holds in terms of technology, it is best in my opinion to be over-prepared than under-prepared. “IoT systems built from “things” are increasing in diversity, scale, and number. But as they move from laboratory proofs of concept to fielded applications, new and unforeseen risks are likely to emerge. Possibly the most serious of these issues surrounds cyber-physical systems that control life-critical applications” (JOURNAL ARTICLE 4 ON THE IOT BLAME GAME). Dynamically adaptable routing protocols such as EIGRP contribute to the mitigation of such risk in the environment of sensitive, life-saving biological data transmission. If the EIGRP load balancing protocol “finds some routes with the same cost it will automatically start to distribute the traffic between them” (JOURNAL ARTICLE 5 EVALUATION OF POSSIBLE APPLICATIONS OF DYNAMIC ROUTING PROTOCOLS). Load balancing is a technique that enhances the ability of alternate data transmission routes to improve reliability without making physical alterations to the routing equipment. In an instance of network traffic using a pair of routes simultaneously in which one route fails the flow of data would continue smoothly while another route is being established. These precious few seconds could mean the difference between life and death. Load balancing offers the variance and multiplier commands which may both be used to adjust the data transmission load between a pair of chosen routes. As data flows throughout a typical hospital day progresses loads may change on various network routes. This necessitates the need for a routing protocol such as EIGRP that must maximize the load availability of a route with very high congestion along with a route with extremely low congestion in order to achieve the timely delivery of sensitive data.
EIGRP allows network traffic to find alternate routes in order for information to be delivered timely even when errors or failures occur. OSPF (Open Shortest Path First protocol) and RIP (Routing Information Protocol) also offer alternate routes. But “the EIGRP protocol has the greatest possibilities because load balancing can be run on various cost links” (JOURNAL ARTICLE 5). Since again, data transmission is extremely critical in the hospital environment, EIGRP will be the logical choice for such an institution. EIGRP will also improve Serviceability because it is scalable and “easier to configure and does not require as much planning as the OSPF” (JOURNAL ARTICLE 6). Although hardware homogeneity may be considered a negative attribute of a large-scale network, this will also prove to be an advantage in personnel cost, personal versatility, and expansion. EIGRP is “Cisco’s proprietary routing protocol” (JOURNAL ARTICLE 6). Only Cisco hardware may be used within the network. Using only Cisco hardware means that all network personnel will only be required to have training and knowledge for one brand of equipment. The obvious advantages of homogeneity in network knowledge and training means that any company-sponsored training will be at a reduction in cost compared to the training of employees or acquirement of employees with multiple hardware brand knowledge. Any network technician will be able to maintain or expand any part of the network in any location. Employees may be moved from one department to another or one continent to another in any case of emergency network maintenance that would normally require contracting an employee from an outside source. This proprietary knowledge of information will also contribute to network security since there will be less turnover and traffic in and out of the company. When technicians are temporarily contracted to maintenance company network equipment, they are possibly given proprietary knowledge about that company in order to perform the given task. Although non-compete forms may be required in the acquisition of temporary employment, it is up to the individual to abide by the agreement. Such an individual may choose the penalty that the breach of this agreement would cause in favor of the benefits in exploiting the company’s proprietary information.
Medical devices are now being used in hospitals to give live vital monitoring via sensor implants with real-time biological data presented to networks that inform other machines and people on what to do next as quickly as quickly as possible. These medical devices are part of a growing trend in the IoT (Internet of Things) which “describes several technologies and research disciplines that enable the Internet to reach out into the real world of physical objects” (JOURNAL ARTICLE 7 THE INTERNET OF THINGS). The growth is so rapid that it is logical to consider maximizing current technology as much as financially possible in order to avoid upgrading network equipment again in just a few years. “With 50 to 100 billion things expected to be connected to the Internet by 2020, we are now experiencing a paradigm shift in which everyday objects become interconnected and smart” (JOURNAL ARTICLE 7 THE INTERNET OF THINGS). Although LOADng-IoT (Lightweight On-demand Ad hoc Distance-vector Routing Protocol—Next Generation for Internet of Things) is beyond the scope of the Packet Tracer software being used for this research, being aware of these factors plays largely into the job of selecting network components. I have reviewed many solutions to address this factor of the KCH network along with other solutions required to build a reliable, accessible, serviceable, secure and recoverable network that fulfill the needs of more than one-thousand devices and are expandable far ahead into the future. I have covered the transitions required to move from a small business using 200-500 devices to a medium-sized business with the added strain of data-intensive applications such as radiology images. Using ethernet with even “low-end commodity hardware (e.g. 2.2-GHz Intel Xeon-based systems), these cards demonstrated performance of nearly 5Gb/s in a local-area network (LAN)” (JOURNAL ARTICLE 8 ANALYZING MPI PERFORMANCE). 5Gb/s is far more than enough to transfer radiology image files throughout the hospital network. This is a great improvement over the original serial connections between KCH routers. Considering radiology image sizes between a few megabytes and a few hundred megabytes in size, the data transfer rate capability of ethernet over serial connectivity is excessive yet future-proof. Using a protocol such as EIGRP (Enhanced Interior Gateway Routing Protocol) and DHCP, instead of static or default routing, will aid KCH in inevitable future expansions. “Dynamic host configuration protocol (DHCP) is one of the most used network protocols for host configuration that works in data link layer” (JOURNAL ARTICLE 9 A Secure DHCP Protocol to Mitigate LAN Attacks). Using both of these protocols has autonomized the labor that would have been involved in the addition of hundreds and possibly thousands of new devices to the network in the future. We looked into more advanced protocols that are beyond the scope of the Packet Tracer modeling software’s capabilities such as LOADng-IoT. This protocol takes advantage of the various devices that have been developed for use on the IoT. LOADng-IoT enables IoT devices to connect to IoT hubs instead of requiring separate Internet pathways. LOADng-IoT “is based on three improvements that will allow the nodes to find Internet-connected nodes autonomously and dynamically, decreasing the control message overhead required for the route construction, and reducing the loss of data messages directed to the Internet” (JOURNAL ARTICLE 10 LOADng-IoT: An Enhanced Routing Protocol). Although KCH is not expanding for such device use, LOADng-IoT will inevitably be a part of the KCH network as is the trend. “The possibilities that the Internet of Things developments offer feed previously unforeseen applications, thus making possible the design of new applications of ever-increasing complexity and utility” (JOURNAL ARTICLE 11 Integration of wearable devices).
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